‘Solaris’ gets R rating; appeal vowed

Times Staff Writer

Director Steven Soderbergh vowed Monday to appeal a restrictive R rating the Motion Picture Assn. of America has assigned to his outer-space romantic drama, “Solaris,” for “some sexuality/nudity.” Two scenes depict actor George Clooney’s naked backside.

“We all agreed that we are not going to cut the film,” Soderbergh said, referring to executives at 20th Century Fox, which plans to open the movie Nov. 27.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Nov. 9, 2002 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday November 09, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 8 inches; 315 words Type of Material: Correction
“Solaris” rating -- A story in Tuesday’s Calendar about the rating given to “Solaris” said an R rating prohibits viewers younger than 18 unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. In fact, the rating means “Restricted: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.”

“We’ve seen scenes like this on network television,” Soderbergh noted by phone from New Orleans, where he is mixing the film’s soundtrack. “Believe me, there is nothing here that is worse than what has been on ‘NYPD Blue’ ” on ABC.


The Oscar-winning director of “Traffic” said the scenes in question are not really sexual. In one, Clooney and co-star Natascha McElhone, who plays Clooney’s wife, are shown slow-dancing in an extremely darkened room, “shot from 70 feet away."In another shot, he said, they are in bed on their stomachs, talking. " “Again, it’s night and very dark.”

The director said he plans to meet with the MPAA appeals board at the end of next week to contest the R, which prohibits admission of anyone younger than 18 who isn’t accompanied by a parent or adult.

MPAA spokesman Richard Taylor said the ratings are determined by a panel consisting largely of parents. The appeals board consists of between 14 and 18 members from various studios. A two-thirds vote is required to overturn the rating.

Soderbergh said the rating illustrates an “ongoing issue” with the Directors Guild of America: Some R-rated films like “Almost Famous” and “Billy Elliott” lean more to the softer PG-13 rating than R-rated films like “Fight Club” or “Total Recall.”

In “Solaris,” Soderbergh said, Clooney is investigating unusual phenomena on a space station. “As the story progresses, he is visited by what appears to be his dead ex-wife,” the director said. “It’s a love story.”