Sent to evaluate the mental state of three cosmonauts at a Russian space station orbiting the mysterious ocean-planet Solaris, psychologist Kris Kelvin (Banionis) learns upon arriving that lead scientist Dr. Gibrarius (Sos Sarkisyan) is dead, apparently a suicide. As he puzzles over the psychic torments afflicting the remaining two men, who are behaving oddly, Kelvin is visited by the flesh-and-blood apparition of his dead wife, Hari (Bondarchuk).
A cerebral, eerily gorgeous elaboration of Stanislaw Lem's ruminative sci-fi novel, Tarkovsky's atmospheric "Solaris" is the furthest thing imaginable from outer-space action flicks like "Aliens"; it's much closer in spirit to Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey". As always, Tarkovsky carefully modulates the action to a hypnotic crawl, creating an effect that is both sublime and chilling, especially once the "Guests" — the materialization of repressed memories — begin to arrive. Exploring the nature of love and memory, past trauma and the enigma of consciousness, "Solaris" is a breathtaking film with a powerful undercurrent of spiritual longing. (Not to be confused with the Steven Soderbergh/ George Clooney re-make).