The visual atmosphere of the scene: How do conventions play a part in Solaris’ classification as a sci-fi film and its place within the genre? Part 1

November 9, 2009

Moving aside from the sequential and denotative meanings,

In this entry, I aim to interrogate Solaris’ inclusion within the sci-fi genre, looking at the whole of the film in general as well as the clip. Although it has been firmly established that Solaris is a sci-fi film, Tarkovksy encapsulates a significantly different atmosphere to that of known sci-fi films prior such as The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951, dir. Robert Wise) and Forbidden Planet (1956, Fred M. Wilcox), which were made in a specific studio system fashion.

Picture 1

A still image from Solaris (1972) Tarkovksy A. [Screen Shot taken online] available from: [Accessed 24th October]

Being one of Tarkovksy’s earlier films, it is evident that cinematic convention and genre play an integral role in not only the clip but contextually throughout the whole film. Examples that firstly, visually identify that it adheres to this genre are evident as we open with two men discussing on what we intuitively believe to be a spacecraft or scientifically advanced ship. The above still is near the end of the clip and coupled with a similar still from 2001: A Space Odyssey, we can see a considerable parallel in terms of both films holding roughly the same aesthetic look.

Stanley Kubrick’s landmark sci-fi film denotes a futuristic and fantastical setting, similar to the space station seen in the sample from Solaris. As a result, we can determine that, given the conventions of sci-fi cinema present in 2001: A Space Odyssey, such as advanced technologies and innovative designs, we can therefore categorise Solaris as being a film that adopts a number of codes and conventions that help to conform and establish a visual look, reminiscent of a science fiction film.


A still image from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) dir. Kubrick S. [online image] Sourced from: [Accessed 24th of October]

However just because both stills establish similar visual inclinations that emulate science fiction conventions, does that mean that Solaris is simply a science fiction film? Aesthetically it resembles such a notion, however when looking at the narrative on a more analytical level the themes of drama, philosophy and the study of the social environment in which the characters live in, leads to more inquiry about the messages and values that Tarkovksy wanted to capture. Also can it also be suggested whether or not on a metaphysical level the sci-fi input was a way of making a film that targets science fiction and as a result an anti technological world as its ethic?


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