Solaris (2002)

“Though lovers be lost love shall not. And death shall have no dominion!” – Dylan Thomas

Solaris20th Century Fox in association with Lightstorm Entertainment present…

Solaris is a science fiction novel written by Stanislaw Lem and was first adapted in 1972 on the big screen by the late Director Andrey Tarkovsky. The Screenplay for the film gives us the whole nine yards from a psychological thriller standpoint as they centre its gravity on a love story while floating in the vacuum of space! The ghostly station Prometheus orbiting and exploring a new planet is in need of help to bring the people back home. The dilemma is this entity, this being draining out the subconscious aspect of the crew letting them see, interact, feel and speak with their eerie precedents playing with their psyche to fulfil their need which later turns into their worst fears!

The new take gives us the audience the chance to think thoroughly about what boundaries are being tested here to see how far each individual would go to let the people they love the reasons to move on with their lives. But sadly, it’s ironic for those who are meant for each other, I would not even think about losing my sanity while acknowledging the fact that my wife is already dead and the longing of her near and be alive again will be just absolute madness and illusory…

They’re back for more! Friends and former work mates from the blockbuster Ocean’s Trilogy,   George Clooney (The American) is Dr. Chris Kelvin a psychologist requested by his dear friend from a project gone wrong millions of miles away from Earth! He is tasked to oversee, investigate the phenomena that are unexplained even by the remaining survivors. George is a fan favourite what can I say! He’s articulate, smart and a versatile actor working with Soderbergh again is always a compliment, he played so many character driven roles but not in space not like this where his primary concern was to survive something that he doesn’t even know if it’s real or not!

The always classy Natascha McElhone (Ronin) plays Rheya the love of Dr. Kelvin was introduced to have passed away. Unbelievably mind numbing, my head keeps palpitating knowing that this is somewhat different or on another level gone awry and Dr. Kelvin does not realize what’s happening which makes it more interesting. Non-linear memories hit back and forth as the waves of energy surround the planet like synapses in our brain integrating so as the life and dreams he perceives recalling the memory of his wife. I can still feel my heart leapt seeing how she came to materialize out of nowhere. Is she a ghost? A figment of one’s imagination? We won’t know do we? Natascha gives a natural performance, a sight for the sore eyes! She’s like a child, curious, afraid, emotional and stubborn at the same time!

To coordinate key characters in the film was crucial since it only composed of a selected few to let them understand the complexity of their portrayal specifically in terms of interacting with the main protagonist as they were selected to weigh in with the intense dialogue and hit it spot on! Ulrich Tukur (The Lives of Others) is Dr. Gibarian who made a dull opening delivery in the film, it was half heartedly felt though simple was the terms of the intended message it didn’t sold me or made me felt its urgency!

Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan) is the enigmatic Dr. Snow. He on the other hand was way better, his approach was definitely unorthodox and even for a shrink, Dr. Kelvin was dumbfounded on how this first alive crew member was able to relay what happened to their comrade, he’ll blow you away later on. Viola Davis (The Help) plays Dr. Gordon one of the primary surveyors of the planet testing for its marketability to potential investors her mind has gone out of the park since she has been hallucinating as well!

Academy Award Winner Director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) has the ability to make films with intellectual impact for the audience to experience. His intention was to expand, not duplicate the previous film made three decades ago. Always calm and collected, willing to take other point of views to make shot after shot covering every element of the story whether through its technical aspect or performance intensive sequences have that genuine delivery. It’s one of the basics of filmmaking where you never get through with the finished product unless everything falls into place and set-up to convey the intent of the premise. Academy Award Winner James Cameron (Titanic) is backing him up, also a film heavy weight in his own right who now turns into a Producer for the film.

Digital Backlot’s Robert Stromberg and Cinesite’s Tom Smith collaborated on the Visual Effects with the help of Rhythm and Hues Studios creativity giving emphasis on the host planet’s lucid and wavelike aura to make it surreal. It still gives proclivities of being able to affect the ship and its crew as they made it very authentic looking seeing how in depth the pixelization rendered on the backgrounds was breathtaking! Some thoughts being thrown in where if it was a supernatural being, a phenomenon or was it simply just too much gravity stuck inside their heads coming from a long slow decay in the vastness of space!

Fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time! I love these type of films, it connotes the many aspects of life exploring other worlds, galaxies and stars to reach beyond what any man or woman would dream of to one day co-exist with other life forms. But there is a downside you see, we humans have the innate ability to be greedy and our hunger for knowledge had made us victims of our own predicament! We follow our inner calling to conquer and when we do, it is inevitable not confront or in a worst case scenario be confronted by beings beyond our power or comprehension!

The film was ambitious to take part into, it was something more indulging as we still strive to see the universe with any regard from being curious rather than being cautious! The premise was so wonderfully written and produced coming from the book which defines a bigger aspect of not just exploring of what is beyond our planet’s borders but the courage to face it…although, uncanny as it may be, the manifestations brought forth by the surviving crew is convoluting knowing they already have sealed their fate! I remembered watching Brian de Palma’s Mission to Mars (yawn!) and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (exceptional!) it had the same context of being objective centric not focusing on the input of space and its environments but tilting to the purpose on being there at the very precise moment of need!

There are still a lot of questions to be asked. Did Solaris become Dr. Kelvin’s new Earth? Did Dr. Kelvin and Rheya meet and they are in Heaven? Or is it another figment of his imagination while still being trapped in Prometheus? It had an open ended conclusion but it was worth the conundrum!



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