I Live-Blogged Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris [1972]


1. I haven’t watched this movie in at least I think six years.

2. While I was setting up to watch the movie and write about it at the same time the menu screen of the film went on in a loop.

3. The length of the loop becomes clear in repetition when the male protagonist says, after what sounds like a little wave of ‘aural glass’ a word that sounds like the english word hi but since the film’s in Russian I assume it has to be something else.

4. I am kind of itchy and just rode the stationary bike for 700 calories and am drinking a grapefruit flavored La Croix. I am going to press play on the movie now.

5. I had to get up to press play on the movie because I lost the remote control for the DVD player several years ago or I think just the batteries died and then I set it aside.

6. The film starts with a slow roll of credits, with the small list of actors, then it says ‘IN THE FILM’ ‘Solaris’ though it says that in the titles below the Russian titles.

7. Seeing ‘IN THE FILM’ in English made me feel like I was about to get an introduction to the movie, like a prologue. I realized when that didn’t happen that I can’t remember much about this movie, though I count it among my favorites, even having only seen it once.

8. I watched it last time I think in this basement room I was living in that had no windows in it.

9. I remember just laying on the bed watching the movie without moving at all, seems like I was sick when I watched it but I know I wasn’t.

10. The opening shot after the titles is water over grass, kind of off-angle. I wish more movies started looking at things off-angle.

11. The dude is wearing a really beautiful blue leather coat.

12. “The dude” is the actor Donatas Banionis as “Kris Kelvin.” I like that name for a character. The mist he just walked out of into a grass field reminds me of coke machines for some reason. That seems bad.

13. It’s really quiet. My typing is really prominent in the sound. It makes me feel self-conscious. The mist is kind of arriving around the house. I remember already the scene that ends the movie, with the house in it again.

14. A horse just ran past and ran back the way it came. It was a ~3 second shot, and did more in the film already than most shots in most films.

15. The first line is, “Kris, come here!” Then Kris turned, and the shot moved to a couple of older men talking, and he is approaching in the background. I want to go on a walk soon.

16. One of the old men said, “I don’t like innovation.” Then it started raining.

17. The rain kind of looks obviously like someone has a machine above the camera pouring the rain down. It looks fake. I like that the rain could be obviously fake, and now it is raining into a coffee cup briefly. Coffee.

18. The rain lasted less than one minute. I feel like my laptop is really heavy without being heavy, like it’s making me sink into the sofa, which is probably because I’m trying to concentrate and also type.

19. Tarkovsky was 40 when this film debuted at Cannes.

20. The people in color are watching a transmission in black and white of an astronaut describing a strange experience in space. The people in the transmission then watch a film inside the black and white that is in color of a body of water covered in mist, made to resemble a moonlike surface. The film inside the transmission inside the film ends with what looks like magma.

21. Clouds. There are some nacho chips in my food area. I am trying to put off getting up to get them, though I am hungry. The people are mad the film of the outer space is just of “clouds.”

22. Russian sounds more interesting to speak than English. I feel like if I could take out my English chip and replace it with a Russian chip I would do that.

23. Can’t really remember watching the American remake of this movie but remember fastforwarding at least the last hour of it, but not just turning it off or something.

24. As soon as I wrote that I wasn’t going to eat the chips I got up and went and got the chips and am eating them now. They are still having the meeting in the film.

25. They are arguing about whether the astronaut hallucinated the visions of the planet and the mist, and whether or not giving up on the idea of them as hallucinations would limit all knowledge.

26. I feel like many things that happen now in the world are simply just absorbed. Even objects of awe are simply referred to with awe and then they just go past. I don’t know how much I feel alien from that method.

27. When I was a kid I thought I really wanted to be an astronaut. I never did anything to try to be one.

28. Well, I talked about going to Space Camp, and I bought space ice cream when we visited places that had it. I drew outer space on a grid once and my mom made it into a quilt.

29. “You and your rooms can wait!” the man in some suspenders and a powder blue shirt told a woman.

30. He returned to a shot of the horse in a small room looking head on into the camera and making noise. Now then woman who said the thing about the rooms walked with a child toward it and called in beautiful, then he returned to just the horse there.

31. “I don’t have the right to make decisions based on impulses of the heart,” Kelvin said. His stomach and chest look dented, like he’s been trying to work out but is still chunky in his spirit.

32. He is sitting next to a building that is blue like his blue, but kind of lathered over with a white that eats the house up, like it could collapse.

33. I wish I could live in the other house, the bigger house.

34. They are arguing about whether or not he should go into space. We already know he goes into space. If he didn’t there wouldn’t be a movie. What if he just decided not to, then the movie ended. What if that happened now, though I have seen the version where he goes to space? What would I do tomorrow then

35. A lot happens in every frame of this film, every shot. It is remembered as a very slow movie but it seems very fast. We are already 33 minutes in. I realized I haven’t been itchy since this started.

36. Now is the famous shot of going along the street from the view of the windshield, through tunnels. I like that there is no music, but just road sound. It switches between white and color again. I like the color better in the film but I also like that sometimes it is gone because it reminds me what the color feels like in the rest.

37. I feel interested in reading an essay connecting all tunnels in all films to the same terrain, a conduit location.

38. I wonder if my neighbor is annoyed by how loud my TV gets sometimes. I like the film loud even though the subtitles are necessary. My neighbor hates me, she pretends I am not there and sometimes when she is letting her dog shit outside she will go inside the house and stick her arm out through the door so the dog can keep shitting and she won’t have to see me. We’ve never talked.

39. Kelvin is burning all his papers of research and notes on the lawn. It is in black and white again. Smoke and mist is all over everything in here. I have always fantasized about writing a story where a guy waits for a night of mist then goes and parks his car on the highway and waits, but I’ve never written it and probably won’t.

40. It seems too obvious to say how nice the way the camera moves in the film is, but the motion from shot to shot and overall now so far feels as if I have been actually physically moved.

41. The horse and the man just crossed paths, alone, going in different directions.

42. The last shot of Kelvin, after the horse, before we transition into space, taken with my phone:

43. The mouth into the ship is very orange. I like the cut of the orange with the silver of the corridors and the red that banks around the panels in the long shot of Kelvin walking into the ship.

44. Kelvin has on a sweet yellow shirt that looks studded with rubbery balls, like he’d want you to rub on him.

45. I am not drinking while doing this. It is the job of films like this to get you drunker than drunk is. Plus last night I drank too much and ate the new steak roll up flatbread thing, which tasted like a glorified Hot Pocket.

46. Orange coat on the first man Kelvin runs into on the ship, who also has an orange mark on his face. He says that one of the other men has committed suicide.

47. A case of butterflies on the wall is crooked with a glare of yellow light from a bulb behind where the camera would be. I like to think certain films were not filmed but just happened.

48. Dude in the orange coat looks like Klaus Kinski with a bald spot and way more chill.

49. The film was shot from March to December of 1971. Wikipedia says, the Russian “State Committee for Cinematography authorised the cinematic realisation of Solaris, with a length of 4,000 metres (13,123 ft), equivalent to two-hour-twenty-minute running time.” Seems impossible to imagine a government paying for a film like this, seems like America should feel stupid.

50. Just realized I’ve already eaten like 1/3rd of the salsa I got to go with these chips.

51. Kelvin is watching a film of, I think, the guy who killed himself explaining that he is going to tell Kelvin about the nature of the craft so that he will know it is real when it happens to him.

52. The camera rolled into an odd black eye. Kelvin seems to feel he is being watched by something odd. He picked up a gun.

53. I wish I had a gun to sit on my coffee table sometimes. It’s probably good I don’t have one.

54. I was told last night that two weeks ago I tried to throw myself into a bonfire after having drank too much sake moonshine. In all the pictures from that night I am smiling a lot.

55. Now a much larger black eye like the small eye the camera had moved into. Kelvin is up near it looking in, and then the camera goes into it, then back out.

56. Blue, white, orange, black, yellow, red. No music.

57. “Is space really such a bad grave for him?” says a man who looks vaguely like John Malkovich, having emerged from what seems like a small shower stall.

58. It is revealed the Malkovich guy was in the stall with a midget in a smock. I put the salsa back in the fridge. I feel cold.

59. Cut to shot of pocket that looks like a coffee lake with semen glaze surrounded by nipple flesh. Then the first shot of the main woman in the film walking past in a neon blue nightie.

60. She walks faster than the camera can keep up. The camera keeps moving away from her into little pockets in the shuttle.

61. The woman is Natalya Bondarchuk, playing the role “Hari.” Apparently Tarkosvky had originally planned or wanted to have his ex-wife play the role. I feel older reading that.

62. The cold begins in your feet and then maybe your hands and then moves toward the center of the body.

63. The first shot of the film in black and white since we entered the ship is Kelvin moving large metal boxes to block himself inside a room where he will sleep. I realize he looks older too in black and white.

64. The camera lingers for a decent while on Kelvin trying to fall asleep.

65. My laptop is on my lap below the screen which is roughly six feet away from me, so I am often looking back and forth between two rectangles.

66. The close up on the woman’s face, who we will learn soon is Kelvin’s suicided wife, is mostly orange, as is her dress we find her body.

67. “Where did you?” is the first thing Kelvin says to the image of his wife when she appears. She answers, “It’s so nice.”

68. When I exercised tonight the power in the gym was all out except for a panel in the center of the ceiling. The machines all worked. I sat in the dark and read The End of the Story by Lydia Davis. I have always quit in the middle of reading that novel, for no real reason, though I will finish it this time.

69. Hari asks Kelvin to undo the back of her dress, which is stitched closed with a string through big eyelets. He sees she is bruised. He cuts the dress.

70. While I was in the dark a woman came in and got on a machine near me and worked out in silence.

71. “Why are you looking at me like that?” Hari asks Kelvin.

72. It’s part two of the movie now.

73. The noise of the space ship taking off was literally so loud it made my connection from TV to DVD player cut out and make a little net of interference. Orange fire on Kelvin. Orange sea outside the ship.

74. Feel surprised my laptop battery hasn’t died yet. Briefly wondered if I could power my laptop with these nacho chips if I put them in in the right way in the right hole.

75. A space that makes the past rise up and interact with the present presently. Here the space is located far from actual humans.

76. The Kinski looking guy said something about night in space reminding him of earth.

77. Shot of Kelvin asleep in his bed is extremely orange all over. The camera moves from a general framing shot into a close pan along the bed up to his face, and when it gets close he wakes up.

78. Second appearance of the suicided wife in orange.

79. When trying to sleep is when Kelvin hits the field of the space crashing past and present.

80. Thought, “Seems like Hari is a bitch,” while trying not to think that, simultaneously.

81. Realized the colors in my apartment are a lot similar to the colors in the film. Got up and put some socks on so I can be less cold. Put the chips away too so I won’t grow anymore.

82. Idly wondered if Taco Bell is open without intent or even desire of eating Taco Bell while also knowing that Taco Bell is definitely open.

83. A hall full of huge circles spanning white light from outside the ship. “I burned the blood with acid, but it’s restoring itself.”

84. I used to sometimes wish I could have all the emails from the forthcoming year all at once and read them immediately so I could know what was going to happen and what I would say when it happened. I think now I wish whatever the semantic opposite of that is, which I’m unsure how to parse.

85. Wondered if Tarkovsky ever got to try Taco Bell, if he would have felt “above it,” or would have really loved the Meximelt, which is my favorite, and my friend last night referred to as “a deep cut.”

86. Shot of child kneeling in snow like the white of the light beyond the ship pans to shot of the suicided wife when she was not suicided. (I think that is the wife.)

87. I love the deep focus of fields and landscape in Tarkovsky, seems like somehow he captures an area that is larger sometimes than the camera should be able to contain.

88. Sweet crocheted pink and white dress on the younger version of the suicide wife I think.

89. A bit of music. Organs. Sounds like church. Woman looking at camera and almost smiling. Definitely is the wife. Music ends as memory sequence ends and Kelvin is with the suicide wife on the bed in color.

90. The shot that is on the Criterion box from the version I have is happening now in the film. I have to immediately think of it on the box now instead of really seeing it right. In the mirror Hari says, “When I close my eyes, I can’t recall my face.”

91. Feel, like, extremely sober, actually. This film is pretty much the exact opposite of sexy. I like that. I’d like to delete sex from a lot of movies. So many movies then would simply have to stop existing because they are founded entirely on the sex.

92. Because they are in the weirdly bright chambers you can’t tell at all between night and day.

93. They are talking about using radiation to help keep the hallucinations from seeming real. I was looking at the computer for like ~4 solid minutes without really looking at the film.

94. Realized a lot of days I look at my life the same way I am looking at the film now, interspersed frequently with another screen. A pale blue sheet over the sleeping Hari.

95. Felt briefly like apologizing to no one in particular for nothing in particular.

96. I like that the woman is not “gorgeous” but is moderately good looking. She is telling Kelvin that he doesn’t love her, that she is dead because she poisoned herself, and this image of her is someone else.

97. Got up and went to eat a chicken finger and thought, “I am glad I eating chicken right now because I don’t know what I would have to say about what is happening right now,” which is they are having a long talk about their relationship.

98. The suicided woman said, “I don’t know how to sleep. It’s not sleep. It’s somehow around me. It’s as if it weren’t inside me, but much further away.”

99. My laptop just said to connect it to some power or it will die.

100. The green in this room of a memory when they were alive on earth reminds me of… nothing.

101. Thought, “What the f-ck am I doing?”

102. “Mankind has lost the ability to sleep,” a guy in the memory is telling Kelvin and Hari. There are four candles in the bottom left corner of the shot against the green.

103. “We have no interest in conquering any cosmos,” the Kinski man says about his people, criticizing them. “We need a mirror.”

104. Suddenly seems strange if obvious to think about how many mirrors there are in literally every house. I wonder how many people are masturbating in front of them right now, while I’m watching this. I wonder why I wondered that.

105. The man called the suicided woman a copy, a matrix. Suddenly wishing my house was located in a very large copying machine. She said, “I can feel just as deeply as you.”

106. Each time I come back to thinking about being cold I feel colder than the last time I thought about it.

107. Seems strange that Tarkovsky was standing in each of these rooms while they shot this. Seems like I want him to step out into the shot sometime and just be standing there. Seems like he’s dead in the instant of them filming if he never does that, even though to do that would ruin the continuity of the film.

108. Kelvin says he has left Hari alone in the library, where the books are. I like that she is stuck in there with the books. I’ve been wanting to take pages out of books lately and insert them into other ones and make it be that that page was always in that one, and never in the other.

109. The camera is moving over a painting of a town under snow. The people are caught in it. There is a bird flying and not moving. We are watching a film of a painting with people who are always in the same instant and the film’s instants keep moving and our instants keep moving around the film and around that

110. The people in the painting seem like they are going in search of something to kill, though they could just as easily be walking home to kiss their loved ones and relax.

111. If I were in a space station by myself with apparitions I’d definitely I think take my clothes off. A close up of a chandelier.

112. Everything is floating now. But we go back to the painting. But we go back to the couple one of whom is dead and one of whom is hallucinating. But we go back to the painting. But we go back to the couple. That nothing green. Fire on snow. Purple coagulating milky land.

113. The image of the woman has killed herself again by drinking liquid oxygen.

114. Sudden intense feelings of not doing this anymore, closing the computer, turning off the movie, going back to the lights out gym and lifting so many weights.

115. The first nudity in the film is a nipple through the pale blue nighty of the suicided woman having suicided again. Her nipples are hard. It’s still not sexy. She has blood all over her mouth. Spasms. Is alive again. He brings her a different kind of blue coat.

116. “Is it me?”

117. New shot of the outside planet reminds me of Orange Crush going into a hole in a cymbal.

118. Tried to count to 3 and heard myself think, “1, 2, 4.”

119. Seems like if I type anything else including this I’m going to drown in something dry.

120. “Shame — the feeling that will save mankind,” Kelvin says while walking down the corridor into the weird lightglints helped on his left by a man and on his right by the suicided.

121. Sudden feeling of wanting to take everything out of my apartment item by item and place it outside and bring everything outside in.

122. Memory of his mother in black and white thumbing through a book, pouring water on where he’s been bleeding.

123. Watched 10 minutes of film without any thinking. Realized I was bleeding from a small place on my neck.

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