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How tragic Russians gave American cinema its joy

By Mark Cousins   January 2003

It’s not every day that a big Hollywood star and one of its hottest directors remake a Soviet metaphysical masterpiece of the 1970s. Solaris, starring George Clooney, directed by Stephen Soderbergh and adapted from Andrei Tarkovsky’s film of the same name, has opened in the US to neither highbrow nor lowbrow acclaim. The film’s final reel in particular has been the subject of much head scratching, as it’s sort of a happy ending but sort of not.

Solaris will no doubt be equally scrutinised when it opens here in January, but the ambiguity of its ending raises broader questions. The…

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