Tarkovsky, Bach and God in Tarkovsky’s Solaris

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569), The Hunters in the Snow, 1565, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna

I first heard Bach’s choral prelude Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (“I call to thee, Lord Jesus Christ”) in Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972). It seems to me one of the most beautiful compositions, and Tarkovsky’s scene, in which the piece harmonizes with the camera as it plays over Brueghel’s Hunters in the Snow (1565), one of the most solemnly lovely in cinema.

The camera scrutinizes Brueghel’s painting, at first coldly (as Kris must see it), and then with a certain wistful sorrow, as if in recognition of our hopeless estrangement from the natural life of the old village. The mournful precision of Bach’s piece underscores that there is only the sadness of our estrangement and longing. Kris stirs with new humility and humanity, and he and Hari begin to float, ostensibly in a state of zero gravitation, but actually in a state of grace.

In a 1986 interview, Laurence Cossé asked Tarkovsky whether he considered his films “acts of love towards the Creator.” Tarkovsky responded ”I would like to think so. I’m working on it, in any case. The ideal for me would be to make this constant gift, this gift that Bach alone, truly, was able to offer God.”


Excerpts from Solaris, with the Bach theme:

The complete levitation scene from Solaris. You will be asked to watch this on Youtube, for copyright reasons.

Horowitz’s transcendentally lovely interpretation:

Become a PatronHelp support our family-friendly mission

Recent Comments

Scroll to Top

Sharing a Post

Why do my friends need to SignIn to read the post I shared?

Actually, this is a voting security feature. During public voting, only club members can read posts submitted for that contest. Since anyone reading the story is able to vote (click the Like button), we reserve these capabilities to members who SignIn. Before we implemented this security feature, people were voting multiple times and making the public voting process unfair and out of balance. To fix this, our staff finally decided to allow only members who SignIn to read the stories. Membership is free and easy, and ensures our club is safe, secure, and family-friendly!