Next were the two Solaris movies. They’re both based on the novel Solaris by Russian sci-fi author Stanislaw Lem. The Russian one is nearly impossible to pay attention to if you’re also trying to divide your attention.
Both movies deal with a man that must go to the planet Solaris (though in the 2002 adaptation, Solaris has been morphed to a star I do believe) to help council a crew (there for commercial purposes) through bizarre hallucinations involving someone dead from each hallucinator’s life. Both movies are virtually lockstep similar (with the Russian adaptation taking roughly 23.7 times longer to accomplish anything) with the ending being the only major deviation. The Russian ending has the message that humans are no good for space: we cause psychic planets to behave self destructively. For Americans, psychic planets are no good for humans and the psychic planets cause us to behave self destructively.
These movies actually do an amazing job of exploring the trauma of death: what it would be like to remember your own death, but then realize it’s not your own and how that would effect you. Y’known like how it frequently happens in the real world, which is to say not ever. But they’re still fantastic meditations on what it means to be real and how you know: where’s the line of the unreal, and does that line even matter? No one dies here, but death is confronted at every turn. Transcendence comes in the confrontation of intimidating and alien intelligences who, in their ignorance of what we are, harm us and themselves. Both are bleak, but somehow (when I’m not sick) this is very comforting. I can’t even begin to guess why this is. Part of it is the imagery: the 2002 Solaris is a gorgeous movie of rich colors and very design friendly sets.
In fact, space might be big, cold, lonely, and invite introspection, but at least there are beautiful things to look at.
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