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Solaris (Soviet Union 1972) Case Study

Rob Miller | Wednesday October 01, 2014

Categories: A Level, EDUQAS A Level, EDUQAS A2, FM4, Section C: Single Film Critical Study, Analysis, Film Analysis, Films & Case Studies, World Cinema, Solaris (1972), Genres & Case Studies, Drama, Science Fiction, Hot Entries, Key Concepts, Audience, Film Language, Representation

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There are key areas of study that WJEC recommend are explored for FM4 Section C – Solaris, and they are as follows:

  • As a philosophical film about identity and memory

  • The role and function of Hari

  • The undemonstrative character of Kris and the reasons for this

  • Issues of representation in relation to conventions of the Sci-Fi genre

  • The significance of the earth sequences – including the emphasis on nature
  • The overall pace and length of the film

  • Spectatorship issues related to the above and to narrative development

  • The film as characteristic of Tarkovsky’s work
- Contexts of production

  • (Maybe: the challenge to the film by Soderbergh’s version)

With Solaris, a starting point is what the film is not, what it can be compared with and its status as a film text – Solaris is not 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick’s seminal 1968 film is more about evolution and the search for extra terrestrial life, reflections on the origins of the species with Kubrick himself encouraging audiences to explore their own interpretations. Solaris is a deeply philosophical film (‘2001’ can be interpreted that way) about identity and memory. While 2001 has much higher production values, with a key focus on technology and special effects Solaris is an independent art house film, made by an art house Director and about the human being, the human condition. To illustrate this in a trite, but useful way 2001 has HAL, a sentient computer that controls systems while Solaris has Hari – a pivotal character in the narrative through whom values and beliefs about life and death and the very nature of existence is channeled. There are of course inevitable comparisons - both films are set in space, both films borrow from science fiction literature, both films are at times eerily quiet, both films use classical music; Solaris Bach and 2001 Strauss but fundamentally they are very different texts.

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