This evening we watched Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 Solaris, based on Stanislaw Lem’s 1961 sci fi novel of the same name. Inevitably, it concentrates more on the hallucinations and the emotional crises of the scientists (particularly the investigator, Kris Kelvin) who are its main protagonists than the almost philosophical reflections that the novelist could engage in. But it remains true to Lem’s brilliant central thesis, which is the inability of human intelligence to even comprehend, let alone communicate with, a different, extra-terrestrial form of intelligence. In their struggle to provoke some sort of reponse, the scientists resort to the characteristically human response of controlled violence and this, in turn, provokes a response that is at one and the same time beyond their comprehension and beyond their control. In the film version, Tarkovsky cleverly weaves Kelvin’s guilt about the father he leaves behind into the ending. There is resolution but, exploiting the ambiguity of reality, Tarkovsky leaves us to understand that the resolution is Solaris’s and not man’s.