Solaris, I finally picked up the DVD and was quite vexed at the ending.
Clooney is a psychologist sent to a ship orbiting the planet Solaris. Something is happening to the crew, apparently beings are entering the ship who are mirror images of something in each crew members past. In Clooney’s case it is his dead wife. Presumabley they are generated from Solaris somehow. One crew member comes up with a devise that makes the beings disappear, and not return.
Clooney gets so attached to his being (in the image of his wife) that he never get’s off the ship when people try to escape. The movie ends with him (or an image of him) back on earth with his wife. When Clooney sees her he says, " Am I dead?"
Wife: " No honey, we don’t have to think in that way any more"
So Clooney became one of the beings? Or did the ship he was sent to find Heaven, or some singularity that created these images? Where in fact did Clooney go? Was earth just an image too? Any light shed upon this would be appreciated.
lissener’s right. Clooney stayed behind on the station with the recreation of his wife. The station was enveloped by Solaris as it expanded, which is what lead to the others leaving the station. Since the “wife” could really only exist there, Clooney chose to stay. His reality with his wife sustained by being within the planet itself now.
This book was assigned shortly before the release of the movie to my book club. We were disappointed with the writing, and even more so with the movie, (despite George Clooney’s butt having a cameo appearance).
The book diverges from the movie quite a bit, but the ending, where he seems to be back on earth but then it appears he never left and in fact became symbiotic with the ocean planet is where the movie parts company completely with the novel.
Originally, it appears that George Clooney’s character (Chris Kelvin) is the voice of reason, who, while investigating the mystery on the space station, becomes susceptible to the planets’ experimentation. The book also shows that the apparitions are not just the product of wish fulfillment, but fantasy or simply idle imagination as well. The movie chooses to focus on the concept of wish fulfillment instead.
There was a rip-off movie called “Event Horizon” which seems in some ways to more closely align itself with the story, but then diverges greatly, and worse, falls into horror-movie cliché. The first movie based on the book, also called “Solaris,” is considered the definitive version, still. Andrei Tarkovsky, who directed the first one, is very good at this type of story, but his movies can be an endurance test, if you’re not prepared for them.
I had heard this, and I really wasn’t expecting Soderbergh to create an endurance test of his own. But he did. Totally dropped the ball, I thought. The early sense of dread and eerie atmosphere is wonderful, but it doesn’t lead to anywhere remotely awe-inspiring.
“but it doesn’t lead to anywhere remotely awe-inspiring”
Except the shot of George Clooney’s ass.
My take on it was that Kelvin died when Solaris expanded and engulfed the space station. The “Kelvin” we see at the end is a creation of the planet, just like the other apparitions, only now the Kelvin-apparition and Kelvin’s wife-apparition can be together (playing up on the wish-fulfillment idea).
I told my SO that the story sort of meshed with my idea of what heaven will be like - I’ll get to creat my own heaven that makes me happy. Your heaven may vary.
plnnr’s interpretation is equally valid; your choice.
Of course, I always thought of it as more of a hell than a heaven.
And the Tarkovsky is one of my three or four favorite movies OF ALL TIME. It’s an endurance test if you expect it to be Event Horizon, but if you let the movie dictate its own pace, and just let yourself go along for the ride, its an entirely unique and life altering experience.
The book doesn’t explain anything either. In fact, the overriding theme of the novel is that despite hundreds of deaths and decades of research, Solaris is still a complete unknown. There’s never an explanation. Are the ‘visitors’ conscious parts of the planet, or are they simply reflexes of an unknown alien? You never find out, and I don’t think the author knows either.
The Tarkovsky version does the ending in a magnificent final shot.
[spoiler]Unlike in the book, which starts with Kelvin arriving at the station, much of the start of the film is taken up with his regrets at leaving Earth and there’s a lot of stuff out at a house in the country. At the climax of the film, Tarkovsky leaves Kelvin’s fate unclear and suddenly cuts to him back at this deserted house. Everything is exactly as he remembered it. Just when you think that he’s somehow made it back to Earth, there’s a camera motion that moves effortlessly from a close-up to a helicopter shot high above the house. And the camera keeps on rising, higher and higher. Until it’s seamlessly revealed that the “house” - and Kelvin - is on a new island upon the Solarian ocean.
The final shot of Minority Report was no doubt inspired by it.[/spoiler]
Actually, that specific theme is what I, and the members of the book club took as the underlying idea behind the book.
Solaris is a stand-in for the Almighty, in whatever form we recognize that idea. The idea being that a Godlike being, powerful and omipotent, appears to test us with trials that bring us great anxiety or happiness, but will remain an enigma despite whatever test or theory we bring before it. It may appear to have a malevolent purpose, but in the end it just is. An enigma by its very nature will forever be unexplainable, but mankind will forever reject this and try to explain it, never finding a satisfying answer.
Another member posited that the Stanislaw Lem was writing a hidden description of life in the modern day Soviet Union. I only recall a bit of the discussion, but it also seemed plausible, the concept of a motherly Government-State transitioned in the early-to-mid Twentieth Century into an (to the citizens) outwardly benign but ultimately cruel unseen force.
BTW: Note to Lissener; I HATED “Event Horizon,” and wanted to wash off my eyeballs the moment after the film was over. I knew right away that it was a “Solaris” ripoff, and was disgusted with its cheap violence, poorly written script, and horrid eye-candy special effects.
Tarkovsky, on the other hand, is one of my favorite filmmakers. “The Sacrifice” my favorite of his original, challenging films. One of my most pleasant filmgoing experiences was seeing one of his films there at LA Filmex 1980.
What I intended was to describe how different his films are from Western variety, and how the difference may not be appealing to everyone. I’ve had some bad experiences with friends saying they got bored watching something I recommended. In an effort to be brief, (not accomplished here, of course) I didn’t word my message very well.