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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 10:45 am 
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I think it would have benefitted from a second disc for the supplements, leaving the film to breathe on its own disc (I still doubt it would have been great, though.)
mfunk9786 wrote:
How many viewings of this film did it take before you saw something essential in it? Because I'm having a crisis over whether or not to pick up the Blu-ray... as much as I'd like to be enlightened, I can't help but find it all so boring.

I saw it originally on VHS and didn't care for it much then. I wasn't familiar with the book at all so I had no idea what it was about (and still haven't read it--for whatever reason I can't read sci-fi) and I thought the story was "neat" but I admittedly found it long, drawn out, and "boring". I almost flipped during that Tokyo sequence (which I still skip admittedly and it's the only film I can think of where I do that.)

I ended up falling in love with Stalker, which was the next Tarkovsky movie I ventured to, and eventually came back to Solaris and I think something must have clicked after that film because I found I enjoyed Solaris so much more, as well as some of Tarkovsky's other films. I think it's really just a matter of getting into the groove of his films, so to speak. I do find Solaris quite entertaining now (well, after the opening and after making my little edit). Oddly I also find it moves faster than Soderbergh's 90-minute version.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 10:53 am 
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Mr Sausage wrote:
I don't understand what you're trying to get across.
Sorry about the rambling and ramshackle nature of my posts last night. Didn't expect to have to exert that level of intelligence and should have waited until now. Anyways, while I'm sure the elements you brought about are present for a fun enough exercise I think that's just the natural fallout of the things that Tarkovsky is trying to examine using the limited story he was adapting. When he took this structure (which is about things that are unknowable if I understand what the original book is about not having read it) and applied his ideas of loss, isolation, and love to them you get the supposed ambiguities (though I see them as more complexities, but that might have to do with my own philosophical bias on these matters) you see. My point is (before I go back to a rambling mess) is that Tarkovsky seems to have no interest in exploring the elements you bring up so while the film may contain them it is not about them.

On the other hand I seem to be alone in finding the movie able to be just fun when I need just fun. As much as it seems there for no reason I do get non-intellectual pleasure from the Tokyo sequence for instance.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 11:22 am 
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knives, how long has it taken you to write all of these posts? Couldn't you have rewatched the film in that time? :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 11:24 am 
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I can't not because of time, but rather lack of a player (old one recently went kaputsy and am having trouble finding and affording a better one).


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 11:26 am 
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aox wrote:
Is the book worth reading? (Note: I only speak English)

Will it help one understand the Tarkovsky film more clearly?
All I can say is that while I enjoyed most of the Lem books translated directly from the Polish originals, I found Solaris a bit of a slog -- the language was very clunky (and not like the expression found in better-translated Lem works).


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 12:53 pm 
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rrenault wrote:
Since when has it become a truism that Solaris is one of his inferior works? Just because a few scholars hold such an opinion doesn't make it the gospel. Roger, my point is everything you just wrote is merely an opinion on why you think it's a weak film. It's not fact, so I would just appreciate it if people could start out their posts by saying, "I think it's one of his weaker efforts, because..." That's all. In either case, this is the first time I've ever seen Solaris referred to in this light, as being one of Tarkovsky's weaker films, not that it means anything.

Well, I was only stating my opinion: "...(I) consider it one of his less impressive efforts for the same reason the scholars note in the commentary...". I didn't reach that opinion because I was persuaded by what Vida Johnson and Graham Petrie said in their commentary; I simply agreed with it. I also wasn't trying to create a new "truism". From what I can tell, SOLARIS is often heralded as one of the best, if not the best film Tarkovsky made. It's certainly the most widely-known of his work. You're also claiming that I think it's a "weak" film which I don't. I quite like SOLARIS. It has a wonderful dream-like vibe to it, superb performances and many excellent scenes. But, for me, the film is less impressive than:

IVAN'S CHILDHOOD
ANDREI RUBLEV
MIRROR
STALKER

With SOLARIS, I think the plot mechanics get in the way of the more poetic aspects that Tarkovsky handles so well. His other films don't really have this issue, but SOLARIS has enough strengths that I would still place it above NOSTALGHIA and THE SACRIFICE (and his early shorts) in his canon. I hope this has clarified my position.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 1:27 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
aox wrote:
Is the book worth reading? (Note: I only speak English)

Will it help one understand the Tarkovsky film more clearly?
All I can say is that while I enjoyed most of the Lem books translated directly from the Polish originals, I found Solaris a bit of a slog -- the language was very clunky (and not like the expression found in better-translated Lem works).

Lem's estate announced on their website that a direct translation will finally be published later this year (albeit in ebook and audiobook form only).


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 1:51 pm 
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solaris72 wrote:
Lem's estate announced on their website that a direct translation will finally be published later this year (albeit in ebook and audiobook form only).

Link to news.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 2:04 pm 
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solaris72 wrote:
Michael Kerpan wrote:
aox wrote:
Is the book worth reading? (Note: I only speak English)

Will it help one understand the Tarkovsky film more clearly?
All I can say is that while I enjoyed most of the Lem books translated directly from the Polish originals, I found Solaris a bit of a slog -- the language was very clunky (and not like the expression found in better-translated Lem works).

Lem's estate announced on their website that a direct translation will finally be published later this year (albeit in ebook and audiobook form only).


thanks! I almost ordered the old translation on Amazon. whew!


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 2:26 pm 
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knives wrote:
My point is (before I go back to a rambling mess) is that Tarkovsky seems to have no interest in exploring the elements you bring up so while the film may contain them it is not about them.

Tarkovsky has no interest in exploring the elements of love, memory, and reality? How can you say that when it's evident you have no idea what the movie is actually exploring. So far you've accused it of sharing Metropolis' dumb platitudes, then you hastily agree it's a complex of interrelated ideas, and then you go back to the platitude, and then when pressed further admit you have no definite idea about anything because it's been too long since you've watched the movie. The reason why what you've written is so confusing is because you frankly don't know what you're on about. The moment you admitted that you haven't watched the movie recently enough to remember specifics is when you should have excused yourself from the conversation.

Also, I don't think you fully understand what the word ambiguity means. Ambiguity is not vagueness. Ambiguity is when two or more competing ideas, claims, outcomes, or interpretations are present and cannot be fully resolved.

Nabob of Nowhere wrote:
Sausage you are Donald Rumsfeld aka Kolley Kibber and I claim the prize.

Um, what?

Your paraphrase is incorrect. Nothing I wrote was about "unknown unknowns" because who cares. All I want to know is how knives is so sure the philosophical and emotional questions raised are not impossible to answer, since certain questions are impossible to to answer (such as certain unresolvable paradoxes), since other issues admit of competing answers, and because it seems like he hasn't seen the film since it came out in the 70's.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 3:08 pm 
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Mr Sausage wrote:
knives wrote:
My point is (before I go back to a rambling mess) is that Tarkovsky seems to have no interest in exploring the elements you bring up so while the film may contain them it is not about them.

Tarkovsky has no interest in exploring the elements of love, memory, and reality? How can you say that when it's evident you have no idea what the movie is actually exploring. So far you've accused it of sharing Metropolis' dumb platitudes, then you hastily agree it's a complex of interrelated ideas, and then you go back to the platitude, and then when pressed further admit you have no definite idea about anything because it's been too long since you've watched the movie. The reason why what you've written is so confusing is because you frankly don't know what you're on about. The moment you admitted that you haven't watched the movie recently enough to remember specifics is when you should have excused yourself from the conversation.

Also, I don't think you fully understand what the word ambiguity means. Ambiguity is not vagueness. Ambiguity is when two or more competing ideas, claims, outcomes, or interpretations are present and cannot be fully resolved.
Firstly I never accused the statements of being platitudes or even dumb. That is putting words in my mouth. I said throughout that the presentation was goofy. I think I also used a few synonyms of that just so it doesn't appear I'm telling half truths. I can find the presentation of something to ultimately be a member of the absurd or rather silly as the case has it while finding the thing being presented as complex and of interest. The things the film brings up are probably worth exploring, but the heart of the story that these themes are tied to is corny to me at least (I would not argue with someone who found it touching, sweet, or anything similar).

What I meant though by the quoted statement (which you seem to be intentionally obfuscating) was that he does not explore the nature of these things. Rather it appears to me that he is looking at how these elements aid people in their lives. Within the complete isolation of space from emotion people become shells at best. An overly literal (while I admit at the same time somewhat sweet) example of that with regards to memory and maybe interaction within the film is the rustling paper over the vent. That's not really exploring memory, but using it as a tool to keep one's humanity. I think he's interested in the preservation instinct of these things to rephrase it once again. With that there is resolution to the ideas of the movie. The ending to the film all but states in writing that Kris is a stronger man psychologically if nothing else because he was able to fall in love with Hari (or at least a representation of her; he ultimately disregards the difference for his own well being). If that's not a fully formed conclusion than I don't know what is.

As an aside I do find it odd that you're the one bringing up this argument considering how you continually state elsewhere that a film can not examine anything without becoming an essay, but for the film to do what you say it does it would have to speak on those subjects in some manner. A rather interesting contradiction here.

Mr Sausage wrote:
because it seems like he hasn't seen the film since it same out in the 70's.
I would like to mention I saw it as recently as three months ago for the record.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 4:36 pm 
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This is really beginning to bore me. All of my favourite parts of the movie are the parts without dialogue: the magical moment where Kelvin and Hari hold each other while floating above the floor; the aching camera movements over the paintings; Hari's rebirth after her suicide attempt; her distant, unquiet looks; the abnormal placidity of nature in the final scene. The complex moods and emotions of Tarkovsky's works are far more interesting to me than the (admittedly complicated) philosophical and moral questions he usually includes, so I'm kind of annoyed to find myself in an argument about something that is not my prime interest.

knives wrote:
Firstly I never accused the statements of being platitudes or even dumb. That is putting words in my mouth.

I know. That's my description of Metropolis' whatever.

knives wrote:
What I meant though by the quoted statement (which you seem to be intentionally obfuscating) was that he does not explore the nature of these things. Rather it appears to me that he is looking at how these elements aid people in their lives.

Ok, so he's looking at how love, memory, and reality help people, but without exploring the nature of these things? Even tho' that is impossible to do since the question of "how" is, by definition, a question of something's nature?

You don't seem to have a precise idea of what you're actually claiming, which isn't helped by the fact that your word choices are vague.

knives wrote:
As an aside I do find it odd that you're the one bringing up this argument considering how you continually state elsewhere that a film can not examine anything without becoming an essay, but for the film to do what you say it does it would have to speak on those subjects in some manner. A rather interesting contradiction here.

You seem to be addicted to imprecision. What I actually said: "In discursive language, you talk about things; in imaginative language, such as underlies paintings, music, and of course film, you do not talk talk about things, you make things and those things are what they are. In the case of a film or a novel, you can talk about the things you've made if you want, but this is not necessary to your form." Unsurprisingly, given that its characters are scientists and academics, the movie has them discuss the issues of their predicament. It also works through it ideas and emotions in ways which are not discursive; imaginative language is capable of that, too.

knives wrote:
I can find the presentation of something to ultimately be a member of the absurd or rather silly as the case has it while finding the thing being presented as complex and of interest.

Except you aren't articulating what is absurd or silly about them, you're just making verbal reductions of the film's actual contents as a way of generating that absurdity yourself.

It does not seem to have occurred to you that the film is using Kelvin's predicament as a way to explore larger concerns. This movie isn't just about one man's attempt to use love as a tool anymore than K. Kurosawa's Bright Future is just about one kid's attempt to return jellyfish to the wild.

knives wrote:
That's not really exploring memory, but using it as a tool to keep one's humanity.

How are you making these things mutually exclusive? Do you even know what you mean by the term "exploring?" Have you given it some meaning I'm not aware of? Tarkovsky is concerned with the value and the use of memory, but he's not "exploring" the concept? What? I'm not sure you're really thinking through the things that you're saying. Your disagreements seem more kneejerk than considered.

knives wrote:
The ending to the film all but states in writing that Kris is a stronger man psychologically if nothing else because he was able to fall in love with Hari (or at least a representation of her; he ultimately disregards the difference for his own well being). If that's not a fully formed conclusion than I don't know what is.

It's the conclusion to his dramatic arc. It is extremely debatable whether or not the movie--not the characters, but the movie--has actually resolved the problems and paradoxes it has raised. If the movie makes explicit what Kelvin's choices and conclusions are, that is something different from unambiguously recommending them.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 4:54 pm 
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Mr Sausage wrote:
This is really beginning to bore me. All of my favourite parts of the movie are the parts without dialogue: the magical moment where Kelvin and Hari hold each other while floating above the floor; the aching camera movements over the paintings; Hari's rebirth after her suicide attempt; her distant, unquiet looks; the abnormal placidity of nature in the final scene. The complex moods and emotions of Tarkovsky's works are far more interesting to me than the (admittedly complicated) philosophical and moral questions he usually includes, so I'm kind of annoyed to find myself in an argument about something that is not my prime interest.
I agree with you there which has made this argument frustrating for me also. Probably part of the reason I am not concise is that I've never really bothered to examine these parts of the movie because they are a part of something I frankly don't care about with the more raw material being where I derive my entertainment. Since this thing is so circular because of either my inability to communicate, your unwillingness to understand, or more likely some combination of both I likewise would like to end this on mutual terms (though your constant insulting of me isn't beneficial either).


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 4:56 am 

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Solaris has a friend...
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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 5:40 am 
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Roger Ryan wrote:
From what I can tell, SOLARIS is often heralded as one of the best, if not the best film Tarkovsky made.

Not by Tarkovsky himself, who frequently said that it was his worst film by far (if I remember rightly, the chapter on the film in Mark Le Fanu's book on Tarkovsky opens with some self-flagellating quotations). Though I suspect his opinion may have been coloured by what seems to have been an unusually difficult production - he had constant fights with Donatas Banionis over interpretation, and while he seems to have got on much better with Natalya Bondarchuk personally, there were diplomatic issues over the fact that she was the daughter of his highest-profile enemy within the Soviet film industry.

Quote:
It's certainly the most widely-known of his work.

That's certainly true, but being able to promote it as "the Soviet 2001" was the kind of marketing hook that none of Tarkovsky's other films ever came close to matching. In fact, wasn't it the only Tarkovsky film that had any significant profile in the US in his lifetime?


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 8:57 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
...In fact, wasn't it the only Tarkovsky film that had any significant profile in the US in his lifetime?

SOLARIS is the only one I was aware of during the 70s and 80s. I recall reading a Tarkovsky obituary that pretty much stated he was the guy who made SOLARIS and some other films. SOLARIS was the first of his films I saw and my initial response was that the director was including too many digressions from an already confusing plot! I gave ANDREI RUBLEV a spin sometime later and sat with my mouth agape muttering "This man's a genius!"

I think the best way to approach Tarkovsky's canon is to view the films in the order he made them. This is why I asked "mfunk9786" if he liked any of the director's other films when he found SOLARIS boring. IVAN'S CHILDHOOD is the perfect introduction because it has all the characteristics of Tarkovsky's work-to-come but in a tight, (relatively) conventional narrative. RUBLEV expands the scope considerably and is a perfect marriage between the filmmaker's poetic associations and a historical epic. This helps prepare one to experience the somewhat unruly philosophical ambition of SOLARIS, an ambition that is more perfectly realized in MIRROR and STALKER (a return to the science-fiction genre, but one that serves Tarkovsky's preoccupations much more elegantly).


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:05 am 
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The new direct Polish-to-English translation of the novel is now available as an audiobook.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:10 am 
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I am a little disappointed with the BD. It is certainly a huge upgrade from the DVD, and I appreciate that CC restored the correct tinting of the B&W scenes, but the BD is just so damn soft and lacks clarity. I don't know... perhaps that is how Tarkovsky filmed this or the stock just produced it that way, but I feel this could be so much sharper. It just doesn't pop.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:20 pm 
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aox wrote:
I am a little disappointed with the BD. It is certainly a huge upgrade from the DVD, and I appreciate that CC restored the correct tinting of the B&W scenes, but the BD is just so damn soft and lacks clarity. I don't know... perhaps that is how Tarkovsky filmed this or the stock just produced it that way, but I feel this could be so much sharper. It just doesn't pop.

I've wondered if the print CC is working with may be closer to a workprint than a finished master. There are some odd anomalies throughout such as slipped frames at the beginning of the POV shot of the father in the kitchen in the final scene (it looks like two or three frames from another take were left in accidentally with the father in a slightly different position) and the very unpolished look of the transition from the plant in the tin close-up to the reeds swaying in the lake (the camera zooms into the plant, the shot freezes, then cuts back to live motion just as the image starts to fade out only to abruptly cut to the reeds - a more effective transition would be to simply cut from the plant to the reeds prior to the freeze-frame). There were also a lot of frame jumps/jitters when simply cutting from one shot to another, something you will often see in workprints because of the splicing tape. Fortunately, CC cleaned up a lot of these jumps for the Blu-ray edition. I'm pleased enough with the results, but the image doesn't look nearly as good as CC's IVAN'S CHILDHOOD DVD, a film completed ten years earlier.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:52 pm 
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I haven't seen the Solaris blu-ray yet, but don't forget Ivan's Childhood was filmed on relatively perfected B&W stock while Solaris was filmed using the notoriously cruddy Sovcolor.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:52 am 
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Roger Ryan wrote:
aox wrote:
I am a little disappointed with the BD. It is certainly a huge upgrade from the DVD, and I appreciate that CC restored the correct tinting of the B&W scenes, but the BD is just so damn soft and lacks clarity. I don't know... perhaps that is how Tarkovsky filmed this or the stock just produced it that way, but I feel this could be so much sharper. It just doesn't pop.

I've wondered if the print CC is working with may be closer to a workprint than a finished master. There are some odd anomalies throughout such as slipped frames at the beginning of the POV shot of the father in the kitchen in the final scene (it looks like two or three frames from another take were left in accidentally with the father in a slightly different position) and the very unpolished look of the transition from the plant in the tin close-up to the reeds swaying in the lake (the camera zooms into the plant, the shot freezes, then cuts back to live motion just as the image starts to fade out only to abruptly cut to the reeds - a more effective transition would be to simply cut from the plant to the reeds prior to the freeze-frame). There were also a lot of frame jumps/jitters when simply cutting from one shot to another, something you will often see in workprints because of the splicing tape. Fortunately, CC cleaned up a lot of these jumps for the Blu-ray edition. I'm pleased enough with the results, but the image doesn't look nearly as good as CC's IVAN'S CHILDHOOD DVD, a film completed ten years earlier.

Great post. I had always noticed those little jumps but assumed it was the wear and tear of the film itself. Do I also understand correctly that the Soviets took better care of preserving their films than even the Americans (and the companies within the US)? So, I find my assumption probably somewhat inaccurate. Did the preservation ethic of the USSR carry into the Russian Federation? Was there a budget in the 1990s after the fall for maintaining their preservation standards?

John Edmond wrote:
I haven't seen the Solaris blu-ray yet, but don't forget Ivan's Childhood was filmed on relatively perfected B&W stock while Solaris was filmed using the notoriously cruddy Sovcolor.

Yeah, while Roger makes some decent points about the print looking suspiciously like a work print, I imagine that this is probably a better explanation. I didn't realize this film was shot on Sovcolor. :-k Maybe this BD is the best that this film can look at this point. ](*,)


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:12 pm 
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aox wrote:
John Edmond wrote:
I haven't seen the Solaris blu-ray yet, but don't forget Ivan's Childhood was filmed on relatively perfected B&W stock while Solaris was filmed using the notoriously cruddy Sovcolor.

Yeah, while Roger makes some decent points about the print looking suspiciously like a work print, I imagine that this is probably a better explanation. I didn't realize this film was shot on Sovcolor. :-k Maybe this BD is the best that this film can look at this point. ](*,)

Yes, Mr. Edmond's response is definitely more on topic with your inquiry! Undoubtedly the overall look of the SOLARIS Blu-ray is due to the stock the film was shot on. However, the frame jumps, slip frames and the like would not be related to the stock used but how the film print used by CC was actually edited.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:45 pm 

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Solaris was shot on Kodak. This is a historical fact. It's was very expensive imported films for russian's studio Mosfilm. Tarkovsky with Yusov (operator) and with all actors shots almost 3 hours of this movie at one take, because limits of Kodak for Solaris had no stockpiles (reserves) at all. When was needed a second take it's was a tragedy for camera crew, but it happened just a couple of times due to inexperience of Bondarchuk (Hari).


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:31 pm 
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My apologies, all of the discussions of Solaris I'd read describe it as a Sovcolor film. However, you're probably at least partly correct. Most entries refer to Solaris as being filmed in Sovcolor*, however the BFI database lists it as being filmed in Sovcolor and Orwocolor (a East Germany Agfa knock-off). More decisively we have this quote from Making Pictures: A Century of European Cinematography:**
Quote:
The usual shortage of color stock in the Soviet Union for minority-interest productions led to Eastmancolor being used only for the studio scenes in the space station, while Russian color negative (Sovcolor) was used for location footage, with interruptions of black and white in both. Tinting and the lower color saturation of the Russian negative help to integrate the look of the sections shot on different stocks.

*and B&W film stock, obviously.


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 Post subject: Re: 164 Solaris
PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 2:16 am 

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John Edmond, entire Solaris was shot on Kodak. You can read the chronicles filming (russian language): link (Olga Surkova was assistant of Tarkovsky). But it's a master-negative. On master-positives may have been printed on Sovcolor, it is very likely.

about B&W pieces. In original movie (and in initial version, and in Cannes version of movie) all "B&W" pieces was a blue tint (but very pale, not the same as on blu-ray). However in some copies of these pieces were made colorcorrectors as black-color. For example: it is this copy (with B&W parts) is now showing at the cinema "Illusion" (Illusion cinema it's a official Gosfilmofond-treasure cinema-theater). But on all master-copy of the Solaris these pieces are blue tint.

shots from the initial version (TVrip-VHS):
ImageImage


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