News calls Solaris the early 1970s movie
recently remade and starring George Clooney "an obscure but treasured
Some on-line sci-fi science fiction fans are
optimistic about the new version (directed by Hollywood flavour of the
month Steven Soderbergh) that will be released in the States on 27
November. (Read the whole article here.)
I am unfortunately not one of them.
Remaking Solaris is something akin to heresy. Director
Steven Soderbergh who has done the new version have made some audience
pleasers that also got unprecedented critical acclaim such as Erin
Brokovich and Ocean's 11. But he is simply no Andrei
Tarkovsky (the Russian director of the original and movies such as The Sacrifice). It is a bit like comparing a truly great
composer like Beethoven to a writer of popular waltzes like Johann
Strauss. Or Andy Warhol to a true great such as Van Gogh. And so forth.
Soderbergh is mediocre at best and his movies have gotten the
critical acclaim they got not because he is so good, but because the
others are so bad. Tarkovsky could be counted with the greats of cinema
such as Bergman, Kurosawa, Welles, and so forth.
Basically it would be the difference between highbrow and middlebrow
(if we were lucky). This isn't the first time that a great European will
have been made into a bad Hollywood one (Wings of Desire into City of Angels anyone?) and it won't be the last.
be honest: science fiction as genre has undergone an incredible
dumbing down since Star Wars. The Golden Era of Sci-Fi wasn't
the 1950s, but the 1970s, an era in which actual issues ranging from
overpopulation (Soylent Green), environmental degradation
(Silent Running) to the influence of multinationals
(Rollerball) and even speculation about man's free will
(A Clockwork Orange).
Some of the above movies may not have been the greatest movies ever
made, but at least they were about something. In hindsight it would seem
that these movies even seem more relevant to our own era than the ones
made today! Looking back at the past decade or so one can count as best a
handful of movies that could be classified as true science fiction:
Gattaca, The Truman Show,
and perhaps Contact. That is not to say that other
"science fiction" movies made in this time have not been
enjoyable, of course they have been (some of them, at least). But at best
the rest are visceral action movies bereft of any real ideas.
Star Wars made more money from marketing tie-in's than it
did through actual ticket sales. This pointed depressingly to the future
in which movies were more intent on selling toys than making a movie.
Something like A Clockwork Orange would never been made today
because they wouldn't be able to market an Alex the Droog (being a young
man whose interests include "Beethoven, rape and ultraviolence")
action figure . . .