Making the Grades
Even for scientists equipped with the latest technology and tools, there are questions that beg to go unanswered. As one group of specialists circle the ocean-like world of Solaris on a research assignment, something goes terribly wrong and the explanation eludes them.
Following the last communication between the space station and Earth, two men arrive at the home of a seemingly tired and disengaged Dr. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney). They have a pre-recorded plea from the mission's commander. In it, Kelvin's friend, Gibarian (Ulrich Tukur) repeats vague details of the Prometheus crew's crisis and appeals to the doctor to help before the taped message suddenly stalls.
With the fate of the mission's members riding on his shoulders, Kelvin boards the spacecraft to find blood smeared in the passageways and two bodies bagged in a cold room. One of them is the corpse of Gibarian who committed suicide. The surviving researchers (Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies), plagued with insomnia, depression and paranoia, hesitate to describe what haunts them until the new arrival confronts the strange phenomenon himself. But with his discovery of the planet's unusual capabilities, Kelvin is given a chance to repair his painful past and suddenly is torn between logic and emotion.
Baring more than his soul in this romantic sci-fi, Clooney's exposed derriere sent Solaris director Steven Soderbergh scampering back to the appeal board after the film first received an R rating. Unfortunately the nude scenes along with one use of a sexual expletive, issues surrounding suicide and prescription drug abuse blemish an otherwise relatively mild list of content concerns for parents and older teens.
Wandering into realms of existentialism, the movie's creators spark a debate on the reality of a God and the possibility of an afterlife while letting their characters face internal fears and qualms. The sanitized sets and sterile environments further add to the sense of uncertainty. Although the storyline presents plenty of opportunities to launch family discussions, some viewers may leave feeling like a spent satellite caught in an ever-circling orbit, as the movie's dangling ending fails to make a strong concluding statement.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Solaris.
Solaris raises the idea of an afterlife. What is your family’s belief about life after death? Do you feel that individual choice makes a difference or as one character queried, are we merely puppets?
This movie explores the idea that people are often different than we imagine them to be. How do our perceptions of an individual color the way we react to him or her? How easy is it to change those opinions?