As a result of watching Solaris as a whole, it becomes apparent that the clip presents an entirely different meaning when presented in such context. Before viewing the film, the character of Kris is seen to be fatigued without any denotative reason for the duration of the clip. By viewing it rationally, it can be construed that he is tired or somewhat troubled as visually, he emulates such characteristics. On the other hand, in the events that unfold previously in the film, we are given further insight into the reason of his exhaustion as we see that he has awoken from a deep sleep. With this notion in mind not only can it be logically determined that he is tired, but the reason in which he wakes and appears to be walking around is more concise.

Many vital points of the plot give the clip relevance as we find out that the unnamed woman in the section is Hari, Kris ex-wife who has died seven years prior when she committed suicide. Although dead, Hari is present in the mind of Kris as the narrative exposes that the liquid planet of ‘Solaris’ appears to replicate forms of memory in the replications of human beings or copies of such life forms.

“Solaris is a sign generator because it produces memories/signs of the deceased. It is an organism that is able to penetrate Kris’ unconscious by inserting materializations of his desires into the real world. The alien planet is understood to be a large brain that communicates with people with the help of ‘visitors’. Thus, Solaris stands for the intellect, for the consciousness and for knowledge. The Earth is presented as the source of human life, and in Russian the word [zemlia] refers to both the planet and its fertile soil. Zemlia is a feminine noun that underscores the relation of Earth’s concept to femininity, birth and reproduction.”

[A section from the book Tarkovksy by Vlad Struko, Edited by Nathan Dunne, Published by Black Dog Publishing , 25th February 2008, London page 67

Using the above source as a way of understanding the concept of the memories induced by the planet, we can now evidently find reason within the characters intentions within the clip. In the 2min 30sec snippet Kris and Dr. Snaut visually look emotionally drained in addition to the tiredness realized by Kris’ physical features. Without having viewed the entire film, this image was left ambiguous but whilst analyzing the above source it concludes why both Snaut and Kris are having such emotional strain as their minds seem to be under the strenuous process of having their intellect affected by Solaris’ reproduction of their memories in the form of humans of the past, in this case Kris’ dead wife Hari.

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First Impressions

November 4, 2009

At first glance, the clip is overwhelming in terms of narrative, partly due to the fact that it is sequentially nearing the end of the film, and having never seen the film, it appears problematic to comprehend, as previous elements of the narrative play a considerable role with to the characters in the clip. However, it could also be interpreted that this could add to the segment, many different lines of inquiry open up when looking at it from an organic point of view. In the beginning, what can be highlighted is the incorporation of codes and conventions of the science fiction genre and contrastingly, the slow pace in which the camera unfolds its protagonists, again surfaces further questions on the directorial decisions Tarkovksy had made in relation to adapting the sci-fi narrative to merge with his own specific cinematic characteristics.

Furthermore, Solaris itself is an adaptation on the novel of the same name by Stanislaw Lem a polish author whose work is the base of this cinematic interpretation. This fact is vital in delivering answers to the meaning of not only the clip, but in the way the film has been constructed and whether or not it adheres to the original source. In addition, this would shed light on whether or not the clip has any denotation in the book or simply its relevance is only grounded within the realm of the cinematic version of Solaris.

In order to fully understand the relevance of the clip in relation to the film, it appears imperative to firstly set a guideline of questions that will highlight significant areas of the clip. Then, through watching the entirety of the film, discuss and analytically distinguish if my previous inquiring was accurate or not.

The initial questions that I had first come to ask were:

  1. Has the novel been adapted accurately, and if so is the clip present in the original source, thus what is its connotative relevance?
  2. Why is the clip relevant to the film as a whole, does it bring something more?
  3. Does the film contain any underlying philosophical or social undertones and messages?
  4. Is the mise-en-scene and camerawork utilised a specific way throughout the clip? Is this formula applied when looking at the conventions of other Tarkvosky works?
  5. Which codes and conventions of the science fiction genre are present in the clip, if not the entire film?
  6. What is the metaphorical relevance of the blinding light near the end of the clip? Is it an aesthetic or a narrative based reason?
  7. What parts of Tarkovsky are present in the film, as an auteur?

After looking upon these questions after viewing the film, I aim to deduce if they can help me pursue a solid foundation in which to research and find further answers and questions throughout my analytical process.

The sequence is presented in its original language, Russian with English subtitles. Three characters are present within the segment, Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis), Dr. Snaut (Juri Jarvet) and Hari (Natalya Bondarchuk). We begin with Kris and Dr. Snaut as they walk longingly around the space station, as this is happening the two discuss about the liquid planet ‘Solaris’. Snaut confers “It looks like its showing some activity” which is followed by him revealing to Kris that his “Encephalogram helped”. As the conversation persists, Kris Begins to feel tired and as such, is helped by Snaut as they walk. We then cut to Kris walking through a cylinder shaped tunnel as he is clutched on to by another character, Hari who is the only female seen in the clip. Both Hari and Snaut act as a balance for the exhausted Kris, whilst they move further into the tunnel where constant shining light can be seen as it fills the frame, so much so that the characters appear to blend into the blinding white illumination.

Encephalogram: “Short for ‘Electroencephalogram’ an instrument for recording the level of electrical activity of the brain” (2008 edition, Collins English Dictionary, p189 Edited by Cormac Mckeown, Elspeth Summers, Published by Harper Collins)

Brief Synopsis

“SOLARIS, director Andrei Tarkovsky’s science fiction cult classic, presents an uncompromisingly unique and poetic meditation on space travel and its physical and existential ramifications. When a long-standing Russian space station hovering above the planet Solaris begins to report strange phenomena, Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis), an eager and intrepid cosmonaut, departs for the station in order to investigate. Warned by former Solaris specialists that the planet presents incomprehensible obstacles, Kelvin is nevertheless secure in his mission. However, the minute he steps foot onto the haunted and desolate space station, everything changes. Kelvin learns that of the three members left on board, one has killed himself and the remaining two have seemingly become schizophrenic recluses. When Kelvin’s dead ex-wife appears out of the shadows, the reports that Solaris is a thinking being capable of reading human minds and materializing their desires and memories are proven true. As Kelvin joins the rest of the crew in a seemingly life-or-death struggle to understand this phenomena, Tarkovsky crafts a mind-altering earthbound space odyssey.

Filled with visions of humanity versus itself, SOLARIS takes the philosophical investigations of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY to extravagant lengths and offers no answers except this: The only frontier humanity has yet to conquer is that of its own existence.

synopsis of Solaris [Sourced online] from the  Internet site, http://www.screenrush.co.uk/film/fichefilm_gen_cfilm=1414.html [Accessed 11th November]

Tarkovsky A., (1972). A sequence from Solaris lasting 2m 30secs that occurs roughly 2 hours and twenty minutes into the film.

Sourced online from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y2ZREQWJSM [accessed 9th October 2009]

Made in: USSR

Russian Title: Solyaris

Produced by: Mosfilm Studio

Producer: Vyacheslav Tarasov Russian

Cast: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Yuri Jarvet, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Vladislav Dvorzhetsky, Nikolai Grinko, Sos Sarkisyan

Script: Andrei Tarkovksy, Friedrich Gorenstein

Camera: E Shvedov

Music: Eduard Artemiev

Sound: Semyon Litvinov

Editing: Lyudmila Feiginova

Running Time: 165min Shot On: B/W and Colour (Sovcolor), 35mm

Original release: 20th March 1972, Soviet Union, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069293/releaseinfo