Andrei Tarkovsky Calls Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey a “Phony” Film “With Only Pretensions to Truth”

2001 stanley kubrick

Yes­ter­day we ran a list of 93 films beloved by Stan­ley Kubrick, which includes two by Andrei Tarkovsky: 1972’s Solaris and 1986’s The Sac­ri­fice. You expect one auteur to appre­ci­ate the work of anoth­er — “game rec­og­nize game,” to use the mod­ern par­lance — but the selec­tion of Solaris makes spe­cial sense. Just four years before it, Kubrick had, of course, made his own psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly and visu­al­ly-intense cin­e­mat­ic voy­age out from Earth into the great beyond, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The appre­ci­a­tion, alas, was­n’t mutu­al. “Tarkovsky sup­pos­ed­ly made Solaris in an attempt to one-up Kubrick after he had seen 2001 (which he referred to as cold and ster­ile),” writes Joshua War­ren at “Inter­est­ing­ly enough, Kubrick appar­ent­ly real­ly liked Solaris and I’m sure he found it amus­ing that it was mar­ket­ed as ‘the Russ­ian answer to 2001.’ ” Jonathan Crow recent­ly quot­ed Tarkovsky as say­ing: “2001: A Space Odyssey is pho­ny on many points, even for spe­cial­ists. For a true work of art, the fake must be elim­i­nat­ed.”

That pro­nounce­ment comes from a 1970, pre-Solaris inter­view with Tarkovsky by Naum Abramov. The Russ­ian auteur indicts what he sees as 2001’s lack of emo­tion­al truth due to its exces­sive tech­no­log­i­cal inven­tion, effec­tive­ly declar­ing that, in his own for­ay into the realm of sci­ence-fic­tion, “every­thing would be as it should. That means to cre­ate psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly, not an exot­ic but a real, every­day envi­ron­ment that would be con­veyed to the view­er through the per­cep­tion of the film’s char­ac­ters. That’s why a detailed ‘exam­i­na­tion’ of the tech­no­log­i­cal process­es of the future trans­forms the emo­tion­al foun­da­tion of a film, as a work of art, into a life­less schema with only pre­ten­sions to truth.”


Crit­ic Philip Lopate writes that “the media played up the cold-war angle of the Sovi­et director’s deter­mi­na­tion to make an ‘anti-2001,’ and cer­tain­ly Tarkovsky used more intense­ly indi­vid­ual char­ac­ters and a more pas­sion­ate human dra­ma at the cen­ter than Kubrick.” And the films do have sim­i­lar­i­ties, from their “leisure­ly, lan­guid” nar­ra­tives to their “widescreen mise-en-scène approach that draws on supe­ri­or art direc­tion” to their “air of mys­tery that invites count­less expla­na­tions.” But Lopate argues that the themes of Solaris resem­ble those of 2001 less than those of Hitch­cock­’s Ver­ti­go: “the inabil­i­ty of the male to pro­tect the female, the mul­ti­ple dis­guis­es or ‘res­ur­rec­tions’ of the loved one, the inevitabil­i­ty of repeat­ing past mis­takes.”

As a lover of both Kubrick and Tarkovsky’s work, I can hard­ly take sides. Maybe I just need to watch both 2001 and Solaris yet again, one after anoth­er, in order to bet­ter com­pare them. (Find Tarkovsky’s films free online here.) And maybe I need to throw Ver­ti­go into the evening as well. Now that’s what I call a triple fea­ture.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Solaris (1972), Andrei Tarkovsky’s Haunt­ing Vision of the Future

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris Shot by Shot: A 22-Minute Break­down of the Director’s Film­mak­ing

Tarkovsky Films Now Free Online

Watch Stalk­er, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mind-Bend­ing Mas­ter­piece Free Online

The Mas­ter­ful Polaroid Pic­tures Tak­en by Film­mak­er Andrei Tarkovsky

Tarkovsky’s Advice to Young Film­mak­ers: Sac­ri­fice Your­self for Cin­e­ma

A Poet in Cin­e­ma: Andrei Tarkovsky Reveals the Director’s Deep Thoughts on Film­mak­ing and Life

93 Films Beloved by Stan­ley Kubrick: From Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis (1927) to Ron Shelton’s White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Toli says:

    Of 2001, Kubrick said: “Those who “don’t believe their eyes” are inca­pable of appre­ci­at­ing this film.”

  • Brandon says:

    Tarkovsky is a genius, no doubt about it, but sad­ly, he couldn´t appre­ci­ate oth­er people´s work because he had this strict book of guide­lines to make art: his poet­ic, his­tor­i­cal and dra­mat­ic approach was the only thing in his world. He talked shit one way or anoth­er about almost every direc­tor he was exposed to. I just read his “appre­ci­a­tion” about Stan Brack­hage; he hat­ed him and was very rude to him in per­son. Mr. Andrei was clue­less about the things they didn´t taught him in sovi­et Rus­sia, and if he felt oth­er film­mak­er was get­ting ahead of him, he was fast to diss him as super­fi­cial, banal or emp­ty. Even genius­es can be rude cunts some­times and in Tarkovsky´s case, he was about feel­ing supe­ri­or all the time.

  • Richard Hartzell says:

    2001 and I go back a long way. I saw it in the the­ater when it was released ear­ly in 1968. I was 12 and riv­et­ed.

    At the time, there’s no ques­tion the spe­cial effects played a huge role in cap­ti­vat­ing me. (Aside: in the age of CGI, no one is capa­ble of appre­ci­at­ing ana­log effects and the sim­ple ques­tion — “How did they do that?” — they raise. Today, the answer is gener­ic: they did it with com­put­ers. In 1968, that answer sim­ply was­n’t avail­able.) And I was­n’t old enough to under­stand that Kubrick­’s ado­ra­tion of tech­nol­o­gy was tem­pered by his view that humankind would nec­es­sar­i­ly take these futur­is­tic inno­va­tions for grant­ed. Hence the moment on the rock­et bus, head­ed out to TMA‑1, when Dr. Floyd is shown the images of the “delib­er­ate­ly buried” alien mono­lith and shows only pro for­ma inter­est. His moment of stud­ied aston­ish­ment — he does noth­ing more than briefly shake his head, as if he were look­ing at an Indi­an arrow­head his daugh­ter had found in the back yard — is delib­er­ate­ly inter­rupt­ed by anoth­er crewmem­ber ask­ing the bland (and for Kubrick, I’m sure, iron­ic) ques­tion “Who wants cof­fee?”

    But I think it’s unfair to sug­gest that Kubrick­’s inter­est in show­ing gad­gets — say, voice print iden­ti­fi­ca­tion or the glo­ri­fied phone booth on the space sta­tion — trumped his inter­est in show­ing the resilience and deter­mi­na­tion of humans (or at least one human: Dave Bow­man) when con­front­ed with mor­tal obsta­cles in deep space. And Hal defined the AI conun­drum we still face today in a way that Rob­bie the Robot nev­er did for the gen­er­a­tion who watched MGM’s pre­vi­ous big-bud­get space opera, For­bid­den Plan­et.

    Indeed, I think Keir Dul­lea’s per­for­mance as Dave dur­ing Dav­e’s final con­ver­sa­tion with Hal is an epic in minia­ture — one I must have watched two dozen times and nev­er found tire­some. Dave is, after all, an astro­naut, mean­ing he’s like­ly received rig­or­ous mil­i­tary train­ing and been select­ed for his cool under pres­sure. So Dul­lea plays him as a patient non­cha­lant when he learns that Hal won’t open the pod bay doors. He’s a prob­lem-solver, so the first thing he wants to know is “What’s the prob­lem?” When Hal calls his bluff, explains he lis­tened in on Dav­e’s con­ver­sa­tion with Frank, knows they planned to dis­con­nect him, Dul­lea’s face offers a suc­ces­sion of care­ful­ly con­tained real­iza­tions — from anger to frus­tra­tion to pan­ic to resolve — as he grap­ples with how he can save him­self from Hal’s fright­en­ing psy­chot­ic out­break. It’s bravu­ra act­ing in a bravu­ra scene charged with near­ly unbear­able ten­sion, fear, bewil­der­ment, and sus­pense. Did Tarkovsky real­ly watch that scene and find it “a life­less schema with only pre­ten­sions to truth”?

    Some­how I doubt it.

  • AbsurdHero says:

    I love that pret­ty much the only per­son that can crit­i­cize Kubrick and have it be rel­e­vant is Tarkovsky. Even though he’s wrong.

  • Charles Dexter Ward says:

    2001 deliv­ers one hell of a pow­er­ful emo­tion­al moment–when HAL reveals to Dave that he’s fright­ened of death, and then los­es his mind, singing “Daisy.” It’s amaz­ing that Kubrick brings the audi­ence around to actu­al­ly sym­pa­thize for a sec­ond with the homi­ci­dal machine, a machine that has achieved a frag­ile human­i­ty.

  • Jacob Lageveen says:

    Prob­a­bly he did­nt under­stand the works of Kubrick then. This was one of his bet­ter movies.

  • Fred says:

    Kubricks 2001 was more about ideas than emo­tion. Prob­a­bly a lot to do with Clark’s writ­ing. Solaris seems to be a bit “soap opery” to me. Maybe Tarkovsky was a genius but I just nev­er thought that much about his films.

  • eric says:

    well, 2001 _is_ cold, ster­ile, and most­ly lack­ing in emo­tion­al truth. Once you get out of the moon’s orbital radius, the only char­ac­ter that’s real­ly alive is HAL. The astro­nauts are ciphers. the only emo­tion­al truth is that of a lost child (HAL) who only real­izes too late that he screwed up.

    That hav­ing been said, Tarkovsky’s basis for crit­i­cism is amaz­ing­ly blink­ered, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the sim­i­lar­i­ty in detail.

  • Terry says:

    Tarkovs­ki did not know what he was talk­ing about. All he’s movies were extreme­ly bor­ing and he was an over­rat­ed Russ­ian envi­ous per­son. More­over, he uses the word pre­ten­tious just like any wannabe review­er today who can’t stand works of art that don’t fol­low the beat­en path. If you want some­one whose name ends in “ski” and actu­al­ly made films that can be com­pared with Kubrick­’s mas­ter­pieces, than watch Polan­s­ki.

  • Magana says:

    Sounds like some­one is but­thurt, blind­ly biased, and unable to actu­al­ly under­stand a crit­i­cism and con­tex­tu­al­ize it.

  • bliz says:

    Magna, you do sound like that some­one.

  • Muris says:

    Its com­plete­ly nor­mal for the peo­ple to like much more 2001.… because that movie is EYE CANDY, and too much of the eye can­dy can make you sick and addict­ed to oth­er can­dies.

    On the oth­er hand, Tarkovsky Solaris is like green vegy that is good for you, taste strange, looks strange, but much health­i­er and nat­ur­al, but you dont like it so much, because of the f… can­dy.


  • Muris says:

    Oth­er mis­un­der­stand­ing is that S.O. 2001 is sci fi movie and Solaris is not.

  • Daniel C says:

    Oh dear god, this analy­sis of that scene is so well writ­ten Kubrick would be proud, there is few peo­ple who can appre­ci­ate Stan­ley’s atten­tion to detail and it makes me hap­py to find one of them here, sir you make this world a bet­ter place :)

  • Richard says:

    2001 is Sci Fi, Solaris is a reli­gious film. Armed with only a pre-enlight­en­ment epis­te­mol­o­gy Tarkovsky was inca­pable of under­stand­ing Sci Fi and instead dumb­ed down Lem’s book into a pre­ten­tious soap opera.

  • N Velope says:

    Wow, your ludi­crous buck­et-mouth, so out of place, is just a juve­nile dis­trac­tion from your point

  • Mike says:

    Tarkovsky is vast­ly over­rat­ed visu­al philosopher.Stanislaw lem’s SOLARIS is a bril­liant nov­el and it deserved a direc­tor that actu­aly undesr­stand the cen­tral premis of the novel.The new ver­sion direct­ed by Soder­bergh makes the same mistakes,but at least his movie isn’t nar­cisitic philo­soph­i­cal col­or­ing book.

  • D says:

    Solaris is ama­teur hour com­pared to 2001. 2001 is con­sid­ered one of the great­est films ever, a top 10 film of all time. Solaris is nowhere near that.

  • RusselF says:

    I have to agree with “D”. To appre­ci­ate Kubrick, one should also see “Dr. Strangelove…”, prob­a­bly the best film com­e­dy ever made. One has to go back to “Lysis­tra­ta”, by Aristo­phanese, appar­ent­ly writ­ten in 411 BC, to expe­ri­ence some­thing so crazy fun­ny sim­i­lar. (Is all *War* real­ly the result of the unhap­py, unused phal­lus? It can’t real­ly be that bad, can it? What “Strangelove” and “Lysis­tra­ta” tell us is: “Yes, prob­a­bly.”) Kubrick under­stood.

    The Kubrick “2001” film epic was bril­liant, up until the goofy star-child “float­ing-feo­tus” at the end. Real­ly, the whole thing rather lost trac­tion in the last few min­utes, but Kubrick real­ly was in unchart­ed land, so he had to fall back on that campy visu­al metaphor. I’ve nev­er seen the “Solaris” film, but I’ve read a bit about it. Tarkovsky annoys me as a “sovi­et” — it’s like being a nazi. One should not be proud of it. I quite like his­tor­i­cal and mod­ern Rus­sia, but the peri­od of Com­mu­nist rule made for an artis­tic waste­land, after about 1930. We stud­ied “Bat­tle­ship Potemkin” in our film class­es. I watched it and thought: “Yes, Sergei, we under­stand your rapid inter­cut­ting is clever and quick like a bun­ny. Now, could you please stop it? I’m get­ting tired…”, and so on. Roll anoth­er baby-bug­gy down those Odessa steps. To me it was all polit­i­cal wind. What I thought was genius was the direct & hon­est stuff, like Ver­tov’s “Man With a Movie Cam­era”. That was a bril­liant work, and it also used rapid cuts, but it had hon­esty. Dzi­ga Ver­tov’s work was bet­ter than 100 stu­pid prope­gan­da films. He was real­ly amaz­ing good, because, like Kubrick, he looked toward the future, and did not waste time on emo­tion­al manip­u­la­tion. We all intense­ly detest the fraud of “marx­ism”, but the future — a rad­i­cal, dif­fer­ent and pos­si­bly *bet­ter* future — is a real thing, and both Ver­tov (Kauf­man was his real name) and Kubrick were clever fil­mak­ers who could look for­ward with authen­tic cre­ative vision and give as a pic­ture of what might be. So many oth­er films are just polit­i­cal noise and emo­tion­al manip­u­la­tion.

    The Com­mu­nists were such arro­gant, igno­rant detestable boors that it is dif­fi­cult to take any­thing pro­duced dur­ing and after Stal­in very seri­ous­ly. It was all chest-thump­ing and bloat­ed polit­i­cal noise. If you tell me that Tarkovsky was an arro­gant blowhard, then that fits my own expe­ri­ence with “sovi­ets” quite accu­rate­ly, and I don’t think I would be able to even stom­ach his work.

    Which is sad, I sup­pose. Maybe “Solaris” is actu­al­ly a good film. But if it came from “sovi­et” Rus­sia, then it is not some­thing I am like­ly to see. Seen enough. Rus­sia get­ting rid of Com­mu­nism was like Amer­i­ca get­ting rid of Negro Slav­ery. You want to applaud them for hav­ing done it — but you still won­der qui­et­ly why it took them so long!

    The genius of the “2001” film, was per­haps linked to the same thread that made the “Star Trek” TV series pop­u­lar in the 1960’s — an out­ward-look­ing, explor­ers focus on the future. It was a time of real opti­mism, unlike today, where opti­mistic world-views are the domain of a few bil­lion­aires and not many oth­ers. But “2001” real­ly was a work of genius. It was a cre­ative jump quite far past the mun­dane and emo­tion­al­ly manip­u­la­tive dri­v­el that clut­ters up most cul­tur­al space. And yes, the rogue com­put­er “HAL” was clear­ly one of the most inter­est­ing char­ac­ters in the film. Are we there yet? Will we have HAL-type AI’s that feel sad when they are dis­abled? I doubt it. But the whole point of a cre­ative, clever film is to raise ques­tions in the minds of view­ers, and expand their sense of the lim­its of the pos­si­ble. And “2001 — A Space Odyssey” clear­ly did that, and did it *very* well.

    And Tarkovsky? Real­ly… How many peo­ple have even heard of this guy? If he dis­re­spects Kubrick­’s mas­ter­piece, then it is prob­a­bly just the jeal­ous­ly of some­one who is either ignored, or viewed by most as just sec­ond-tier & some­what mediocre.

  • Rob McGee says:

    To “Rus­selF” and “D” and “Ter­ry” and oth­er detrac­tors of _Solaris_: Thank you for the breath of fresh air and hon­esty — just a cou­ple days ago, I final­ly man­aged to watch _Solaris_ all the way through. (More than once before, I had tried and failed to sit through it.) Believe me when I say that I’m grate­ful to find some­one on the Inter­net who’s will­ing to admit that The Emper­or Has No Clothes and that Andrei Tarkovsky is high­ly over­rat­ed as a “genius film­mak­er.”

    Inci­den­tal­ly, in Russ­ian slang, the dis­parag­ing term _sovók_ can be used for some­one with the obnox­ious “Sovi­et men­tal­i­ty” that Rus­selF described very well. (As dis­tin­guished from a like­able, intel­li­gent, nor­mal per­son who just hap­pens to have been a cit­i­zen of the USSR.)

    I would sug­gest that if 1972’s _Solaris_ had been made in Eng­lish, with an Amer­i­can direc­tor and cast, BUT WITH THE SAME LOW-BUDGET PRODUCTION VALUES AND DEEPLY FLAWED SCRIPT as the Andrei Tarkovsky ver­sion, almost no one today would remem­ber the movie. Cer­tain­ly, no one would be heap­ing unde­served praise on it and mak­ing ridicu­lous com­par­isons with Kubrick.

    At best, it might have found an appre­cia­tive audi­ence on _Mystery Sci­ence The­ater 3000_, with the robots pok­ing fun at the $1.99 spe­cial effects, and the mas­sive holes and over­sights in the screen­play, and the scientists/engineers who talk like pompous cof­feeshop intel­lec­tu­als instead of talk­ing like scientists/engineers, and the “Rock­et Launch” but­ton that’s locat­ed about ten feet away from the rock­et itself, so that any char­ac­ter who press­es the “Launch” but­ton will be incin­er­at­ed by the rock­et’s exhaust blast (unless he very luck­i­ly finds an asbestos blan­ket lying around).

    But, thank­ful­ly for Tarkovsky’s rep­u­ta­tion, _Solaris_ was­n’t made in Amer­i­ca; it was made in the Sovi­et Union. And there’s nev­er been a short­age of Marx-addled intel­lec­tu­al frauds in the West who are embar­rassed to admit that, for the most part, Sovi­et-made films were as back­wards and crap­py as Sovi­et-made wrist­watch­es and Sovi­et-made auto­mo­biles. They real­ly, real­ly pre­fer to believe John Reed’s lie: “I’ve seen the future, and it works!”

    So they’re will­ing to pre­tend, for exam­ple, that the lack of daz­zling spe­cial effects in _Solaris_ was some sort of bril­liant and vision­ary ARTISTIC DECISION by Tarkovsky, rather than a reflec­tion of the down-to-earth fact that “Mos­film” stu­dios sim­ply could­n’t afford to do any­thing bet­ter. And let me empha­size: it’s not just that the visu­al effects and set-design of _Solaris_ are infe­ri­or to the then-ground­break­ing, Oscar-win­ning visu­als of _2001_ — they’re ALSO infe­ri­or to the orig­i­nal _Star Trek_ series with its made-for-TV bud­get! You’d almost have to go back to the 1930s _Flash Gordon_ seri­als to find spe­cial effects so utter­ly prim­i­tive that _Solaris_, by com­par­i­son, makes you want to watch the amaz­ing scene again and again, in slow-motion.

    (I’m not exag­ger­at­ing. One can eas­i­ly imag­ine Tarkovsky see­ing the “trans­porter” effect on _ST:TOS_, when Kirk says “Three to beam up, Scot­ty,” and think­ing to him­self, “Ёб твою мать, that was COOL AS F*CK! I sure wish I had the mon­ey to do fan­cy gim­micks like that…”)

    Of course, I’m entire­ly will­ing to ignore and for­give low-bud­get pro­duc­tion val­ues if the sto­ry itself is told by a com­pe­tent direc­tor. So here’s a chal­lenge for any­one who claims that _Solaris_ is some sort of mas­ter­piece: Give me a brief chrono­log­i­cal his­to­ry of the space sta­tion that’s orbit­ing around the plan­et Solaris, from the dis­cov­ery of the plan­et to the con­struc­tion of the space sta­tion to the time set­ting of the film, when the astro­naut Kris Kelvin is sent to inves­ti­gate the mys­te­ri­ous behav­iors of the crew on the space sta­tion.

  • Mason says:

    Tarkovsky’s com­ment:

    “That’s why a detailed ‘exam­i­na­tion’ of the tech­no­log­i­cal process­es of the future trans­forms the emo­tion­al foun­da­tion of a film, as a work of art, into a life­less schema with only pre­ten­sions to truth.”

    – seems to me to miss the point of the role of tech­nol­o­gy in 2001. 2001 does­n’t real­ly even have any human char­ac­ters — the only devel­oped char­ac­ter in the film is HAL; the humans are just place­hold­ers.

    The real main char­ac­ters of the film are Human­i­ty and Tech­nol­o­gy, and the film is about human­i­ty’s evo­lu­tion, includ­ing spir­i­tu­al evo­lu­tion, by means of tech­nol­o­gy — this is the point of the scene where the bone thrown in the air (the first tech­nol­o­gy, to which the ear­ly ape­man are guid­ed by the TMA) turns into a space­ship — the bone and the space­ship are the same thing: tech­nol­o­gy that is the vehi­cle of human “progress.” An emo­tion­al sto­ry about indi­vid­ual human char­ac­ters just isn’t what 2001 is about.

  • Ajre says:

    I think many peo­ple’s crit­i­cisms of the human char­ac­ters is a bit mis­placed. I feel that they are more “back­ground” than “place­hold­er”. We just aren’t giv­en insight into their lives or their thought process­es. As seen in the video calls with fam­i­ly, and HAL’s mem­o­ries from Urbana, the peo­ple do have emo­tion­al lives. It’s just not on dis­play for us the view­er. The focus is on the plot, the world of 2001, and the role of tech­nol­o­gy in that world. As point­ed out by oth­ers, Frank and Dave are spe­cial­ly trained indi­vid­u­als who have been con­di­tioned for mis­sions like the Jupiter mis­sion. They are log­i­cal, calm, and in con­trol.

  • AlexF says:

    Per­son­al­ly I would not com­pare 2001 and stalk­er … They have very lit­tle in com­mon except being set in space… Stalk­er is a genius film — but only if you were born in Rus­sia dur­ing the Sovi­et times — same as most Russ­ian lit­er­a­ture it does not trans­late well into eng­lish and the per­spec­tive of some­one born in the west will cast a very dif­fer­ent light on the film… Peo­ple who bash Solaris for spe­cial effects tru­ly miss the point of the movie — as effects have no rel­e­vance in the film … its sim­i­lar to the the the­ater’s stage — they are there just to give your imag­i­na­tion enough mate­r­i­al to under­stand the “set”. And yes who­ev­er said the Mos­film was not capa­ble of bet­ter effects was also cor­rect… On the oth­er hand Russ­ian same as Euro­pean (bet­ter films) do have bet­ter act­ing then let’s say an aver­age Amer­i­can film which i always thought was in large to com­pen­sate for small­er bud­gets and lack of effects.. At the same time most “polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed ” films of sovi­et era are tru­ly abysmal…

    Our per­son­al per­spec­tive plays enor­mous part in how we per­ceive and inter­pret any art — does not mat­ter if its lit­er­a­ture, film, sculp­ture, archi­tec­ture etc…

    For me Stalk­er is a film that I watched sev­er­al times and always enjoyed and found some­thing new in it… 2001 on the oth­er hand i forced myself to watch though only once… to me per­son­al­ly once you step past the out­dat­ed effects its flat and does not rep­re­sent Kubrick­’s genius.

  • Jon says:

    Clear­ly not you because your argu­ment is made from a posi­tion of mas­sive igno­rance if your look­ing to paint him as some shill for the sovi­et gov­ern­ment. In real­i­ty his films were mas­sive­ly out of line with com­mu­nist sym­pa­thy’s tend­ing towards very human and spir­i­tu­al sto­ries and he nev­er made any­thing that glo­ried the USSR. Indeed in real­is­tic he was in almost con­stant con­flict with the author­i­ties to the degree he left the USSR and made his last two films in west­ern Europe.

    I’d agree with the point made a few posts up that Tarkovsky had such an indi­vid­ual vision that I can def­i­nite­ly see him fail­ing to appre­ci­ate a lot of qual­i­ty cin­e­ma that matched up with it(although he loved many west­ern direc­tors such as Bergman).

    In terms of influ­ence 2001 was clear­ly a big tech­ni­cal leap for­ward but I would argue that actu­al­ly Solaris despite being less well known was more influ­en­tial. Kubrick­’s film focus­es on very exact mod­ernism of the kind that had been com­mon in sci fi since the 50’s. Tarkovsky on the oth­er hand I would argue invent­ed the idea of the “lived in future”. Just look at the shot of that cor­ri­dor in the arti­cle and I think you clear­ly see the influ­ence for films like Star­wars, Alien and any num­ber of oth­ers since.

  • Nick says:

    What absolute rub­bish. Tarkovsky admired and was good friends with many oth­er artists and direc­tors around the world.

  • Gareth says:

    Tarkovsky is sim­ply not qual­i­fied to crit­i­cise 2001 because he would have been inca­pable of under­stand­ing that in order to make a film, how­ev­er philo­soph­i­cal it might be, you have to engage audi­ences not alien­ate them. Some­one has to pay the bills.

    Unless the bills are being paid by the state in order to fur­ther a total­i­tar­i­an vision by pre­tend­ing — is this truth? — that Com­mu­nism made for more hon­est per­son­al rela­tion­ships. This the Com­mu­nism which sep­a­rat­ed chil­dren from their par­ents and turned them into inform­ers and made peo­ple scared to express their opin­ions open­ly for fear of being jailed or worse.

    Sor­ry Andrei, maybe you should have done a Sovi­et ver­sion of “Tri­umph of the Will” if you want­ed to get REALLY philo­soph­i­cal.

  • Tarkoisgod says:

    I laugh at all those imma­ture Kubrick fan­boys inca­pable of appre­ci­at­ing the genius of Tarkovsky.
    What are you think­ing peo­ple? Are you aware that S.Kubrick was­n’t even capa­ble of com­ing up with his own idea guys. 2001 is prob­a­bly his best movie, and it would­n’t exist if it was­n’t for Clarke who was behind all of the think­ing.
    It’s one of his few good ones, the oth­er I can think of is Strangelove, his oth­er films are either mediocre, for­get­table or incred­i­bly uneven (that’s the most com­mon case).

    Tarkovsky is for peo­ple who can think and feel, and that’s it. If you are a mil­lenial and/or your atten­tion span is that of a rab­bit, then you won’t be able teo see what the feel­ing and think­ing human being is sup­posed to see in Tarkovsky’s films.

    And please kids cease with the the religious/ philoso­pher bull­shit or the ‘Tarkovsky lived in Sovi­et Union, there­fore peo­ple who aren’t Rus­sians won’t be capa­ble of under­stand­ing his films. Biggest bull­shit ever! Not only I’m not Rus­sian/ex-sovi­et, but I’m also an athe­ist — and lo & behold, I’m per­fect­ly capa­ble to under­stand and appre­ci­ate almost all his movies (well Sac­ri­fice is a bit too much on the Godsy side for my earthy tastes).

    Also I laugh the thick per­son above who thinks an artist is sup­posed to pan­der to the tastes of the com­mon­ers.… Gareth my dear illit­er­ate friend, maybe you would be bet­ter of work­ing for Mac­Don­alds and wrap­ping up all that fat crap in papers with dol­lar signs instead of crit­i­ciz­ing a real artist, because the lat­ter is just beyond your capa­bil­i­ties it seems.

  • Daniel O'Neill says:

    Of course,Tarkovsky is right.Kubrick was ‚start­ing with this tilm,more inter­est­ed in :gadgetry,objects and technique,than in peo­ple and emotions.The main char­ac­ter in the film is a com­put­er for God’s sake!!!After this movie,Kubrick became more iso­lat­ed from real life,turning into a mar­tinet, pun­ish­ing his actors with shock­ing­ly exces­sive amount of takes,that usu­al­ly wrecked their performances.As a human­ist he became the being from Plu­to.

  • Tex Shelters says:

    One of the most over­rat­ed direc­tors of all time, with two of the worst “clas­sics” ever made (Solaris and Stalk­er) calls Kubrick­’s 2001 a pho­ny film. I guess it takes one to know one.

    ““every­thing would be as it should. That means to cre­ate psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly, not an exot­ic but a real, every­day envi­ron­ment that would be con­veyed to the view­er through the per­cep­tion of the film’s char­ac­ters. That’s why a detailed ‘exam­i­na­tion’ of the tech­no­log­i­cal process­es of the future trans­forms the emo­tion­al foun­da­tion of a film, as a work of art, into a life­less schema with only pre­ten­sions to truth.””

    Uh, Mr. Tarkovsky, it’s called “film” not “fic­tion writ­ing” and the art in film is exact­ly what you decried Kubrick for. And 2001 isn’t even my favorite film, not even close. And Solaris is even slow­er and less com­pre­hen­si­ble that 2001. Is a 5 snoozy.

  • Arne Nilsson says:

    Stalk­er is pre­ten­tious so is 2001, I like oth­er films.
    Arne Nils­son, Borås Swe­den

  • George says:

    Except you’re entire­ly wrong and you’re spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion. Solaris did release in 1972, 4 years after 2001’s release. How­ev­er Solaris fin­ished pro­duc­tion in 1966, the film was ready and fin­ished in 1966, 2 years before 2001 was released. But due to Solaris being made under the sovi­et regime it had been cen­sored mul­ti­ple times and had been pushed back until it final­ly released in 1972. 2001 had no influ­ence on Solaris, if you say or think oth­er­wise you’re wrong.

  • Arthur says:

    Well, I nev­er thought of Tarkovsky as a “film­mak­er”. He cer­tain­ly under­stood cin­e­ma, and was a very seri­ous film the­o­rist. But when he actu­al­ly made films, I thought his art was clos­er to poet­ry than to cin­e­ma.
    Kubrick was, on the oth­er hand, a bril­liant film­mak­er. His films are often accused of being “cold”, but they are absolute­ly not emo­tion­less, as he uses his tech­nique to con­vey emo­tion rather than Tarkovsky’s poet­ic approach. His cam­er­a­work and use of mise-en-scene is yet mag­nif­i­cent; but Tarkovsky’s cam­era was a tad sim­pler (which isn’t bad, but it lacked the effect that Kubrick’s tech­nique had).
    There isn’t enough time to go into details, but I think 2001 is a mas­ter­piece and Solaris is a very bad film.

  • Papadopoulos says:

    Tl;dr: 2001 good solaris bad

  • Nirvana says:

    The amount of Kubrick fan­boys (and some Tarkovs­ki lovers too) here is some­thing i expect­ed. Just because they watched his films they think their IQ is high now. First of all: if u are gonna say Tarkovs­ki is over­rat­ed so is Kubrick. Sec­ond: they both had dif­fer­ent views, while i find Kubricks films vul­gar and pre­ten­tious, with the mediocre nihilism touch, i also find Tarkovskis unec­es­sary longer, pre­ten­tious and some­times booor­ing (the sac­ri­fice, guess he real­ly only did that film for his son and fuck every­thing else). But they both touch dif­fer­ent top­ics and they are both genius­es in what they did: Kubrick loved nihilism, Tarkovs­ki loved spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, Kubrick did­nt like “human Will and emo­tion” n 2001 cause he was more con­cerned w aliens, their mono­liths and tech­nol­o­gy, which isnt a bad thing tho. But that future isnt nec­es­sar­i­ly true, as many of his fan­boys wish it could be. 2001 isnt about “Human Emo­tion” but “Evoution”, which is a good and not com­mon top­ic (save­for plan­et of the apes) but per­son­al­ly both Kubrick and Clarke missed some­thing impor­tant while being more con­cerned ask­ing Sagan about how an actu­al alien would look like: the part of Human­i­ty that make us dif­fer­ent than a rock or ani­mal behav­iour, what makes peo­ple build space sta­tions and makes them inves­ti­gate and search­ing mys­te­ri­ous mono­liths. Grant­ed, and again,2001 isnt (much) about Emotion(thats for u Hal), so in Tarkovskis view(who appre­ci­at­ed human emo­tion, its all over his films) obvi­ous­ly he would say some­thing “bad” about it. But again, he missed the point, as 2001 is indeed eye­can­dy and some view of a future, with SO many ppl back n those days who watched the movie being high as fuck and enjoy­ing the Jupiter seg­ment. It isnt the “Mas­ter­piece” because what do we learn from it? That we were giv­en knowl­edge from aliens since the dawn? That we instead of under­stand a new con­fused “life­form” (HAL) must kill it? (Ok it makes sense and its Genius cause it depicts nat­ur­al selec­tion and humans do like to exter­mi­nate but it’s just one side of the coin), that the Jupiter sec­tion is “oh man u don’t need to be high”? Or that we are in aliens hands no mat­ter what (white­room) and that they can turn us in Starchilds? Don’t get me wrong, i fuck­ing love 2001, i own the orig­i­nal sto­ry and the books and researched it, but it’s often mis­un­der­stood and ppl don’t real­ly know why its amaz­ing in its own. And about Tarkovs­ki: he was more into “what is beyond us” but not in the sense of “oth­er worlds”. He did good films when they had some basis to work with (solaris and road­side pic­nic (stalk­er) books) the oth­ers were about “per­son­al stuff” (Mir­ror about his moth­er, the sac­ri­fice ded­i­cat­ed to his son, nos­tal­gia about miss­ing Rus­sia) so thats why many find him pre­ten­tious, pour­ing per­son­al details and roman­tiz­ing them just.. don’t feel that good per­son­al­ly, and those poem bits (his father wrote those btw) are unbear­able. But then again it is what artists use to do. And he did­nt real­ly was a fil­mak­er, films were only a medi­um a can­vas for “his form of art” i know it’s dif­fi­cult to under­stand. Mir­ror is amaz­ing on its own, so Solaris and Stalk­er. His films deal­with “emo­tion” but it isnt about scream­ing or yelling or much action, he built emo­tions slow­ly by layers,almost sub­tle. Id like to say his were more close to “Mas­ter­piece” if it wer­ent for his (not sub­tle) insis­tence on show­ing per­son­al details(himself) to Russia/the World. But in his terms his movies work, and so, in Kubricks terms his films also work. And theirs are both Art­pieces wheter they both liked the idea or not. Per­son­al­ly i have oth­er direc­tors who were bet­ter but thats me cause… Art comes in many forms and we are not chained to one path.

  • wow says:

    damn!! that was deep.

  • Pete Polyakov says:

    In the real­i­ty Tarkovsky said that for some rea­son, the direc­tors in sci-fi films force the view­er to focus on the details of the mate­r­i­al struc­ture of the future. Some­times they call their films “vision­ary” which and it’s non­sense.
    He said that Space Odyssey seems unnat­ur­al because of “dry” atmos­phere, like in a muse­um with demon­stra­tion of the tech­ni­cal achieve­ments. But who is inter­est­ed in a work where tech­ni­cal achieve­ments are at the cen­ter of the artist’s atten­tion? After all, art can­not exist out­side of a human being, out­side of his moral prob­lems.

    I’m agree in that sense.
    Tarkovsky’s films are psy­cho­log­i­cal, Kubrick­’s more psy­che­del­ic.

  • Ivan Bjørn says:

    Art is not about com­par­ing or com­pe­ti­tion. As soon as we become able to over­come this con­cep­tu­al non­sense, only then we can tru­ly appre­ci­ate an artist’s work and maybe under­stand it in right way. Art is sub­jec­tive. An attempt to present your inner self to audi­ence. Observ­ing the Kubrick­’s and Tarkovsky’s work through the same prism is very wrong since they don’t share the same back­ground in any pos­si­ble way. I love them both and I’ll nev­er under­stand crit­ics or audi­ence try­ing to deval­u­ate their impor­tance with “who is bet­ter” clap­traps. There’s no com­pe­ti­tion hence there’s no win­ner. Its real­ly not about that.

  • Scott Umsteadt says:

    I’ll prob­a­bly get in trou­ble with oth­er film­mak­ers for this, but yeah, I can see that. I have a “mixed feel­ings” rela­tion­ship with the film. On one hand it’s beau­ti­ful­ly shot and the spe­cial effects…WOW!
    On the oth­er hand, it’s a bit bor­ing and cold. I guess Kubrick was try­ing to make so bold state­ment but that state­ment gets lost in the trans­la­tion.

    The sto­ry itself is very inter­est­ing and could have been a real­ly excit­ing film. I feel that Kubrick could have had his cake and ate it too. He could have made a seri­ous thought pro­vok­ing film that was also excit­ing and enter­tain­ing. Sad­ly he did­n’t. It comes off more of a cos­mic acid trip than a thought pro­vok­ing Sci-Fi film.

    I’ll put it like this: I enjoyed the film much more AFTER I read the nov­el. And one should­n’t have to do that in order to enjoy a film.

  • Abdullrahman Al-Hosni says:

    First: What is all this crap out there?
    Let’s be clear from the start, who does­n’t like Kubrick or Tarkovsky, has bad taste in cin­e­ma.
    I don’t under­stand why all the child­ish bick­er­ing, the emp­ty com­par­isons, the fun­ny thing that Kubrick loves Solaris and Tarkovsky; Here fools argue like chil­dren about which of them is bet­ter, but what is known and obvi­ous is that they are on the same lev­el, and that they are among the great­est artists of all time.
    But the fun­ni­est thing is that Tarkovsky, in (his con­struc­tive crit­i­cism), prais­es Kubrick and calls him a (spe­cial­ist). I am almost cer­tain that every­one in this arti­cle only read the title, because he is igno­rant and does not under­stand any­thing. Tarkovsky presents his most log­i­cal point of view, prais­es Kubrick, and fools quar­rel here.
    The oth­er thing, Tarkovsky works in the state sys­tem like he’s a spy, haha­ha­ha­ha are you kid­ding; It’s a bad joke. Tarkovsky pre­sent­ed dozens of sce­nar­ios and a sys­tem that sup­press­es them. We were deprived of many of the mas­ter­pieces that he would have pre­sent­ed. Tarkovsky left Rus­sia at the end of his life to achieve his ambi­tions. When you say that Tarkovsky works for a regime, here I under­stand that some­one behind his appa­ra­tus is laugh­ing at you, and the fun­ny thing is that there are two Sovi­ets here call­ing Tarkovsky arro­gant, and he was basi­cal­ly an oppo­nent of the Sovi­et regime. Do not speak while you are igno­rant. (I doubt there are any Sovi­et here)
    The oth­er thing is Tarkovsky was work­ing on his mas­ter­piece, Solaris, from 1968.
    Anoth­er fun­ny thing, they say Tarkovsky did not appre­ci­ate any artist, the fun­ny thing is that Tarkovsky made a whole movie; In it he talks about great artists, includ­ing direc­tors such as Robert Bres­son and Fed­eri­co Felli­ni.
    And here in the arti­cle Kubrick prais­es in the mid­dle of his crit­i­cism.
    The sad thing is that Tarkovsky’s fans said bad things about Kubrick, which proves that both sides are poor in cin­e­mat­ic flair.
    If you like Kubrick and you don’t like Tarkovsky, then your taste is bad, if you like Tarkovsky and you don’t like Kubrick, your taste is turd, wish they were here; They will say the same thing.

  • Abdullrahman Al-Hosni says:

    There is anoth­er mat­ter. Every fea­ture film made by Tarkovsky is a mas­ter­piece in all respects, and who­ev­er sees oth­er­wise is clum­sy.
    Kubrick also made 10 mas­ter­pieces, com­plete in all respects, 2001: A Space Odyssey was not a mas­ter­piece and was flawed by exces­sive cin­e­mat­ic effects, which was Tarkovsky’s prob­lem with the film, and also Kubrick­’s first two films were infe­ri­or.

  • Abdullrahman Al-Hosni says:

    But the real thing, which I must address to the author of the arti­cle, is that you are the cause of all this non­sense, yes we know that Tarkovsky crit­i­cized Kubrick, but why do you say that he did not appre­ci­ate him, that it is just a rude man­ner; To cre­ate a lie, the fun­ny thing is that in the arti­cle you quote Tarkovsky call­ing Kubrick a spe­cial­ist.
    I think this in lan­guages ​​is called esti­ma­tion.🙂

  • JGSimcoe says:

    “Give me a brief chrono­log­i­cal his­to­ry of the space sta­tion that’s orbit­ing around the plan­et Solaris, from the dis­cov­ery of the plan­et to the con­struc­tion of the space sta­tion to the time set­ting of the film”

    Pre­sum­ably the film has to be set at least a few hun­dred years in the future, right? They’re at a tech­no­log­i­cal point where it is eco­nom­i­cal to send a sin­gle per­son on an inter­stel­lar jour­ney. And the Solaris space sta­tion is heav­i­ly implied to be at least sev­er­al decades old.

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