Episode 25 – Solaris

Billy and Topher from We Watched a Thing get up bright and early in Australia to talk about the 1972 Andrei Tarkovsky masterpiece Solaris. We wax philosophical about time, space, memory and wedding hangovers. We also get into all of the obstacles Tarkovsky had to hurdle in order to create this film, and whether that’s what made him the groundbreaking artist he was. If you’re into Alex Garland’s new movie Annihilation, make sure to listen!


Boy, it sure would have been great to talk about this movie’s connection to Alex Garland’s Annihilation! However, it hadn’t been released yet in the U.S. when we recorded this, and I’m not sure we had any idea of the very clear inspiration Solaris had on the new film. Plus, it would have been bad form to bring it up to our Australian friends, who only just now got it on Netflix. My feelings on Annihilation were mixed and I’m still kind of grappling with them. I’ll make sure to update you all with a review after I get a chance to watch it again.

Thanks a TON to Billy and Topher for being on the show. Hopefully you can’t tell, but our connection was severed in the middle of recording several times, and once the power went out to their entire building! Luckily, they had enough batteries on hand and good enough cell reception to continue the recording, like professionals. Again, that podcast is We Watched a Thingand is well worth your time!

Want to play the unrelated Atari 2600 game Solaris? Here’s a link! Although you may need to read some instructions first

I tried a quick Google search to determine why Solaris is split into two parts. I was not able to figure that out. I did find that some versions for home release have the cut at different locations. Are you a Tarkovsky scholar? If so, please contact us and clue us in!

Adam had a great comment that he thought of after the recording in regards to Tarkovsky and his representation of works of art within his filmography:

“OK, having thought about it for a while, here’s my take on why classical paintings and music show up, despite Tarkovsky’s insistence that cinema is a separate art form: there’s a difference between making references and pointing out the past and creating new paintings and music within your film.  When you reference the past, as with the paintings and the Bach, you’re drawing a specific link to the past that the audience can reflect upon, because they presumably have already experienced these works and they can think about what those works mean to them and how they tie in with the themes Tarkovsky brings up.  New music, by contrast, doesn’t have that same association, and so that leads to a distraction from the visual art of cinema, because now you’re also experiencing a piece of music you’ve never heard before. Tarkovsky hated Fellini’s idea that each frame of film should be like a painting, perfectly composed, because that’s not what film is for — that’s what painting is for, and they’re not the same thing.”

Adam and I had a long argument about whether Kris Kelvin’s jacket in the beginning of the film is blue (Adam) or purple (Charlie). We think this may also have to do with remastering of the film, or screen calibrations, but I do think it is also perception related. Asking three other test subjects proved inconclusive. Is it because Russian has a larger range of words for the color blue, and the associated linguistic implications? Nope, but I thought that it was a fun idea! Adam, being a linguist, takes issue with that paper though. Ask him about it next time you see him!

Movies We Reference:

Stalker (1979)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Wit (2001)

Sphere (1998)

Under the Skin (2013)

The Fountain (2006)