About The Story
In crafting his screenplay for SOLARIS,
Soderbergh used material from the book, elements from the Tarkovsky film, and
many of his own ideas. He explains: "The biggest difference between this
incarnation of SOLARIS and the previous film and the novel is that our film
details the past relationship between Kelvin and his wife—what happened to
them on Earth years before. That's what I really wanted to get into. I felt if
you were going to explore this idea of whether or not you're doomed to play
out a relationship the same way every time with the same person, then you had to
see what happened to them before."
Soderbergh was uninterested in making a
standard science fiction epic with the requisite space battles, malevolent
aliens and roller coaster pacing. "This movie is not an action film and
people need to know that going in," states Cameron. "This is science
fiction the way science fiction used to be back in the fifties and sixties when
it was a fiction of ideas, a fiction of people.
"This film takes you to the
farthest reaches of the universe, and what you find there is yourself. Kelvin is
confronted with his own memory, a replay of the things he's gone through, his
guilt, his culpability, the mistakes that he made. And he gets the opportunity
to change it, or maybe not."
Kelvin's choices are inextricably
interwoven with his relationship with Rheya. In his novel, Stanislaw Lem
conceived the complex, passionate and troubling romance between Kelvin and Rheya,
which became the core of the new film. Indeed, Steven Soderbergh's SOLARIS is
a love story.
Says producer Jon Landau: "Steven's
film combines many different genres in a classic love story. Movies are
ultimately about themes and the theme of SOLARIS is having a second chance at
love. And when Kelvin is presented with that opportunity, he's forced to
challenge himself, to see if he's going to make the same decisions that he
made in the past."
"The theme of predestination is
crucial," adds Soderbergh. "Kelvin and Rheya's relationship had
ended very badly. When she appears on the Prometheus, they both struggle with
the idea of the relationship traveling the same path it did before. Those issues
of memory, guilt, potential redemption and the opportunity to do something again
and maybe do it differently, appealed to me. As one character says at a certain
point in the film, â€˜There are no answers, only choices.' And it really does
come down to that."
SOLARIS also presents a mystery, one
which brings Chris Kelvin to the space station orbiting the titular planet. The
company funding the exploration of Solaris has become concerned because the
scientists aboard the Prometheus are no longer communicating with Earth. They
don't know if they're dead, if they're injured, if they've all gone
crazy, or are under attack. Kelvin knows the mission commander, so he is sent to
solve the mystery.
"From the moment Kelvin enters the
space station, you know that there is great jeopardy there," says Cameron.
"You don't understand the nature of the danger right away. You think that
it could be anything -- there could be a monster there, a murderer. It turns out
the jeopardy is to one's sanity."
The planet itself is central to the
mystery. As Kelvin discovers, Solaris is much more than a celestial body
revolving around a sun; it is an organism with a powerful, near god-like
intelligence. While scientists are studying Solaris, it is studying them.
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