Andrei Tarkovsky’s Blu-Tinted Memories

“Unfortunately the science fiction element in Solaris was too prominent and became a distraction. The rockets and space stations — required by Lem’s novel — were interesting to construct; but it seems to me now that the idea of the film would have stood out more vividly and boldly had we managed to dispense with these things altogether.”

– Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time

“Don’t turn a scientific problem into a common love story.”

– Dr. Snaut in Solaris

Newly released on Blu-ray is Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 sci-fi masterpiece Solaris, the first of the maverick director’s films to receive an HD upgrade and thus a cause for celebration. Not only is the Criterion Collection’s release a splendid looking and sounding disc, it represents a real improvement over its earlier SD counterpart in ways both subtle and obvious. The most crucial difference, and the one that should have all Tarkovsky acolytes readily willing to “double dip” for the Blu-ray, is that some of the film’s black-and-white sequences have now been restored to their original blue-tinting following Tarkovsky’s wishes. This reason alone justifies upgrading one’s version of Solaris but there are other areas of improvement cinephiles will be thankful for as well.

Based on the celebrated novel by Stanislaw Lem, Solaris tells the futuristic story of Russian cosmonaut/psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis), assigned by the government to investigate the strange goings-on in a space station that is orbiting the title planet; one of the scientists aboard the station has mysteriously disappeared, one has committed suicide and the others have begun to experience visual and aural hallucinations. Kelvin’s job is to make a report on the mental health of the remaining two scientists but upon arriving he too begins succumbing to inexplicable visions, such as the mysterious reappearance of Hari (Natalya Bondarchuk), his deceased wife who had committed suicide ten years before the film’s narrative proper begins. Eventually, Kelvin realizes that the mysterious Solaris Ocean has the power to make manifest the innermost thoughts of anyone who comes near it. The very concrete nature of these hallucinations (Kelvin is capable of contacting Hari physically and his fellow scientists share his hallucinations of her) allow Tarkovsky to ask the philosophical question of what the value would be of interacting with a person conjured up by one’s own id – if one also knew deep down that, no matter how seemingly empirically verifiable, the person in question was not in fact “real.” The question becomes trickier as the plot progresses because the longer Hari exists as a hallucination, the more she appears capable of developing her own independent consciousness.

Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow is a key reference point in Solaris:

This description probably makes Solaris sound more action-packed than it is. The film clocks in at two hours and forty-seven minutes and unfolds at a languid (some would say glacial) pace as Tarkovsky often lets shots tick past the two-minute mark before cutting. Unusual for science fiction, he also continually references classical works of art from the Venus de Milo and Brueghel’s Hunters in the Snow to Faust and Don Quixote to Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Bach. Finally, there is an intentional dearth of the sort of “special effects” one typically associates with the genre, although Tarkovsky’s crew built elaborate sets for the space station interiors. But even this last aspect was apparently too much for the great director, whose monk-like sense of artistic purity led him to rue having to acknowledge these relatively modest genre trappings. This is probably why he later referred to Solaris as the weakest of his films, barely giving it a mention in his essential memoir Sculpting in Time. I would argue however that Tarkovsky was dead wrong; I find Solaris the perfect balance of big budget filmmaking and big ideas, resulting in an uncommonly soul-stirring exploration of the “inner space” of memory and conscience. The film’s dirge-like rhythms and supernatural cinematography (all misty landscapes and roiling ocean surfaces) as well as the riddle-like plot (here is a movie that demands and rewards multiple viewings!) contribute to the awesome hypnotic power that Tarkovsky could generate in his very best work. I also personally find it infinitely preferable to his last two films, the shot-in-Italy Nostalghia and the shot-in-Sweden The Sacrifice, where he was essentially handcuffed into making the films of a tourist (in the former case a semi-autobiographical film about a Russian artist in exile, in the latter an Ingmar Bergman imitation).

As for the aforementioned blue-tinted black-and-white shots, Tarkovsky uses them primarily for flashback sequences, or at least scenes meant to recall the past, such as the scene where Kelvin attempts to eradicate memories by burning documents and photographs associated with his past before leaving Earth. However, as the film progresses and Tarkovsky begins to blur the lines between past and present, reality and fantasy, memory and imagination, these “blue shots” begin to intrude at seemingly random intervals. (A true cinematic poet, Tarkovsky would never carry out a system of color-coding that could be understood entirely in logical, intellectual terms.) But the blue-tinting serves another crucial function that was lost in Criterion’s earlier non-blue-tinted DVD transfer: it makes explicit the connection between the memories and fantasies of Kelvin and the similarly tinted images that appear on the space station’s video monitors. Memories and fantasies are like films, Tarkovsky seems to be saying, capable of being watched and rewatched forever in the movie theaters of our minds.

Tarkovsky predicts the advent of the 60-inch widescreen television:

Criterion created this new HD transfer from a 35mm low-contrast print struck directly from the original negative and it looks astonishingly good (as one would expect coming from this label). The Blu-ray makes a commendable leap forward over previous home video editions in terms of its film-like properties including a nice sheen of grain that no doubt accurately represents the film’s theatrically projected look. While Tarkovsky’s color films all share a relatively soft and moody palette, the colors on this Blu-ray “pop” in a way that they never have on home video until now. The audio is likewise improved with Bach’s “Choral Prelude in F Minor” sounding particularly robust and pleasing on the lossless mono track. One can only hope that Criterion will soon see fit to present Andrei Roublev, Tarkovsky’s greatest film, with the same loving treatment.


About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

35 responses to “Andrei Tarkovsky’s Blu-Tinted Memories

  • Trinidad Dyals

    I love this post. Very well written.

  • Top Ten Home Video Releases of 2011 « White City Cinema

    […] (Fincher, Sony Pictures Blu-ray) More here. 29. Solaris (Tarkovsky, Criterion Blu-ray) Full review here. 30. Some Like it Hot (Wilder, MGM Blu-ray) 31. The Stranger (Welles, HD Cinema Classics Blu-ray) […]

  • Adriel Wiedeman

    I enjoy the science fiction genre, but I found this film difficult to get into. While Solaris is a beautiful film, both visually and aurally, I don’t think I completely understood the story. It seemed to bringing up deep philosophical questions, as you mentioned earlier, what is the value of interacting with the hallucination (what is real?), but I did not fully grasp some of the characters dialogue and action motivation. Maybe things were lost in translation, or I because I was reading the subtitles I missed what was happening visually on the screen. I think I will have to view this film again to put the pieces of the story together.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Adriel, while I sympathize with your confusion, I would like for the main thrust of the dialogue here to be about what this film DOES, rather than how you or your classmates might FEEL about it. Try and translate your subjective response into more objective statements about the film: if you felt confused, what specific choices did the filmmakers make that made you feel that way? Or perhaps providing concrete examples of what you refer to as the film’s beautiful images and sounds would be a better place to start.

      While the way the story slowly unfolds does make the film feel almost willfully obscure at times, I think it’s safe to say that this is essentially the story of a man in love with the memory of his dead ex-wife! I told you before the film began that it was about “grief” but after seeing it tonight, I realize that it might be even more about guilt. Kelvin feels horribly guilty that his wife, Hari, committed suicide because he left her shortly before her death. Therefore, when she appears before him on the space station, it is not literally her but the “materialization of his conception” of her. She thus appears loving, faithful, fiercely loyal, impossibly good. In short, she is the ideal woman! The planet Solaris, which I think is some kind of metaphor for the human conscience, kicks Kelvin’s guilt into overdrive and causes him to relive her suicide over and over again.

  • Garrett Solomon

    Thinking back about how much Andrei Tarkovsky despised Hollywood, it occurred to me that, with “Solaris,” maybe he actually wanted to retaliate by confusing the American moviegoing public while still getting his point across. If that’s the case, then I think he did a very good job.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I doubt Tarkovsky’s goal was to confuse the “American movie-going public” (or any public for that matter). I think he wanted to touch and elevate the soul of the viewer by making films that raised big questions about life while simultaneously avoiding cinematic formulas and cliches.

      Now let’s step it up and talk about what this movie actually accomplishes, folks.

      • Garrett Solomon

        One thing I know about “Solaris” was that the film (as well as the rest of Tarkovsky’s ouvere) was a huge influence on director Lars Von Trier, and to me, it really shows in the only two films I’ve seen from LVT so far: “Antichrist” (which is dedicated to Tarkovsky) and “Melancholia.” In my opinion, Lars Von Trier is as close as we can get to having Tarkovsky alive today. (Speaking of influenced directors, did Terrence Malick see “Solaris” too? It sure does feel like it to me.)

      • Garrett Solomon

        After reading Ebert’s essay on “Solaris” and then watching the film a second time, I think that I have a better understanding of some of the underlying themes. I agree that the planet Solaris is a metaphor for human consciousness and our perception of reality. I think that maybe Hari was weighing in on Kris’ conscience and making him feel guilty, which is why a different version of her reappeared. I also think that Tarkovsky challenges the concept of love and what it really means. Sometimes, our minds create an idea of who someone is that is different from who they actually are. The mind is a very powerful thing and can often fool our senses. The film draws on powerful emotions and what it means to be human. You could really feel the emotions especially when Hari commits suicide again. I think another major aspect of this film is the idea of how the modern world is changing and it may be changing our perceptions of other humans as well, a theme that was also reflected in another film we watched, “Play Time.”

      • michaelgloversmith

        Thanks for taking the time to post additional thoughts, Garrett. You just bumped up your grade on this assignment from a 5 to a 10. I’m glad you said “Tarkovsky challenges the concept of love and what it really means.” I would say the human mind ALWAYS creates ideas of other people (and things) that are different from what they really are. There is a certain branch of philosophy that believes the only thing one can ever truly know is the contents of one’s own mind. Solaris literalizes this idea with the relationship between Kris and Hari.

  • Alejandro Raskind

    Solaris was able to play at my emotions while viewing it. I completely understood how this movie has been said to make the viewer admire the beauty of Earth, feel trapped as it is taken away, and appreciate Earth once the film is over. The insanity that is brought upon the characters on the space station is so well established in the film that I could feel it. It is the type of film where I almost felt like I was going a little crazy watching it. It was definitely far off from an escapism film, because for me it did the complete opposite and caused me to think more. I agree that there is an element of confusion in Solaris but I believe it is a different intention of confusion. I thought that the confusion in Solaris was there because the characters were confused themselves while on the space station and Tarkovsky did an amazing job of making us feel this confusion along with them. The film is confusing because the characters are confused and the fact that we feel this adds to the films power.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Well said, Alejandro. I think it’s interesting that you start off by saying Solaris “played at your emotions” and then later say that that it’s the “opposite of escapism” and that it made you think more. I think Tarkovsky wants to provoke viewers both intellectually and emotionally. As far as the latter aspect is concerned, one needs to only look at the incredible performances of Natalya Bondarchuk as Hari and Donatas Banionis as Kris Kelvin. Both of them cry real tears during the film and it is, I think, very easy for us to “feel” for their characters even though the movie surrounding them is so unconventional and difficult. I think Bondarchuk in particular is impressive for making us feel sympathy for a character that is really nothing more than someone else’s hallucination — albeit one that seems capable of developing its own consciousness. Perhaps we feel so much for her precisely because she’s not “real.”

      I agree that feeling both confused and like one is going a little crazy is appropriate because both of those reactions mirror what happens to the characters in the film (like you say).

  • Unurtsetseg Munkhjargal

    I think this film was good experience of psychological sci-fiction, however it was hard to get what was really happening. I liked the most scenes especially shoots about nature. Even though the most scenes seemed in too slow motion, i respect Tarkovsky’s idea and point of view. He wanted to show every detail and didn’t want audience to miss single shot.
    I think he did great job using special effects such as showing Hari’s wound recovering by itself so quickly.The only thing i was confused most is that even Hari’s appearance is hallucination not only just Kris, other 2 scientists were able to touch and feel her. I think this statement made the movie highly psychological.

    • michaelgloversmith

      The shots of nature in the beginning (especially the reeds undulating underwater in the lake) are unforgettable. I’m sure their tactile presence on screen is what Akira Kurosawa had in mind when he said that the rest of the movie made him feel “homesick for earth.”

      The fact that the other two scientists, Snaut and Sartorius, can see and touch Hari does seem weird. But I think the movie raises the possibility that they too are the hallucinations of Kelvin. The final scene (where it’s raining indoors) suggests that Kelvin is still on the space station and that everything around him is a hallucination. So maybe everything in the beginning was a hallucination too and he never left the planet Earth!

      For those of you who are still struggling with the movie, I suggest you might also want to read Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” review. Ebert was a good mainstream critic who knew how to write about difficult movies like this in an accessible way:

  • Neil Chisholm

    “Solaris” is a movie I am glad I saw because it has a reputation, but I really
    don’t need to see it again. The director Tarkovsky took his time to tell the tale;
    it asks the viewer to be really patient. Mainly there was not much music or even
    machine hums. David Lynch could have created some very interesting ones.
    The sets looked like the Doctors had given up having pride in their surroundings
    and there was trash all over. There was a notable lack of humor; that was kind
    of oppressive. The hero Kris looked a bit like Oliver Reed: handsome but just
    a bit past his prime. His “wife” Hari had a beautiful and hauntingly Russian look.
    I felt sorry for her. If she was only a replica, Kris should have gone along with
    it without complaining so much. When he finally left the space station, I guess
    she would have disappeared. The ending said to me that Kris had died and was
    living in an afterlife with a leaky roof. I couldn’t care too much about the other two
    guys. Let me refer you to a schlocky low budget 1961 movie called “Journey
    to the Seventh Planet” with John Agar, in which an alien brain on Uranus
    conjures up the absent womenfolk of crew members to defeat them.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Ha! I think the point of the “leaky roof” is that the planet Solaris has screwed up in creating a replica of Kelvin’s father’s home (based, of course, on Kelvin’s memories) by accidentally making it rain inside instead of outside. You know, like a computer glitch.

      Have to disagree with your comments about the music. The Bach organ piece is very effective at conjuring up a melancholy mood and the electronic sounds during the driving scene contribute enormously to its hypnotic power.

      I will look into Journey to the Seventh Planet. There’s actually a very good unofficial Hollywood remake of Solaris (not the Soderbergh/Clooney perfume commercial) called Event Horizon. It’s a sci-fi/horror flick starring Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (he of Resident Evil fame).

  • Charles Cadkin

    I think some people didn’t enjoy “Solaris” not because of its pacing but because they didn’t really give it a chance. As it has been pointed out, Tarkovsky meticulously paced the film in such a way that everything plays in front of us and we can decide what to do with that information. And we definitely have enough time to process that information and make our own judgments because of the pacing. Now, after reading up on the film in more than a few places, I feel like I have a better understanding of the themes and underlying questions that were presented.
    Mr. Smith asked us how we would feel about living in a world that we knew was essentially fake? Well, I think this is essentially what we need to think about in the context of Kris. Once he’s realized that Hari is just a manifestation of his mind, it’s his decision whether or not he loves her or the idea of her. He understands that she is not real, but still loves her. It’s questions such as these that are the real basis of the film. The other men in space with Kris seem to have adjusted to these conditions and don’t really seem to care that they’re living with people that are just ideas from their mind. If I’m remembering correctly, both Dr. Snaut and Sartorius are hinted at having their own manifestations running around aboard the ship. We briefly see some children and see something move in the background of a shot, implying that they’ve all succumb to Solaris. I think watching these men and what they’ve adjust to and the fact that the other man, Kris’ friend, committed suicide are all interesting and relevant reactions to these interesting questions about leading an almost fake life or deciding not to.
    These relationships are interesting to watch, but the most interesting is Hari’s decision to destroy herself. It’s an odd ending because Hari is just a piece of Kris’ mind and Kris couldn’t destroy her himself, but ultimately I think he did destroy her because she is a part of his mind.
    And although I enjoyed the film overall, there were two parts that stuck with me more than others. The scene right before Kris ends up on the ship, where we are in a car, is extremely mesmerizing. As Mr. Smith pointed out, it’s meant to be the travel sequence that gets Kris to the ship. Although, for me, it pulled me in like the flow of colors near the end in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Only, Tarkovsky’s version of this is much more impressive to me because of his budget and imagination with this technique. Besides that sequence, the ending was quite possibly my favorite aspect of the film. I like how it ends on such an eerie note, continuing many of the themes that Tarkovsky presented throughout the film. I think it’s obvious that Kris is on the planet Solaris as we initially see it raining inside and Kris’ father seems not to notice at all. Kris must notice this, but he still falls to his knees and hugs his father despite the fact that he must know that this is all fake. It’s a pretty bleak ending, to say the least, but I love it, especially as the camera pulls back and we see them on the island.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I’m glad you cited the car scene as one of your favorites. The analogy with the “flow of colors” in 2001 is a good one: they’re both primarily non-narrative sequences that attempt to evoke a druggy or dreamy or trance-like state. Anyone who puts too much expectations on “story” in either film is bound to feel disappointed in sequences like these. It’s not about “What will happen next?” It’s about creating a sense of cosmic wonder, which is what the science-fiction genre does at its very best.

      Incidentally, you should check out Godard’s ALPHAVILLE if you haven’t already. He successfully creates a futuristic dystopian world in that film without the aid of elaborate sets, costumes or special effects, by just making careful choices in how to light and shoot Paris circa 1965.

      • Charles Cadkin

        I haven’t seen Alphaville, but I will sometime soon. I’m still in the process of watching Godard’s films chronologically. Next up is Band of Outsiders.

      • michaelgloversmith

        I love BAND OF OUTSIDERS. I was thinking of showing that in Perspectives on Film in the Spring so you may want to hold off if you’re thinking of taking that class. My favorite Godards are PIERROT LE FOU and WEEKEND but they’re a little more difficult. BAND OF OUTSIDERS and CONTEMPT are the gateway drugs to those later masterpieces!

  • John Bendewald

    Tarkovsky called this one of his weakest films? Then his others must be damn good… he strikes me as a pretty modest guy, who clearly didn’t realize the significance of his creation. I’ll be honest; Solaris wasn’t one of my favorites for this class, but I can definitely see how it could grow on someone with each subsequent viewing. The length and “glacial” pacing is obviously the biggest downside, and I’ll bet it’s a major turnoff for viewers who are used to action-packed sci-fi flicks. Even though it was tough to sit still for 187 minutes, however, the tempo made everything in the film feel deliberate and purposeful, as if Tarkovsky slowed things down so that he wouldn’t miss any chances to add meaning. Interestingly enough, I got to see Gravity this weekend, and I find myself constantly comparing the two films in my mind. While the latter film truly RELIED on visuals, I agree with Tarkovsky (or at least understand where he was coming from) in the sense that the visuals and the science fiction element itself was almost more distracting than helpful. Solaris could have easily fulfilled its purpose (and perhaps even better fulfilled it) if the whole space theme was worked into something else, but as Tarkovsky said, such aspects were required by the novel. Changing them was obviously not an option, and in Lem’s defense, the whole “telepathic-planet-ocean-organism-thingy” IS a pretty good gimmick to directly ask the reader/viewer “what the value would be of interacting with a person conjured up by one’s own id” (as you say). Regardless, Tarkovsky worked with what he had, and I believe that he made a successful (albeit LONG) movie, from what I’m sure was a great book.

    As an afterthought, here’s a quote from my favorite Counting Crows song;
    “If dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts.”
    Not quite sure how it relates, but there’s definitely a connection somewhere…

    • michaelgloversmith

      Well, it’s unfortunate that he said it was his “weakest” film because that has made it too easy for people who don’t like it to use that statement against it: “Even the DIRECTOR didn’t like it!” But all Tarkovsky really meant was that he wished he could have made a film about the same ideas without having to resort to the genre trappings of sets and special effects. And he actually did do this in 1979 with STALKER, which is a better (and more difficult) film. Hilariously, even George Clooney justified the Hollywood remake of SOLARIS by saying that the original wasn’t one of the director’s “better films.” I’m sure Clooney prefers ANDREI RUBLEV!

  • Phil Ahn

    Solaris, a psychological film, that explains about a man who goes into space and starts experiencing his past in sense of reality towards him and to the other scientist on the space station. The slow pace of the movie can also be because it can explain the mind of the main character as he is slowly trying to understand everything in concept and put it together.
    The scientists add more to the psychological emphasis because they are in a state of mind that can also see what Kris is feeling and experiencing.
    The importance of Earth and the nature he was around depicted that it was going to be Kris last time on Earth because in the end he ended up living up in the station with a state of mind that is confusing and interpreted through his own thoughts,

  • Jerry Valakas

    While watching the movie I found myself becoming antsy at the slow moving pace, but near the end I became accustomed to the tempo. Finally when it was over I found myself in a pensive yet tranquil state. A philosophical state of questioning analogous to the feeling I had when I would leave my intro to philosophy class last year. I didn’t necessarily love the movie, but the fact that it changed where I was mentally is to be noted. I can assume this is not an easy feet for a film maker to achieve. Like wise with music. All art tries to give off a certain mood and it is really up to the viewer to decide if it mixes well with them or not. The mood of Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” is a bleak one like Charles said. It seems that there is no good in the entire film. I don’t think throughout the whole film you see anyone smile. Everyone is very serious and wants to get down to the root of the problem (Solaris’s ocean conjuring up hallucinations that become misconceived as real beings.) I assume Tarkovsky wanted to make this the attitude because the questions he asks in the film, although they might not be explicitly stated, are very relevant real questions and those to be taken seriously. Clearly this film brings up questions paralleled to those of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. What is the point of living if you do not live the truth or live with what’s real? This is something that Kelvin has to deal with and in the end of the film. I don’t think he was strong enough to deal with reality. it is an eerie scene when you think Kelvin is back home, but clearly because of the odd things happening (raining in his home), this is not his home, but a island created by the unconscious imitating waves of Solaris’s ocean.
    The reason I say this question is relevant to today is because I foresee at some point, sooner than people think, that virtual reality will become so real that one could possibly live a separate life in a virtual space. Think about it. isn’t this already happening? People play mmorpg’s like World of Warcraft and many spend more time playing… living in this other world than the real one. Also I think this reflects on drug culture as well. many people use drugs as a crutch for happiness or a brief escape, but not once have I seen someone be happy solely on drugs. At this point life is about finding ways to stay high, apposed to being sober and genuinely finding things that bring you happiness. rather than just smoking something or pushing a button. Happiness is not a state of mind, but a state of being.
    I guess the overall question is: can one live happily in a simulated, or fake environment? I would say with the knowledge that it is fake, no, but if the person was unaware well then I think they’d be just fine. This movie make me think of “The Matrix” and “The Truman Show”… ignorance is bliss.

    • michaelgloversmith

      The analogy with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is a great one. But I’m not so sure that Kelvin is “not strong enough” to deal with reality. We ALL tell ourselves lies in order to deal with reality and go on living, no? The human capacity for self-deception is infinite. Kelvin’s delusions, which revolve around the deaths of loved ones (not only his wife but his father as well) are perfectly understandable and should make him sympathetic and relatable. People with addictions (whether drugs, World of Warcraft, gambling, shopping or whatever) are tragic cases because they are truly trying to escape from reality.

  • stefan

    Solaris is not like any other film I have ever seen. The tempo of the movie is very important for the viewer. It allows the audience to soak up the poetic message Tarkovsky is trying to send. The lines between reality, consciousness and time are crafty blended to create a tunnel into the abyss that everyone holds within their minds.By this I mean the thoughts people experience when they wander off and try to find meaning. Tarkovsky’s film portrays this thought process. Kelvin, a psychiatrist is an excellent vessel for this premise. Because he has the largest understanding of how the mind works, this makes Kelvin an excellent candidate to succumb to solaris’s grip. Tarkovsky’s argument is that real or not, the emotions, feelings and beliefs we hold are more powerful than the truth at times. Hari is a prime example of how denial can be turned into an idea that gnaws at you constantly to be real. Tarkovsky eloquently portrays a man on a journey to discover meaning and reality, but to his demise it is something that is just out of reach.

    • michaelgloversmith

      To say that the “emotions, feelings and beliefs we hold are more powerful than the truth” really gets to the heart of what SOLARIS is about. This comes across perhaps most powerfully in the scene where Sartorius asks Kelvin to perform an autopsy on Hari, saying that it would be more humane than operating on a rabbit; Kris, of course, is horrified at the thought.

  • Eva Morales

    The example given in the beginning of the class was a great way to get us thinking about the film Solaris. Personally, I would enjoy being able to fall asleep and ‘live’ in my own made up reality, but only for a short while. I think it would be an amazing experience, but I wouldn’t be able to do it for the rest of my life, since in the back of my mind, I would always know that none of it was real. The director Andrei Tarkovsky tries to explore this philosophical question in his film. The main character of this film, Kris, goes through a similar situation. On the mysterious space ship circling the planet Solaris, a hallucination of his dead wife, Hari, appears before him. The first time she appeared, he seemed to have followed his common sense, knowing that she couldn’t be real, and he tried to get rid of her by sending her off on a rocket into space. However, once Kris discovers that Hari will only continue to reappear before him, he doesn’t resist her any longer.
    The story of how she died is important in understanding the reasons why Kris wanted her to stay even though he knew she was only a hallucination from his conscious. She committed suicide just after he left her because she thought he didn’t love her. This is why Kris feels both grief and guilt, so he may perhaps have been trying to right his wrongs by lying to himself, believing her to be real and trying to love her. Throughout the movie, Hari keeps asking him if he loved her and kept coming up with ways to kill herself again when he would leave her alone even for a little while. But since she is a hallucination, she regenerates back to life. She keeps becoming more realistic to Kris as she stays with him by remembering past memories and thinking more deeply, which only makes it harder for Kris to let her go.
    The ending is slightly confusing, as it is more of a slightly open ending. After Kris suffers from a fever, he has a dream about speaking with his mother. This scene brings to light some similarities between her and Hari. Also, Hari mysteriously disappears from the ship when Kris wakes up. But proof to show that something is still wrong, is the last scene when Kris returns home but the mist from Solaris is still present. This can bring up the question of whether Kris survived his fever or died? These kinds of questions are what Tarkovsky wanted his audience to think about.

  • Robert Manalo

    The movie Solaris was confusing and dragged really hard but I could see why he would do that. Since the movie was confusing I feel like Steven Soderbergh had to show Kris’ feelings and thoughts about Hari. I honestly did not like the movie, if I watched it the second time maybe I’d understand it. Throughout the movie I felt like Kris was confused about his love with Hari. Also in a way he didn’t know what was real and it wasn’t because since the scientist were able to interact and touch Hari made it even more hard for him to understand. During the movie when he was talking to Hari about if he wants to go back or he was going to stay at the station. At the end when you see an island I think in his mind he was still hallucinating that he came home. What I liked about the movie was that it kept you thinking the whole time.

  • Nidah Rahim

    I thought Tarkovsky did an excellent job sending powerful messages within the film Solaris. In my opinion, the key message of the film was to face your problems. I thought the main character Kris, used Solaris as an escape from the psychological issues he was dealing with. As Hari appears at the station, he was faced with the question of living with the ghost of his past, or letting go and accepting the death of his wife. Interestingly Kris falls in love with his mind’s image of his deceased wife, and questions whether its time to let go. Also, I thought Tarkovsky wanted the audience to dig deep within their own thoughts about Solaris, to form their own opinion on the alternate universe, and what it can do for humans. This film definitely put me in the scientists’ shoes, and made me think about how I would face my fears and personal challenges in the face. I particularly liked how Tarkovsky was able to create a very mysterious vibe throughout the film, especially with the scene of one the scientist’s final video, before committing suicide. It immediately drew me into the story, and had me wanting to figure out the planet, and what it was capable of.

    • Paulina Kunda

      I enjoyed this post very much, the movie as well of course. Tarkovsky did a great job with Solaris, he set up a very interesting environment, particularly to have us viewers enter that “science fiction” zone, which is why the movie was really long. Usually people get bored when they feel a movie will never end because its so long but in this case the movie was made this way specifically too let us process what is going on in the film. Afterwards, the movie had me guessing, many movies don’t keep you speechless. This film has to be watched with an open mind, it might seem long and slow but everything eventually falls into place and the overall film makes sense. Tarkovsky wanted his viewers to think hard and really dig deep to try and figure out the messages he was trying to send. I especially liked the relationship between Kelvin and Khari. Not like any other movie I’ve seen before, very enjoyable!

  • Eliza Kolakowski

    From reading what you wrote and from just watching the movie I have to begin by saying that this movie just gave me a really nauseating feeling in the pit of my stomach. There were moments when I just wanted to stop watching, but I couldn’t look away because it was simply difficult to. I felt a huge relief towards the end when he is back on “Earth” and you see all the green, and water. Because of how the movie end which appeared like Kelvin lives on a station himself it made me wonder what if he is stuck between two worlds? Or better yet, what if one world is reality and the other one is not? Then which world is real and which is not and how do you make that decision? What if you decide to kill yourself in one world hoping you would wake up in the real world, but you never wake up because you killed yourself in the wrong world. This movie literally plays with your mind! For a moment, in the scene in which he sees his mom I thought that he died and he met her in “heaven” or something. I also found it very strange with Hari being present through out this whole time and then all of a sudden the mom comes into play. I believe that maybe his mom committed suicide too when she was young and he was obviously too young to remember because why would his mother look so young being shown to him. And then he experienced the same thing with his wife that could’ve traumatized him and he couldn’t let go of it. Overall this movie was interesting, but the word that I think would describe it best for me is disturbing.

  • Raul Bucciarelli

    Reblogged this on daisuzoku.

  • Nick

    I’m watching Solaris for the first time and just got to the scene where he’s burning stuff. I had to look up what the deal was, I thought maybe they were trying to shoot day for night and just did a terrible job, or weird budgetary constraints meant the whole thing couldn’t be colour.

    Back to the film!

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