164 Solaris

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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zedz
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#26 Post by zedz » Thu Jun 30, 2005 5:32 pm

Faux Hulot wrote:I adore the driving sequence. When I first saw the restored print in a theater, a guy a few rows in front of me apparently got so bored with it that he started reading a newspaper, holding the thing up in front of his face and anyone sitting behind him. I wanted to pull an Ignatz on him.
Fool Kat! This is "Art"! ZIIIPP!

mute nostril agony
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#27 Post by mute nostril agony » Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:02 pm

The ending totally slayed me, it's one of my favorite movie endings ever.

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#28 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Jul 01, 2005 4:25 am

blindside8zao wrote:Also, agreed about the hike in the beginning. The hike and the driving tend to stick in my mind much more than the floating scene.
One of the interesting things I've noticed in the opening walk is how precisely measured the pace is. It is slow but I always find it beautiful and it often holds my attention even when I am not in the mood for a slower film. In the linking shot between the field and the house there is that long shot of Kris walking across the screen and passing behind a group of bushes. If you look very closely you can just make out Donatis Banionis running through the bushes before walking casually out of the other side! This perhaps suggests how calculated the pace is and I guess this might be to give a sense of strangeness for the viewer when it seems strange that Kris appears on the other side so soon!

I don't really agree with many of the personal comments made on the commentary, when the relatively straightforward ending is twisted into a discussion of whether Kris ever left earth. But having said that I don't agree, I really like the commentary as the bits I don't agree with are personal comments and offered as personal speculation. It does give some other interpretations to consider, even if I didn't particularly agree with them!

I can't help but feel that filming at the World's Fair as the commentary suggests was the reason for going to Japan, but which was missed, would perhaps have been more disappointing as I'm thinking it could have been a 'rayguns and silver dresses with hoops on' approach. Instead the driving sequence shows that perhaps anything can be fantastical and exciting and it really depends on the way it is seen by the viewer. Is it silly to be excited by some footage of driving along a road, or is it a sign that an engaging story is more important than flashy visuals. I think there was a discussion on the Life Of Brian thread about whether it was a cheap production and therefore not particularly good, or whether on the other hand you could tell that the most had been made of the limitations experienced.

How surprising were the final moments of the road sequence, with the superimposed fast moving cars at the time? It is difficult for me to think of any other similar sequence until the images in Koyaanisqatsi sixteen years later, and they went on for most of the film!

EDIT (August 2006): I've just been listening to Peter Cowie's commentary on Tokyo Olympiad and at the beginning when he is talking about the preparation for the Olympics he mentions that the road system was updated for the games. So that suggests that, although they didn't get to the World's Fair, Tarkovsky at least got to film in what might have been at the time a relatively modern road system to compensate!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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#29 Post by King of Kong » Fri Jul 01, 2005 8:04 am

mute nostril agony wrote:The ending totally slayed me, it's one of my favorite movie endings ever.
At the end of Solaris, I always feel drained - as if just having woken from a dream. The film has this does have this trance-inducing effect. When I first saw Solaris in full, I often had to convince myself that the scenes/images towards the end of the film were actually on screen, and that I wasn't imagining them. There was one particular scene of this kind - Kris's "encounter" with his mother at the station - my memory is fuzzy, but I think she pours water into a bowl - having sat through close to 2.5 hours of the film already this one scene had something almost dreamlike about it.

Maybe this was Tarkovsky's intended effect.

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daniel p
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#30 Post by daniel p » Fri Nov 18, 2005 8:32 pm

Just a DVD related question, is there a booklet in this?

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glueman
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#31 Post by glueman » Fri Nov 18, 2005 8:39 pm

daniel p wrote:Just a DVD related question, is there a booklet in this?
There's a twelve 'page' fold-out with an essay by Phillip Lopate and three paragraphs by Kurosawa.

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#32 Post by solaris72 » Sat Nov 19, 2005 3:16 am

It also features an article by Akira Kurosawa, which can be read here.

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daniel p
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#33 Post by daniel p » Sat Nov 19, 2005 9:22 pm

Ok, thanks for the answers and links. I couldn't find any info on any booklet. At the moment, I'm basing my purchases (back catalogue) on booklets. Slowly pegging away at as many from the collection as I can.

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#34 Post by Narshty » Sun Nov 20, 2005 9:18 am

daniel p wrote:At the moment, I'm basing my purchases (back catalogue) on booklets..
What? Not even the movies?

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#35 Post by bunuelian » Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:58 am

If the DVD case contains a disc, it's clear that you're still on Earth. But if it doesn't contain a disc, then you can be confident that Solaris has you.

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#36 Post by godardslave » Sun Nov 20, 2005 4:16 pm

daniel p wrote:Ok, thanks for the answers and links. I couldn't find any info on any booklet. At the moment, I'm basing my purchases (back catalogue) on booklets. Slowly pegging away at as many from the collection as I can.
This really doesnt make any sense at all. Every criterion DVD has a booklet. i can only assume we are misintrepreting you.

or that our collective consciousness has entered the twilight zone (actually a fairly common feeling i experience when browsing the internet). :wink:

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#37 Post by daniel p » Sun Nov 20, 2005 6:47 pm

Yes, of course the movie comes first, but loving the booklets at the moment. Call me what you will...

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#38 Post by solaris72 » Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:32 pm

The cover of the Greek edition of Solaris (the novel):
Image

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reaky
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#39 Post by reaky » Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:52 pm

INT. DACHA. RAIN

"[Gasp]...Kris...[gasp]...I AM your wife."

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#40 Post by scalesojustice » Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:49 am

I checked this one out this past weekend. i have yet to connect with tarkovsky on a level other than i appreciate his excellent work. i have seen this and Rublev. While i am completely enthralled when watching his films, when the credits role, i feel something is missing. Perhaps it's the isolated loneliness that make his films go 'round. the idea that Kris is alone with his thoughts or Rublev is alone with his god gives me the cold shoulder so that i am alone with whichever tarkovsky film i'm watching. i'm not sure if i am explaining this right, but there is a hint of emptiness that seems to haunt the tarkovsky films i've seen so far, and that affects me more than his excellent themes of pursuit. So far, his work is intellectually interesting, yet emotionally absent.

I also didn't grasp the mix of black and white and color film. at first, i thought that it might be a way of differentiating between past and present, reality and non-reality (I suppose i'm a product of my time), but then i quickly realized that seems to pedestrian for tarkovsky. The only other reason i can see is that the choice to for color or black and white is arbitrary. there is no defining reason and it's what tarkovsky felt is "right." in art there is always room for arbitrary decisions. but the switch from black and white to color seemed distracting (at first, but then i didn't' even notice, perhaps that's the point.)

(spoilers): did anyone else think that Phillip Lopate's essay was crap. he says:
The hallucinated Hari II, fearing Kris does not love her, takes liquid oxygen and kills herself as well. By the time Hari III appears, Kris will do anything to redeem himself.

completely wrong. Hari II killed herself because she was wrestling with identity. Kris' love caused her humanization to be accelerated. she stuck around a while, started to gain experiences. the question is reality. can a ghost of imagination become a "human" through longevity and experience? could Hari pull away from Kris' memory to become an individual, Tarkovsky suggests not, hence the death.

speaking of ghosts:
The real power of the film comes from the anguish of Kris' reawakened love for Hari—his willingness to do anything to hold onto her, even knowing she isn't real. (Like Mizoguchi's Ugetsu, this is a story about falling in love with ghosts).

i haven't seen ugetsu, but it clearly isn't about falling in love with ghosts. it's about second chances, as fleeting or "unreal" as they are. it's about redemption and desire. although, it does bring to mind the question as to how close the guest Hari is to the actual Hari. is kris' memory of his wife rounded enough to bring to life an accurate guest, or is Hari (guest) too skewed by Kris' own perception that he loves the her that he created, not the her that was alive (as suggested by Tarkovsky when Kris suggests that he didn't love her).

the layers are being peeled away and, over time, i suspect i will like this film even more, but it still is empty in the sense that i'm not sure what to make of it's meaning. maybe once i come to terms with that, it will resonate a bit more. one thing is for certain, Tarkovsky presents the most difficult and challenging films i have ever seen.

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#41 Post by zedz » Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:44 pm

scalesojustice wrote:I also didn't grasp the mix of black and white and color film. at first, i thought that it might be a way of differentiating between past and present, reality and non-reality (I suppose i'm a product of my time), but then i quickly realized that seems to pedestrian for tarkovsky.
Most of his features combine black and white and colour, and Tarkovsky elsewhere uses private auteurist 'markers' or motifs that don't serve an obvious symbolic or narrative purpose (such as the inclusion of hot-air balloons in so many films, even when they did not yet exist or would have long been obsolete), but it's only really in Solaris that the distinction is so arbitrary and inscrutable. The closing burst of colour in Rublev is self-explanatory and demarcates historical projection from present-day remnants; in Mirror the two modes (and other visual manipulations such as slow-motion, non-naturalistic sound, use of found footage etc.) represent the shifting textures of Alexey's stream of consciousness; in Stalker he's directly referencing The Wizard of Oz. So generally, it's a functional distinction, not an arbitrary one (but I have dim memories from the diaries that Tarkovsky himself did not attach any significance to the distinction in Solaris).

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#42 Post by scalesojustice » Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:46 am

i'll have to look for that when i watch stalker later this week (if i can find the time to fit it in that soon). Rublev was apparent and justified. the change to color at the end of that film created a spiritual contrast and a commentary on film itself i suppose. though it maybe a stretch, the use of color at the end is so shocking and goregous that those simple moments of color make the bleak despair of soul search worth while.

the color changes in solaris do seem more jarring to me and i felt they were distracting mainly because the colors are so vivid with such depth, something i don't think the black and white does well enough.

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#43 Post by richast2 » Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:40 am

zedz wrote:in Stalker he's directly referencing The Wizard of Oz.
is this documented, or just a pet theory? 'cause man, I never got that but it makes so much sense...

also, every time I watch Solaris I try to figure out why he switches between b&w the way he does and I could never figure it out. I can't help but wondering if just calling it arbitrary or disorienting is a cop-out.

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#44 Post by scalesojustice » Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:45 am

richast2 wrote:also, every time I watch Solaris I try to figure out why he switches between b&w the way he does and I could never figure it out. I can't help but wondering if just calling it arbitrary or disorienting is a cop-out.
i wouldn't say coming up with the "arbitrary" conclusion is a cop-out. surely, within any art there is a degree of improvisation - choices are made because, to the artist, it feels right. And, while i understand the need for multiple viewings and time for a film's meaning to "sink-in," if an aesthetic is still seemingly arbitrary, then that's exactly what it is, at least to you (or us in this case).

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#45 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:45 pm

richast2 wrote:also, every time I watch Solaris I try to figure out why he switches between b&w the way he does and I could never figure it out. I can't help but wondering if just calling it arbitrary or disorienting is a cop-out.
Perhaps it can be both - the commentary says that as well as colour and black and white there were two types of black and white stock as well. It seems that Tarkovsky was just given the film and made up general rules to govern when it was used, but I don't think they were set in stone.

I think the reason why I like this film is because of the roughness of some parts. From the five minute driving scene, to the switches from black and white to colour etc, but there are also moments of such beauty that I can't forget, such as the scene where Kris falls asleep and Hari first appears or the camerawork of Berton's debriefing.

I don't know if this was because of my age, and seeing Solaris before 2001 and many other big special effect films but I remember seeing the film on a late night TV showing and when during Berton's debriefing they show the film he had taken I was enthralled. Looking at it now it is obvious it is clouds and paint in water effects but I really felt as if I was seeing another world. Again that could just be due to my being 11 or 12 and it being a film of many firsts to me - first foreign film, first time I stayed up late to see a film - but I like to think it is a sequence that shows how the power of presentation can affect how an audience sees something. I don't know about others but even now I strain to see through the clouds, and I think it is something psychological - the effect of that silent, image based sequence coming after the long descriptive scene. It builds up anticipation of seeing aliens and weird landscapes that (and this goes back to the point the commentators make about the tactics Tarkovsky employs for the whole film) frustrates our desires.

I want to see an alien landscape a la Star Trek but all we get is clouds and the swirling ocean. However isn't this more interesting in the end because we have all built up a picture of the surface of Solaris from Berton's description and to see some kind of cheesy sci-fi landscape would concretise and run the risk of disappointing our imaginations. Plus this ties into the main theme of Solaris - this is our first view of the ocean and we can see what we want - what's behind that cloud bank? Everything we can imagine.

I think this sequence and then the city of the future sequence (and then Kris's travel to Solaris?) are pushing the audience into taking the information on screen that is sketched in sci-fi coding (this is a planet, this is a futuristic city) and asking the audience to make the next leap themselves, to engage with the situation so much you create this futuristic world for yourself, more than rely on the filmmaker to create the world for you.

This is contrasted with the beauty of nature, presented obviously, no trickery needed. The opening couple of shots are so beautiful, and beautifully paced that they contrast well with the frenetic building rhythm of the city of the future. I like the way that at the end of the city of the future sequence, when the film cuts back to the country house you have the change from colour to black and white and at the end of the pan you see a car zooming past on the bridge behind the house - back to the safety of the city?

All these things can be put down to lack of funding, having to make do with what is available etc, and the film can be seen as Tarkovsky 'making do', and that is a valid response from a practical point of view. Artistically, however if you are engaged in the storytelling you can make many justifications for what happens in the film. For example I would suggest that the intensity of the rhythm of the driving scene, the fakeness of Kris's journey and the sterile nature of the debriefing (with the little notational beeps when a different person starts speaking) are by way of contrast to the natural world. Those scenes are also filmed in a more unexpected way, either the way the driving scene is edited or the way the camera suddenly pans or shows people walking in the background during the debriefing scene, or the unconventional way Kris is shown flying through space in a bubble! Yes, they're there to make exposition more interesting or to pad out the running time by showing lots of street scenes, but they could also be seen in contrast to the more conventionally filmed, slower nature scenes round the dacha - the drama there is the discussion between people and the beauty of the environment while the debriefing is pure dry intellect and the city scene is an oppresive environment (imagine if Kris came from the city - would that bustling metropolis have been created on Solaris? A nightmarish vision of our world on a distant planet?).

I love those scenes because I cannot imagine any other film having scenes as unorthodox, bizarre and compelling as those found in this film. Others may find that to be a good thing!

I think the same reasoning can be applied to the use of colour and black and white. There is the practical consideration of using what you have, but then there is the artistic use of these restrictions to create startling contrasts, expectations and other feelings in the audience.

I'm trying to remember how the film was laid out but I think it opens with the nature scenes in colour, showing the beauty of nature, the leaves drifting down the stream and the floating weeds, then that beautiful shot of Kris standing in the middle of what seems to be a wilderness. I think that shot is designed to be recalled when the housekeeper has her black and white scene of standing alone in nature.

So the dacha and the environment around it is introduced in bright colour - it is daytime and as the first block of the film comes to an end so does the day with the switch to black and white for the bonfire scene.

The first black and white scene though is the debriefing - my opinions on why this was used artistically in the film was probably to show the age of the footage or to show the television is black and white (since we see the housekeeper watching another programme in black and white before Berton calls on the videophone - he is also shown in black and white and this transitions into the city of the future sequence which also begins in black and white, but I'm getting ahead of myself. It does suggest that the television transmissions are just in black and white though), and to contrast both with the dacha scenes before and after as well as the reactions of Kris, Berton and the housekeeper watching the screen (chapter forward on your remote and notice that Criterion has begun each chapter with Berton's reaction to what is going on on the screen! It is like a mini summary of dismay being played out on his face!) and the colour footage of Berton's film.

So the film uses colour and black and white in blocks related to what came before and what comes after in order to create a startling contrast (Hari's first appearance is the best example), but in this block of the film you have the main characters in the present and in colour watching the past debate in black and white and within that the colour footage - a brief glimpse of a distant world. The brutal cut back to the man saying 'is that it?' plunges us back into that black and white, good and bad perjorative world of absolute truth, not flights of fancy and imagination that the audience may have watching that silent footage.

Then we have another colour scene in the nature surrounding the dacha, debate but not dry. It's passionate, people get angry and upset, have difficulty understanding one another and walk off. This contrasts with the scene of Berton on the video phone providing the last piece of information about his encounter with Solaris, the most important part that he obviously wanted to tell Kris in person but can only do in an impersonal manner, a message sent through technology, black and white - no discussion, just a fact about his experience. 'What you make of it is up to you, I'm finished!' is the implicit suggestion and then the black and white of the videophone is carried over to the city of the future.

Just as the city sequence is edited so as to become more and more intense so the shots of Berton and the boy in the car occur less frequently as the sequence goes on, and eventually they leave the film altogether as the city swallows them. During the last part of the sequence the film goes to colour - it happens as night falls and as it becomes more difficult to see the cars so the colour helps to point out the lights of the cars and the buildings. It becomes a city of light in that sense, an abstract image that would become popularised later in a film like Koyaanisqatsi.

The abruptness of the cut to the dacha is in both sound and back to black and white - it is becoming night there too but night without artificial illumination. The bonfire and the beautiful scene of the housekeeper in the landscape show how beautiful the Earth is and how Kris's last day on it has come to a close.

From the point Kris goes into space, the space station is mostly presented in colour, the ocean is always shown that way (I think this is used with the rumbling to show how the swirling ocean is sort of working its way into everyone's consiousness).

On the space station we have a similar introduction to Earth - everything is presented in colour until we reach Gibarian's message and again that television screen is presented in black and white. This actually makes an interesting contrast with the home movie footage, which is presented in colour - which suggests that the viewscreens can show colour images, although in artistic terms this is probably more because Tarkovsky wanted to show more images of Earth and nature and it was such an important sequence it needed to be in colour.

That is self explanatory but the next black and white sequence with its jarring shift to black and white as Kris's door clicks shut is the most bizarre. Is it there to suggest it is night, since Kris is about to go to sleep? It is obviously there artistically to make an amazing contrast to the huge close up of Hari, but perhaps also the black and white sequence is there to show Kris is still thinking in the black and white terms that so annoyed Berton and his father back on Earth. He has chatted to Snaut and Sartorious and seen the strange girl and probably decided they are mad and he might be going the same way - his response is logically to barricade himself in dealing with the situation as a threat rather than an opportunity at this point.

The rest of the film is in colour after Hari appears until we get to the hallucination scene which instead of going to black and white is shown in sepia tones. Perhaps this is another method of showing that in Kris's thinking everything is jumbled, so you have the mother in the dacha along with the viewscreen from the space station. Past and present (and future) can all exist in the mind, and I think this is why the sequence is presented differently from the others in the film. It is also preparing us for the way the ocean presents the dacha to Kris, with details gleaned from both his imperfect memories and perhaps his imagination of how he wants things to be with his father to create his island of memory.

The question is left open as to whether the ocean is more like some kind of experimental prison where Kris will be tested on how he reacts to and his relationship with the people in his memories, chosen because of the way he showed compassion and love for Hari, or whether the ocean is more of a facilitator, creating Hari because Kris's need for her at that time was the greatest, in which case Kris would have the power to manipulate and change his environment, create his perfect environment and companions through his own mental energy.

I think this raises all sorts of questions about how much of a role our mind has in freeing our potential or creating a prison for ourselves, how sometimes our perception of events can hurt others, prevent ourselves from fulfilling our dreams and leave us with regrets, was the real Hari's death caused by Kris's neglect or her own perception of his neglect pushing her into depression? This is suggested by the new Hari's depression despite assurances from Kris that he will stay with her, her awareness of her individuality after being so dependent on another perhaps triggering an awareness of the effect she has on others, and her need to leave Kris.

This is why I like Steven Soderbergh's remake as well. The original is so unique in its execution that it will always be my favourite, but the remake does go into the psychology in a deeper way (I don't know if this is because the remake can create characters in a more distanced way, while Tarkovsky's film is tied into relationships from his own life).

These are a few of my thoughts on this amazing, rough round the edges, but beautifully made and performed film. I'm not sure whether anyone else will find them useful or interesting though!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Nov 16, 2006 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#46 Post by scalesojustice » Wed Jul 26, 2006 6:24 pm

i enjoyed and appreaciated them. it's great to hear other thoughts on the film.

now that you mention it, i tend to like the "ocean" effect and other effects shot in the film, particularly the last shot, more than current c.g. creations. I hate c.g. and i think any practical effect rings more true that what a computer can generate. sure, it's clouds in a water effect, but it's based in tangible reality but placed in a fictional context, which lets our imagination run with it. it's something familar, yet different and i think, in that sense, it tends to be even more alien than something that is shiny c.g.

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#47 Post by tryavna » Wed Jul 26, 2006 7:05 pm

scalesojustice wrote:it's based in tangible reality
And therein lies what I consider to be the insurmountable difference (for now, at least) between current computer-generated special effects and the traditional kind. Computer generated effects just aren't tangible to me.

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#48 Post by zedz » Sat Jul 29, 2006 1:22 am

richast2 wrote: is this documented, or just a pet theory? 'cause man, I never got that but it makes so much sense...
Well it's documented in my thesis on the film, so both I guess. It's a weird connection, but there's a lot of evidence for it: the quest with its aim to make your wish come true, the journey from the outskirts to the centre of a strange land, the team of travellers identified by occupation / role, the dubious / ambiguous nature of the granted wish, the switch to colour and back. I even wonder if the dog was introduced to add to the comparison. It's also worth noting that almost all of those factors were added by Tarkovsky: Roadside Picnic has a completely different structure and focus.

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#49 Post by Greathinker » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:36 pm

I want to add that I saw this film late last night and don't think I ever understood Tarkovsky before now. I'd seen Rublev and Stalker but was impressed by them more on a formal level and can't say I felt a close connection to them.

But with this film Solaris, I can finally see a master at work, rendering scenes with such feeling that can't be explained. Having this kind of observation and being able to apply structure to it all is baffling me.

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#50 Post by Macintosh » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:11 pm

zedz wrote:
richast2 wrote: is this documented, or just a pet theory? 'cause man, I never got that but it makes so much sense...
Well it's documented in my thesis on the film, so both I guess. It's a weird connection, but there's a lot of evidence for it: the quest with its aim to make your wish come true, the journey from the outskirts to the centre of a strange land, the team of travellers identified by occupation / role, the dubious / ambiguous nature of the granted wish, the switch to colour and back. I even wonder if the dog was introduced to add to the comparison. It's also worth noting that almost all of those factors were added by Tarkovsky: Roadside Picnic has a completely different structure and focus.
so where can i find the script to Roadside Picnic? I would also be interested in reading this thesis of your's too.

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