A psychologist is sent to a space station orbiting a planet called Solaris to investigate the mental problems of cosmonauts on the station. He soon discovers that there is an entity present which brings out repressed memories and obsessions.
Solaris, discarding complex special effects, fast action and loudness, is very different from Hollywoods lavish, extravagant filmmaking. By living in it’s own cinematic universe, Andrei Tarkovsky employs recurring visual motives and symbolic images, a slow editing rhythm and meditative shots. Every visual detail matters. Certain elements that do not seem to be related to the story, are emphasized, with a clear focus on water as a symbol of memory from the very start – the first few shots are not used to introduce the location, but moreover the main theme of the film. Furthermore, this first moments, also help setting the pace of the movie. It does not start with fast cuts and hyper action, but is moreover built on a slow rhythm and almost meditative staging and blocking. This “slow” start allows the movie to pick up in speed later. Therefore, slightly faster scenes are able to feel more dynamic.
Despite Solaris being a “science fiction” film, it is a very quiet movie with the audio not taking dominance over the visual. This generally means, that the eyes have to work harder, as the ears are not being overrun by sound. Scenes are left with room to evolve, with long shots leaving space for the viewer to reflect on the seen and it’s meaning. The different kind of looks of the movie are not necceseraly chosen out of thought, but because of an outside restriction of there only being a limited supply of film stock. Andrei Tarkovsky was only given a certain amount of Kodak stock, which can explicity be seen being used in the many long shots of the movie.
“Tarkovsky supposedly made Solaris in an attempt to one up on Kubrick after he had seen 2001: A Space Odyssey (which he referred to as cold and sterile). Interestingly enough Kubrick apparently really liked Solaris and I’m sure he found it amusing that it was marketed as the ‘the Russian answer to 2001’.” (1)
(1) Joshua Warren at criterion.com – Source
January 15, 2018
If you like these Stills, make sure to buy the movie, it is our absolutely highest recommendation.
The materials archived, stored, and presented here, are copyrighted by their respective contributors, and may not be saved, re-transmitted, republished, or reformatted by any means, electronic or mechanical. This site offers broad public access to these materials exclusively as a contribution to education and scholarship, and for the private, non-profit use of the academic community. The materials are protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and/or by the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.