After fully viewing Solaris – Part 2

November 8, 2009

In response to my previous blog, focus was put upon the clip’s relevance having seen the entire film from which it was sourced. After various questions arose from viewing the clip, one aspect that maintained my interest was the conversation between Kris and Dr. Snaut. What is most memorable from the dialogue is its sub-textural format and the comments Kris makes that seem to disclose a large amount of undertone present within the scene.

“Dr. Snaut

It looks like it’s showing some activity. Your encephalogram helped.

Kris Kelvin

You know…whenever we show pity, we ravage ourselves. Maybe its true…Suffering makes life seem dismal and suspect. But I won’t accept that. No, I won’t accept that. Is that which is indispensable to life also harmful to it? No, it’s not harmful. Of course it’s not harmful. Remember Tolstoy? His suffering over the impossibility of loving mankind as a whole? How much time has passed since then? Somehow I can’t figure it out. Help me. See, I love you. But love is a feeling we can experience but never explain. One can explain the concept. You love that which you can lose: yourself, a woman, a homeland.  Until today, love was simply unattainable to mankind, to the Earth. Do you understand me, Snaut? There are so few of us. A few billion altogether. A handful! Maybe were here in order to experience people as a reason for love.

Dr. Snaut

He seems to have a fever.

Kris Kelvin

How did Gibarian die? You still haven’t told me.

Dr Snaut

I’ll tell you. Later.

Kris Kelvin

Gibarian didn’t die of fear. He died of shame. Shame – the feeling that will save mankind.”

Script of the dialogue from the clip. [Sourced online] translated here from the subtitles of the clip [Accessed 3rd November]

Dialogue is a device that Tarkovksy uses to describe the intimate thoughts felt by the characters, rather than naturalistic tendency. In other words the dialogue not only pushes the narrative, but also acts as the narrative due to the philosophical statements that seem to reveal the diversity of the film’s characters.

Whilst looking closer it could be suggested that a nihilistic viewpoint resonates throughout Kris’ monologue. The reasons for this argument finds it self within the line suffering makes life seem dismal and suspect”, as such represents the beliefs founded upon the nihilistic notion that “nothing is worthwhile; life is pointless and human values are worthless[1]. With this implication it is clear that characters (in this case Kris) are written in the way that they imply or emulate certain views evident within the tangible world. The inclusion of philosophical thought and ideologies such as the nihilistic undertone within several highlighted lines of Kris’ monologue add depth to the character and suggest that he or she is real in the way that they disclose comments which are relative to the world we live in. As a result, it represents a lot more than just the primary reasons behind the character. The dialogue signifies that the characters are not just characters, but an element of realism is established within the celluloid world they are comprised of. However what is the reason of this as a cinematic tool.

This quote taken from Tarkovsky’s own writings establishes that realism is an integral part of his work as a filmmaker but more importantly an auter:

“Unfortunately the science fiction element in Solaris was nonetheless 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. I think that reality to which an artist is drawn as a means of saying what he has to about the world, must – if you will forgive the tautology – be real in itself: in other words understood by a person, familiar to him since childhood. And more real a film is in that sense; the more convincing will be the author’s statement.”

Taken from Tarkovsky: Sculpting in Time –  reflections on the cinema, by Tarkovsky A., translated from Russian by Kitty Hunter-Blair (1986, published by Texas Press, Page 199-200)

Further lines of inquiry:

Why did Tarkovsky choose to adapt Stanislaw Lem’s Novel so loosely?

What was Lem’s reaction?

Did Tarkovsky adapt a previously made work or did he undertake Lem’s novel and craft it into his own subjective piece?

[1] Definition of nihilism [sourced online] from the website (Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2008 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.) [Accessed 3rd November 2009]



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