View Full Version : "Solaris" thread
11-28-2002, 08:35 AM
1. And all this time I've been pronouncing it "soh-LARE-is."
2. I really enjoyed the movie. It's not standard story fare; rather, this is a movie that presents ideas with images, sounds, and words. It's not the best movie ever made but it's obviuosly an attempt to use cinema as art, rather than just filming a story, and I like to see that sort of thing.
3. Steven Soderbergh is a fabulous director.
4. George Clooney remains my favourite actor.
I just want to ask before spoilers start appearing: If I've seen the original Russian movie and/or read the book, are there any surprises in the movie? Or is it safe to read the spoilers?
11-28-2002, 10:03 AM
I remember the original movie. I am looking forward to the remake - it seems to have received good reviews.
11-28-2002, 10:04 AM
I agree with RickJay, for the most part. Soderbergh is, indeed, a great director. Clooney, who usually plays cocky and confident roles, goes against type here and plays a lonely, introspective man quite convincingly. The movie provides much fodder for thought and discussion about the nature of memory, how perception can be reality, and how people are essentially isolated from one another. That such existential questions are raised in a big budget Hollywood movie is remarkable. If anyone is looking for a smart SF movie, this is the one to go to.
On the other hand, because the movie is cerebral and distant, it lacks the emotional resonance one would expect considering the central tragedy of the story.
That said, Solaris is still one of the best SF movies of the past few decades.
scr4, if you've seen the original or read the book, there will be no surprises for you. The remake focuses a lot more on Kris and Rheya's relationship than the original movie. The central mystery of the nature of the planet as dealt with in the book, is virtually ignored in this version. I think there's room for yet another remake here.
11-28-2002, 01:35 PM
I saw Solaris last night. It's one of my favorite sci-fi novels, and I was hoping the movie would do it justice.
I really liked the movie. That said, I felt like there was a gaping hole in it: the planet Solaris itself is one of the major characters in the book, if not the major character, and it barely has a presence in the movie.
But that's okay. I mean, any adaptation of a novel as rich as Solaris is going to have to pick a subset of the themes from the book to present. The ones Soderbergh picked make for excellent cinema, and the craftsmanship of the movie is just excellent. It's a beautiful piece of artwork.
I went into the theater a little bit afraid that I was going to see "Alien 5: Solaris" or "Message in a Bottle in a Spaceship" or some other cheap knockoff from the Hollywood vault of Five Movie Plots tacked awkwardly onto Lem's beautiful and thoughtful book. And my fears were unfounded.
So, it's not the complete book. But it's the kind of contemporary remake that the book deserves, and it will join Gattaca on my "great sci fi movies about human themes" shelf.
11-30-2002, 09:42 AM
I felt cheated by this movie.
No attempt was ever made to explain the visitors. None whatsoever.
I think it could cure insomnia too, by the way.
11-30-2002, 11:33 AM
I thought the total lack of explanation regarding Solaris and the presence of the visitors was a choice Soderbergh made to change the audience's focus.
11-30-2002, 11:47 AM
One of the main themes of the book is that some things are simply unknowable. To attempt an explanation in the movie would have been a complete betrayal of this premise. In the book, however, there were hints that the planet was studying and gaining an understanding of its human visitors. I wish this aspect had been addressed more explicitly.
On another note, I understand that the author, Stanislaw Lem, is still alive. Has anyone heard his reaction to this movie version? He certainly hated Tarkovsky's version.
11-30-2002, 12:26 PM
Sometimes I think people have strange idea of what to expect of movies. That, or they're so hooked into narrative or plot-based movies that they don't know how to handle a movie like Solaris. Not every movie has to explain everything in it. Obviously it should make logical sense (within the universe it establishes) but it's a perfectly legitimate thing for a movie to do to ask a question but not know the answer.
In other words, Solaris is not about its plot, so it's not required to explain everything it does.
It's weird; I'm about as left brain as it gets but I still love movies like this where everything is emotion and metaphor and deliberate vagueness. Clooney is fantastic in this; he deserves an Oscar, though he's probably not going to get much attention from the Academy (since Solaris is bombing; it's a sad but true reality about the Oscars). He's completely unlike any other role he's played, subdued and reserved instead of charming and animated. Highly reccommended with the caveat that you not should go in expecting everything laid out for you at the end.
11-30-2002, 08:25 PM
I totally agree with Raygun99. The movie posits a world where a set of things are true and then explores concepts within that world. The movie doesn't have to explain what Solaris is, we just accept its presence as the premise of the movie. I loved the movie, and Clooney's performance was certainly extraordinary.
11-30-2002, 10:07 PM
I haven't read the book or seen the first movie, but the New York Times had an article last Sunday comparing the three (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/24/movies/24ROCK.html).
I think I need to digest it a bit more before attempting to piece together exactly what happened.
It's odd, in that it's entirely (to me) about emotion (and, to an extent, emotion's effects on memory), but at the same time, it's one of the chilliest, most Kubrickian films I've seen in a long time.
12-01-2002, 12:44 AM
Shouldn't the title be "Solaris" multithread?
12-01-2002, 05:25 AM
Went in expecting to totally hate the film, even had my hellwarmed pen set to do a Pit thread on the film when I got home. Add to that, when we got to the theater, the guy in the ticket booth said, "I'm not supposed to say anything about the movies being bad, but this one sucks." I was primed for some Soderbergh roasting! And then, damn it! I had to go and like the movie!
Okay, I wouldn't put the film in the "Ten Best Science Fiction Films of All Time," but it was a damn sight better than I was expecting. There's some plot holes in it (which I'll get to), and I think that it was a bit slower paced than it should have been. (Not agonizingly slow, though.)
The film had some cinematic salutes to 2001 (notably when the Athena docked with the station/ship orbiting Solaris), and overall looked good. I didn't really get the feeling of the time period being anything into the future in the scenes that took place on Earth (Thank you product placement! I'd like to believe that if we could travel to another solar system that we'd have something more advanced than an EPT pregnancy test.).
There were some plot holes in the film, however. The biggest, most glaring one was with Viola Davis's character of Helen Gordon. When Clooney arrives on the ship/station Gordon has locked herself in her cabin and refuses to come out or allow anyone to come in. We see one brief scene of her standing in the doorway of her cabin talking to Clooney, and then, suddenly, the next time we see her, she's outside her cabin, calm, cool, and collected. WTF? Given that Clooney's dead wife has shown back up, been flushed into space, and reappeared, I can't imagine what it took to get Gordon to come out. The only thing that I can think of is that Clooney threatened to show her his hairy ass (:eek: ) if she didn't come out. (And why couldn't we see a better shot of Natascha McElhone's ass? It would have helped soothe the eye-searing horror of Clooney's nudity.)
The one thing that I'm wondering is if the novel isn't Stanislaw Lem's covert way of slipping Christianity past the Soviet censors. (That doesn't ruin the film for a non-Christian like myself, merely something I'm curious about.) After all, there is the flashback scene in the film of the dinner party where the topic of God comes up. The other guests at the dinner party laugh at the concept of God and respond with comments about what they see as flaws in how God is conceived. Rheya responds weakly with a description of God that closely matches what Solaris appears to be. Rheya then sacrifices herself out of love for Clooney (admittedly it is a Juliet-style sacrifice, but to sacrifice one's self for love is considered to be the greatest act one can undertake). Later, at Solaris, she's raised from the dead, not once, but twice (Beat that Jesus!). At the end of the film, after Solaris has engulfed the station/ship Clooney asks her if they're dead and she responds with, "We're beyond that now. Everything is forgiven." All they need is a couple of harps, some clouds, and a cherub or two, and they'd be in heaven. I don't know anything about Lem, so I have no idea if this is plausible.
12-01-2002, 11:07 AM
Well, what drives the film?
I think we all agree that it was not the plot.
I would argue that it was not an "idea"-driven film. Such a film would attempt to explore and explain the central idea, and the film made no such attempt. I acknowledge that the film did not have to explain where the visitors came from, but an idea-driven film would have attempted to explain what the visitors or the visitations meant. That was ignored.
So what is left is a character-driven film. And the characterizations made little sense. Gordon was an absolute cipher -- and utterly inconsistent, as Tuckerfan noted. Why make a point of her not leaving her room if in the next scene you were going to have her leave her room?
What was different about her character that made her able to resist her visitor (whoever that was) and also avoid suicide? I mean, that's the most basic concept that Soderbergh ignored - if your characters are going to act differently when faced with the same/similar extraordinary events, you had better explain the differences in the characters.
And as for Kelvin, I acknowledge that Clooney did a great job. But the Kelvin character made little sense. How did he go from jettisoning the first incarnation of his wife to - the very next day - clinging to the second incarnation to the point he defies her wishes and simple sanity.
I also think making Kelvin a psychologist was a very bad idea. Wouldn't that imply some greater ability to resist?
Overall, I can't say that I was disappointed. I went in expected a mediocre film, and that's exactly what I got.
Bad News Baboon
12-01-2002, 05:23 PM
I just saw the film this weekend.
I expected to not be to pleased with the casting of Clooney.
However, I was wrong. i think Clooney did a good job. Watching the movie, i never felt as though I was watching George Clooney.
what I really did find irksome was Snow's character.
yeah. um (insert hand posturing). yeeeeeeah.
he was seriously annoying.
And why was Gordon a woman? Was Gordon not a man in the book and (correct me if I am wong, it's been a while) wasn't it suggsted that Gordon's vistor was a child and Gibarian's was some sort of African Warrior-ess?
I can see that Soderberg wanted to p/c up the film and include a woman's character (i,e, Gordon), but wasn't Snow's character an older man?
but on the whole, I liked the cinematography of the film. I liked the warmth given to an otherwise austere setting. the dream states seemed to have a golden glow to them which was nice. it very much reminded me of a Kubrick film.
12-01-2002, 06:08 PM
Based on the buzz, I too went into the movie expecting it to be horrible. But I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying it. However, it had the same problem with the ending as AI--the movie would have been better if it had stopped a few minutes sooner.
Tuckerfan: As far as I can deduce from his writings, Lem is no way a practicing Christian. I'd bet that if you told him that he was using an unknowable alien entity as a metaphor for God, he would respond that he was doing the exactly the opposite. To misquote Clarke, I think Lem's position is that, due to their limited understanding, humans will percieve any sufficiently advanced alien as being indistinguishable from a deity.
I don't think Lem would have been very fond of the ending of Soderbergh's movie. :)
Here's an excellent Lem Web page. There's a lot more to him than Solaris:
12-01-2002, 06:27 PM
I haven't read the book or seen the other movie, so this is how it seems to someone who sees the movie 'cold' (I knew the basics and Solaris was featured in Barlowe's Guide to Extraterretrials. but that's about it).
I think the 'modern-ness' of the movie's setting (nothing in it looked more than 5 or 10 years from now) may have been tied to when the book was written - over 40 years ago, in a time where space exploration was just beginning to take off in a big way. The story may be set 50 years into the future of a 1961 where the space program wasn't abandoned after Apollo, one that happens to have grocery stores, trains, and fashions similar to those of today.
I was curious as to who Gordon's visitor was. I didn't get the impression she was afraid to leave her room, I just thought she didn't want anyone to come in - isn't that what she asked Kris to promise, that he wouldn't try to come in? Then you hear some shuffling and thumping around in the background. I got the impression that Gordon's visitor may have been bound and/or gagged and locked in her closet or something like that. The first thing she does when she makes the device that destroys them is to get rid of hers.
Why did Solaris start growing after they started using the new device to dissolve their visitors? What made this different from destroying them in less direct ways? Solaris had already proven it's ability to make a new one when the old one was disposed of. And if Kris was absorbed into Solaris' memory somehow (as I interpreted the ending) why is this presented as positive in any way? His wife is still just a fragment of a human being, which is made worse by her knowledge of this fact.
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.