[I have had two comments from friends. Tom Barron saw some version in 1973 as a student at CalArts thus proving that whatever I saw in 1976 was certainly not the premiere in Los Angeles, or maybe they just claimed it was as a way of selling tickets.
[Josh Pines of Technicolor tells me that Solaris in the 3.5 hour version is a masterpiece of the cinematic form and that I do not know what I am talking about. Well, he may be right. Or it may be that the difference between 3.5 and 8 hours is the difference between heaven and hell. Film editing, you know, a part of the cinematic art form? I stand by what I saw, which was complete fucking torture to the 23 or 24 year old who saw it. That said, I volunteer to watch it again, an approved version of some length, particularly if it is on DVD or otherwise digital so I can skip around to the good parts].
[Josh also tells me that he can find no evidence of an 8 hour version of Solaris. This is very odd, and requires more research. I will either have to find a library with the monthly Nuart notices back to 1976 or find a film expert online, or a relevant web site to post my question. This is not a retraction, but it is a notice that there has been some doubt expressed that an 8 hour version existed. I think I saw it but it was a hideously painful experience of unbelievable and unrestricted boredom, and very long ago. I do not usually misremember things, but I sometimes misunderstand what I am seeing and thus remember something that did not happen as I recall it, a subtle point. I have been known to confuse when something happened, e.g. what year it happened. It may take a while, but the story of whatever it is I think I saw will become clear eventually and when I find out I will update this post. ]
I thought I was going to die of boredom. This is your great intellectual Science Fiction masterpiece?, I thought to myself in the lobby, slamming down bad liquid caffeine and chocolate brownie units, trying desperately to stay awake. Give me a one-eyed slime monster any day of the week, at least it isn't pretentious, just cheap.