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Solaris

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“Solaris” is a science fiction film of 1972 directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, based on the novel of the same name by Stanisław Lem. The plot of the film follows Kris Kelvin, an astronaut sent to a space station orbiting the alien planet Solaris, where strange events and apparitions occur.

The film explores themes such as loneliness, the nature of love and consciousness, and the difficulty of communicating with alien beings. Tarkovsky used a number of unique cinematic techniques to create a surreal and metaphysical atmosphere, such as long takes, out-of-focus shots and the use of ambient sound.

“Solaris” is considered one of the masterpieces of science fiction cinema, and has had a huge influence on other subsequent films of the genre. The film also inspired a 2002 remake directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring George Clooney. However, Tarkovsky’s original film is still widely regarded as the definitive benchmark for philosophical science fiction in cinema.

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Plot

Solaris

The storyline of ‘Solaris’ follows Kris Kelvin, an astrophysicist who is sent to a space station orbiting the alien planet Solaris to investigate strange events that have occurred there. Upon arriving at the station, Kelvin discovers that the three crew members who were there have been suffering from strange psychological phenomena.

Kelvin begins to experience the same effects, including a recurring painful memory of his ex-wife, who committed suicide many years ago. Afterwards, Kelvin is startled by the apparition of his dead wife, who appears to have been “created” by the planet itself. Along with other crew members, Kelvin tries to figure out the mysteries of Solaris and its strange manifestations.

Throughout the course of the film, the central theme is the inability of human beings to fully understand the nature of the Universe and alien creatures. Kelvin tries to communicate with the planet, but discovers that the alien creatures are able to read and influence the minds of humans. Loneliness, loss and the inability to communicate are recurring themes in the film.

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Movie Characters

Solaris

Here is a brief description of the main characters of the film “Solaris”:

  1. Kris Kelvin – played by Donatas Banionis, is an astrophysicist who is sent to the space station orbiting the planet Solaris to investigate strange events.
  2. Hari – played by Natalya Bondarchuk, is an apparition of a deceased character, in this case Kris’s wife. Hari is spawned from the planet Solaris.
  3. Snaut – played by Jüri Järvet, he is one of the crew members of the space station that was on Solaris before Kris arrived. Snaut has been afflicted with strange psychological phenomena caused by the planet.
  4. Sartorius – played by Anatoliy Solonitsyn, is another crew member of the space station. Sartorius is a physicist and mainly focuses on scientific research related to Solaris.
  5. Gibarian – played by Sos Sargsyan, is the commander of the space station. However, when Kris arrives on Solaris, Gibarian is already dead, and Kris must investigate his death and the mysterious events leading up to his death.

These are just some of the main characters in the film, which focuses on the nature of humanity, communication and loneliness.

Production

Solaris

The film “Solaris” was produced by the Soviet Union and was directed by director Andrei Tarkovsky. The screenplay was written by Tarkovsky together with Fridrikh Gorenshtein, based on the novel of the same name by Stanisław Lem.

The production of the film was quite complex and took several years to complete. The initial budget was limited and the production had to rely on already available equipment and resources. Furthermore, the film was shot at a time when political tensions were high and the production had to contend with Soviet government censorship.

Despite these difficulties, Tarkovsky managed to make an innovative and gripping film, using cutting-edge cinematic techniques to create a surreal and metaphysical atmosphere. The film was mainly shot in an old mattress factory near Moscow, which was turned into a science fiction set.

The film had a great impact on international cinematic culture and paved the way for a new generation of science fiction filmmakers and arthouse cinema. Even today, the film is considered a classic of science fiction cinema and an important work in the career of director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Distribution and Reception

The film “Solaris” was first released in 1972 in the Soviet Union, but was also shown at international festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival and the San Sebastian Film Festival. The film’s distribution in the United States was delayed until 1976 when it was released by an independent distribution company.

The film received very positive critical response. Many critics praised Tarkovsky’s innovative direction and his ability to create a surreal and metaphysical atmosphere. The film was also praised for its performances, cinematography and score by composer Eduard Artemyev.

Despite major critical acclaim, the film was not a commercial success. Nevertheless, it has become a classic of science fiction cinema and an important work in Tarkovsky’s filmography. Over the years, the film has been re-evaluated and gained increased attention from audiences and critics, and has been the subject of many DVD and Blu-ray re-releases.

The film has also inspired a number of film and television adaptations, including a 2002 Hollywood adaptation directed by Steven Soderbergh with George Clooney in the lead role.

Style

The style of “Solaris” is characterized by the unique vision of director Andrei Tarkovsky, who used innovative cinematic techniques to create a surreal and metaphysical atmosphere.

The film focuses on the investigation of humanity, communication and solitude, and Tarkovsky uses symbolic imagery and metaphors to convey these ideas. Film photography is often dark and saturated, creating a sense of oppression and estrangement.

Tarkovsky also uses special editing techniques, such as long static shots, to create a sense of anticipation and tension. This slow and contemplative editing style gives the characters and scenes more time to develop and allows the viewer to immerse themselves in the film’s surreal atmosphere.

The soundtrack of the film, created by the composer Eduard Artemyev, contributes to the surreal atmosphere of the film with the use of electronic and dissonant sounds.

In summary, the style of “Solaris” is characterized by a slow, contemplative and symbolic approach, which uses images, sounds and editing techniques to create a surreal and metaphysical atmosphere. This unique style made the film a classic of arthouse cinema and influenced many subsequent science fiction and arthouse filmmakers.

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Director

Andrei-Tarkovsky

The director of “Solaris” was Andrei Tarkovsky, one of greatest directors in the history of cinema. Born in Zavrazhye, Russia, in 1932, Tarkovsky studied film at the Moscow Institute of Cinematography, where he developed his distinctive and innovative style.

Tarkovsky’s filmography consists of only seven films, but each work is considered a masterpiece of arthouse cinema. His films are known for their slow, contemplative style, symbolic and metaphysical imagery, and their ability to explore the depths of human experience.

Tarkovsky tackled complex topics such as spirituality, memory, identity, time and death, using innovative cinematic techniques to create a surreal and metaphysical atmosphere. He worked in extreme detail, giving great importance to the choice of locations, the photography and editing choices, and the choice of the soundtrack.

“Solaris” is one of his most famous films, but also “Stalker” (1979), “Andrei Rublev” (1966) and “The Looking Glass” (1975) are considered masterpieces of auteur cinema and science fiction cinema. Tarkovsky has influenced many subsequent filmmakers, including Terrence Malick, Lars von Trier, and Christopher Nolan, and is considered a major figure in Russian and international film culture. Tarkovsky died in Paris in 1986, aged 54.

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