Solaris

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1972 – Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

I have learned from having Eastern European roommates that weekends at the country house is a central part of Eastern European family lives. This held true through the Soviet era, and I imagine it may still hold true even today.

Thus is how this surprising-for-the-Soviet era film begins.

There is much to cover in this movie, about projection, reflection, tangibility versus the abstract, the mutability of memory, the incomprehensibility of love in the light of “reason” and our impulse to pathologize it, the simultaneous desire to return and to escape, and our inability to reach outside of ourselves and actually make a human connection, regardless of the technologies available to us.

To cover it all is too much for my usual 3-5 paragraphs. Instead, I’ll touch a little on the production design.

Solaris is a science-fiction movie that is not at all enamored with science. After about 45 minutes on earth, one that contrasts this remote country living with a strange driver-less journey into a Datsun-filled city -actually Japan (a scene much maligned by critics, but which I found exhilarating) we are taken to a space station on remote planet, but one that is decrepit and beat-up, like a trashed appliance. The heart of the ship, rather than looking high-tech or futuristic looks like an old hunting lodge, and interestingly it is where most of the characters explore their deeper thoughts. We encounter what appears to be the dead wife of the psychoanalyst who is sent to investigate the status of things on this station, who spends the entirety of the movie in earth-toned suedes and crochets.

Color scheme of the movie especially intrigued me. Upon doing a little more research, I found a blog which I found truly fascinating:

The recurring theme of Peter Bruegel the Elder was also fascinating to me. This is one of my favorite painters (again earthtones, the implication of nature, the implication of tangibility on contrast with the notion of zero gravity and the unreliability of direct experience). I don’t have an easy answer yet for the larger meaning, and I think it would be a mistake to find a quick and easy summary.

Another note about color design was the switch between sepia tone black-and-white in full color. And I need to mull over more to try to discern the reasoning behind each shot. One of the most striking effects was in the scene driving into Japan, or rather, the city of the future, we see the color gradually leeching its way back in until it is a full color scene, as night falls.

Unlike some of the other movies I’ve been watching, this is definitely something that I will be re-watching, possibly a few times.

I need something funny next, however. Or at least soon, if not next.

Next up: Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, 1990 – Directed by Pedro Almodóvar

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