Film As I sat down to write this, or rather endured in the several hours worth of writer's block which happened while I was cogitating on how to write this, I remembered that my first encounter with Andrei Tarkovsky was not as I'd assumed whilst flicking through the course booklet for the Falstaff & Gandalf Go To The Movies module of the MA Screen Studies course I attended at Manchester University but my third year housemate Ed while I was an undergraduate when he mentioned to me one evening while I was preparing dinner that he'd watched this film called Solaris that afternoon, which was one of his favourite films and was a bit like the Russian 2001: A Space Odyssey.
There are plenty of reasons why I mustn't have taken him up on his suggestion. Since this was the third year I would have been knee deep in my dissertation and various other essays and although I'd gulped many of my first breaths of international cinema in the first couple of years (see later) (probably this time next year at this rate) the idea of sitting down to watching a three hour Soviet space film would have been last the last thing on my mind. Plus unlike the second year when I didn't really like being in the same house as my housemates so spent a lot of time in the library watching videos, in the third year I rather liked them a lot. Plus I was just round the corner from the Hyde Park (see last week) so there wasn't much need for the VHS format which Solaris would have been on.
Since I do have writer's block:
Andrei Tarkovsky, Solaris and Stalker: The making of two inner-space odysseys
"Adding a frisson of autobiography, Tarkovsky initially planned to cast his ex-wife Irma Rausch as Hari. He then changed his mind, signing Swedish star Bibi Andersson, former collaborator of his directing idol Ingmar Bergman. But finally he settled on Natalya Bondarchuk, the beautiful Russian actor who had introduced him to Lem’s novel. Hari’s death scenes gained extra resonance in 2010 when Bondarchuk revealed she had an affair with Tarkovsky during the shoot, and attempted to kill herself after they split in 1972."
Auteur in Space:
"A new visual essay getting to the heart of Andrei Tarkovsky’s philosophical sci-fi masterpiece, Solaris (1972)."
One Scene: Solaris
"The first time I saw Solaris was on VHS in the mid-nineties. Even though the film affected me profoundly, I never watched it again until now. The richness of the images, the vividness of the mood, and the depth of the themes are so intense, they have simmered and lived in my mind for more than fifteen years just from that one viewing. Seeing it again, going from VHS to this new restoration, is truly a revelation. It's like owning a pristine 35 mm print."
In the Tarkovsky film "Solaris" what is the deal with the overly long highway scene through Tokyo?
"Do we "dream" when we get up in the mornings, only to return to the real world when we close our eyes and sleep at night, perhaps? Are our memories, residing within our minds and more directly personal and pure to us than incoming "new" interactions, more real than the world around us that we also experience strictly through interpretations of thing within our own minds? Can we perhaps be free to choose between the two, and what does the answer (be it yes or no) say about the human condition?"
Will Self and Mike Hodges on Solaris:
"Will Self and director Mike Hodges discuss Andrei Tarkovsky's film Solaris, based on Stanisław Lem novel."
Again, with 20% more existential grief.
"Steven Soderbergh: Well, I guess memory was an issue that I dealt with a couple of times before and this seemed to be a very interesting way of talking about memory - having a character that was a physical manifestation of someone's memory seemed like a very intriguing idea to me. And I wasn't at all of a mind that the Tarkovsky film could be improved upon; I thought there was a very different interpretation to be had. The analogy that I use was that the Lem book, which was full of so many ideas that you could probably make a handful of films from it, was the seed, and that Tarkovsky generated a sequoia and we were sort of trying to make a little bonsai. And that was really what we were doing - I took a very specific aspect of the book and tried to expand Rheya's character and bring her up to the level of Kelvin."