Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris is a visually hypnotic film that touches deeply on such highly moral themes as conscience, love and reconciliation.
The film begins with shots of a lake with seaweed swaying in the current. The camera then pans to show the audience a brooding psychologist, Dr. Chris Kelvin. He was going for an afternoon walk around his estranged father’s country house.
Kelvin wrote a highly influential report for the Solar Logistics Council in response to strange data from the three remaining astronauts aboard the orbiting space station: Dr. Snout, Dr. Sartorius, and Dr. Gibarian.
Dr. Kelvin was chosen to visit the crew to compile a report on their mental health and to draw up a recommended action plan for the agency as a whole. The day before his flight to the station, he is visited by a former cosmonaut, personal friend and colleague of his father – Burton. Years earlier, Burton had been sent on a search and rescue mission to retrieve a missing astronaut and had personally encountered the strange metamorphosis of the Solaris Ocean.
Despite Burton’s impassioned pleas not to stop exploring the unknown, Kelvin is unmoved. He believes that human emotions should not affect anything and plans not only to abandon the Solaris mission, but also irradiate the stormy ocean to destroy its inexplicable activity.
Upon arriving at the space station, Kelvin is greeted with an atmosphere of apathy, as well as the tragic news of Gibarian’s suicide. The recorded video message shows a frail, disheveled Gibaryan driven to despair by agonizing visions of the loss of a loved one and a deep sense of isolation. After a restless sleep, Calvin begins to realize what Burton was telling him while he was hallucinating. He sees his dead wife, Hari, who mysteriously appears at the station.
By setting artificial boundaries, we suppress the idea that thought is limitless – Dr. Messinger
In a similar vein to other Tarkovsky films, Solaris is a disturbing portrait of man’s unfair, often destructive interaction with his environment. Solaris mission principles have a biased theoretical filter that only accepts phenomena that can be logically explained or physically proven. Some scientists have hypothesized that the Solaris ocean is a thinking substance, a primordial brain capable of materializing thoughts. However, lacking concrete evidence, Burton’s opinion is met with skepticism and calls for an immediate end to the program. The mission’s researcher, Dr. Messinger, eventually succeeds in dissuading the Board from shutting down the project by exposing their innate fears, which lead them to set up artificial barriers to hide the Truth. He says that the strange phenomenon itself is a reason for further study of it, and not an excuse for retreat.
In fact, it is not technological advances that impede the achievement of truth, but the myopia of mankind.
The theme of self-created boundaries suggests that there are no real barriers to the search for Truth. Only the fear of the unknown makes us believe in the sanctity of forgetfulness. Hari’s appearance on the space station gives Calvin an instinctive fear that prevents him from dealing with the difficult issues surrounding her suicide. Like advice, Kelvin initially decides to abandon the mission and destroy what he cannot understand. However, after arriving at the space station, stumbling over the mysteries of Solaris, Kelvin realizes that this is a forced journey he is forced to take. In essence, by emitting X-rays onto the surface of the Solaris ocean, the team unwittingly crossed the threshold of artificial research boundaries, creating a point of no return.
Through irradiation, the astronauts have created a figurative brain probe deep within Solaris’ primordial mind that responds with a reflection of their own subconscious.
We are in a stupid position, humanity is striving for a goal that it fears – Dr. Snout
The idea of exploring boundaries as a natural evolution in search of Truth turns out to be a convenient distraction from personal regret and isolation. After Burton’s sudden departure, we see Calvin burning documents and photographs in his father’s backyard in an attempt to break away from his past. However, aboard a huge, isolated space station, he cannot escape the guilt of leaving his wife to let her kill herself. When Hari first appears, she is scared and helpless. Kelvin responds with denial and cruelty, unable to come to terms with his own emotional ambivalence about her return. When Hari appears the next evening, she is tenacious and magnetic. But this is Hari, who committed suicide. Or another new Hari? More importantly, if this is not the real Hari, is she an exact reflection of herself? Or, most likely, is she a projection of his own experiences regarding her?
When Kelvin briefly separates from Hari, she crashes into a metal door and cuts herself badly. Kelvin returns to tend to her, only to find that her deep wounds have already healed. He introduces her to the team, who already know that she is a physical manifestation of Kelvin’s subconscious, spawned by Solaris. Experiments have confirmed that biologically the guests are human, but are composed of neutrinos. stabilized by a local force field, and therefore Dr. Sartorius proposes an autopsy on her. However, despite overwhelming evidence, Kelvin disagrees with his conclusion, believing he has been given a second chance to reconcile with his wife and refuses to accept that she is not who she appears to be.
But it soon becomes apparent that Hari is indeed not his wife. She is devoid of personal memories and is defined solely by the memories of her husband, having no individual identity. However, if Hari is a subjective interpretation from fragments of Kelvin’s subconscious of the real Hari, then the question arises: is she an idealized version of his wife or a manifestation of his own fears? Is his attachment to Guest Hari a reflection of his own guilt in her death, or is it a yearning for intimacy that never happened during his difficult marriage to the real Hari?
I’m something completely different – Hari
The behavior of the crew in relation to the guests determines their professional qualities. physiologist Gibaryan – committed suicide, unable to reconcile the appearance of his beloved with his deep grief over her real physical death. Cybernetics expert Snaut appears rambling and insane, interacting with the Guests in unorthodox ways in an attempt to achieve the desired extraterrestrial Contact. He sees guests as a communication challenge rather than alien curiosity. Astrobiologist Sartorius, remained the least affected of the rest of the crew. Upon meeting the guests, He remained logical and impassive, perceiving them not as cognitive beings with whom He can interact, but as empirical, molecular puzzles. Their appearance on the station provides an inexhaustible supply of items for his research. Intrigued by their resilience, he views them as potential conduits to immortality.
Sartorius, who is contemptuous and dismissive of Hari, defines her existence as an interconnected collection of unstable neutrinos. However, if the essence of humanity lies beyond the physical component or common origin, then it must be in the attributes that separate a person from other living organisms. Such an attribute is the human soul. Besides, if the soul really defines a person, then its internal structure becomes an unimportant change. Reason and emotions are inalienable properties of the human soul, transcending the cultural and ideological boundaries created by society. Possessing rational thinking, compassion and conscience, Hari is in many ways more human than Sartorius. Her capacity for selfless sacrifice and unconditional love are manifestations of a real soul and therefore define her humanity. Even though she wasn’t originally human, she became one.
Solaris is a story of exploration beyond the human vessel, a journey to expand the territorial boundaries of man only to find the vast frontier of his own subconscious. In a society seeking to explore the furthest corners of the universe in search of truth, the Solaris ocean is the catalyst to explore the deepest regions of the human psyche. Inevitably, the truth proves to be as elusive as the thinly veiled reality of Solaris. Can a person really come to terms with their irretrievable past, or is he inexorably bound to feelings of guilt and regret?