Natalya Bondarchuk is amazing. By the time the film ended, I was in love with her character.
Tarkovsky is as slow paced as his reputation. In no small part, this is because he doesn't tell a story particularly well. He seems to intentionally leave holes in the narrative and occasionally, he'll explain it later. If I understood Russian, I'm sure I'd have picked up on it, but when I watched the film the first time through, I didn't understand who Kris Kelvin's father was -- the dialogue never indicated it. And then the long, almost hypnotic shots of water.
And yet, the Criterion Collection has found a way to make the movie even slower: include two film professors reading a written bit of commentary.
I hear Tarkovsky didn't like 2001, yet I have to conclude that in a lot of ways, he succeeded in making space seem the same way as 2001. Supposedly he objected to how sterile everything was in Kubrick's opus which is why he went to such great pains to make as many of his sets as messy as possible.
In spite of being a love story, there's very little in the way of eroticism. The main characters kiss (to my recollection) a total of three times over the course of the film. The most erotic scene of the film is a rather disturbing tableau of someone drinking liquid oxygen, dying, and spontaneously resuscitating.
Danny Boyle mentioned in his commentary of Sunshine that there always has to be a certain aloofness in order to make space feel right. The lack of emotion between the two characters serves to underscore that. It's almost as though we perceive space as sufficiently dangerous that we can't believe that anyone would be comfortable enough in space to emote anything beyond mere survival.
I wonder if that's something that will ever change in the future.
In other news, I found one of the world's great ironies -- and it seems like everyone else is so paralyzed by political correctness that they don't see it. Modern feminism has brought us the Slutwalk -- a march in which women are encouraged to wear as little as possible and write messages for whichever feminist cause takes their fancy that day on their skin.
(Apparently, it's because a police officer in Toronto suggested that if you don't want to get raped, then you shouldn't dress like a "slut". This was interpreted with some validity as an authority blaming the victim of the crime, rather than the criminal who committed the crime.)
The fact that no one else seems to think that's hilarious worries me.
I'm also a little surprised that no one's made a real attempt to telecast the whole thing (a la Joe Francis) with all the fallout that occurs ("Hey! Stop taking pictures! Wait -- what do you mean that you can take pictures of us in public without our consent?! My parents might see this!").
Still -- I remain optimistic that mankind may yet evolve to that point!