164 Solaris

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Dragoon En Regalia
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Re: 164 Solaris

#176 Post by Dragoon En Regalia » Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:41 pm

I only watched the opening sequences the night I got home from Austin with the BD, but me and my father recently watched the whole film. Great package overall, and my initial pick for a definitive art-house film. But Dad wasn't as impressed as I was with the film. He truly adores 2001 and a whole slew of off-the-radar films (he introduced me to The Stunt Man earlier this summer—the film that got me into film-watching again). Yet this one just didn't click with him, probably because of its pace and because its science-fiction elements aren't as pronounced as they are in the original novel. As an adaptation of the novel, though, I think the film succeeded in compromising between the kind of film that Tarkovsky wanted to make, and the kind of adaptation that Lem wanted to see. The sci-fi is there, but it's mainly used to buttress a web of interesting relationships and conflicts between Kris, the crew, his folks, and their guests.

The way Tarkovsky used monochrome film stock throughout the film was daring and, I must say, unconvincing and a victim of jagged editing. If it had been strictly used within the context of recordings and other flashback scenes, I would have liked the monochrome scenes a lot better. Because of the strange contrast between blue and black/white stock, as well as color film, I felt that the movie was rougher than it should have been. Jarring contrasts in the film-making itself, especially without clear reasons, turns me off.

Aside from that, though, this was a great film, and a good choice for my first Criterion BD. Every aspect of the character development made sense. Even the highway scene, long and ambiguous as it is, offered an interesting view into Burton's life, as he journeyed to and from society to make his case for the strange nature of Solaris. With some amazing cinematography, and a lot of subdued acting and slow pacing (which makes the characters feel more Russian, and Soviet), I came away very pleased. It's impenetrable in its own unique way—like Rossellini's Cartesius, which I saw recently—but Solaris is one of those films that will never get out of my head. Superlative science-fiction drama, and the kind of film I'm glad to see on this label, out of many other interesting films in the Collection.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#177 Post by Roger Ryan » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:33 am

Dragoon En Regalia wrote:...Because of the strange contrast between blue and black/white stock, as well as color film, I felt that the movie was rougher than it should have been. Jarring contrasts in the film-making itself, especially without clear reasons, turns me off...
I'm not certain if this is confirmed anywhere, but I was under the impression that Tarkovsky literally didn't have enough color film stock to shoot the entire film and resorted to black-and-white when that was on-hand. It's possible he planned ahead to use the black-and-white for select scenes, but the randomness suggests he was compromised at certain points.

I have no idea why some of the black-and-white footage is tinted blue and some is not. Perhaps the shots tinted blue were the ones Tarkovsky (and cinematographer Vadim Yusov) originally intended to shoot in black-and-white (representing the video screens and such) while the untinted ones were the unintended compromises.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#178 Post by Dragoon En Regalia » Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:17 am

This inconsistency still seems to be an area of contention, then, which isn't surprising. I'm actually under that same impression, but the argument of blue stock substituting for b/w stock can go the opposite way, too. And the dynamic between Tarkovsky and Mosfilms, business-wise, would have contributed to the whole problem if it was based on an economy of usable stock, not just creative usage of different stock.

This is just one of those weird editing decisions that may never be fully understood. Tarkovsky experts would have an easier time figuring it out than I would, anyway.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#179 Post by ryannichols7 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:00 pm

the blue tinted scenes are supposed to represent watching a small monitor or something like that.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#180 Post by Drucker » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:32 pm

ryannichols7 wrote:the blue tinted scenes are supposed to represent watching a small monitor or something like that.
There are other scenes in the film where the film turns B&W/tinted, such as at least one scene I can think of, off the top of my head, after a door closes in the spacecraft...

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Re: 164 Solaris

#181 Post by Roger Ryan » Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:55 pm

Drucker wrote:
ryannichols7 wrote:the blue tinted scenes are supposed to represent watching a small monitor or something like that.
There are other scenes in the film where the film turns B&W/tinted, such as at least one scene I can think of, off the top of my head, after a door closes in the spacecraft...
Right, the tinted shots are not exclusive to shots representing monitors. As discussed earlier in this thread, the blue tinting on the latest release is something Criterion did at cinematographer Vadim Yusov's request (he was unhappy with the straight black-and-white presentation of those shots on the original DVD issue). Reportedly, this is a look Yusov and Tarkovsky wanted back in '71 and initial prints reflected this.

What is puzzling is that not all the black-and-white shots have been tinted blue. Was this a mistake on Criterion's part? Were these shots left untouched at Yusov's request? If the latter, what was the justification for leaving a small handful of shots untinted? Virtually all of the "monitor" shots are tinted, which makes perfect sense, and some, but not all, of the shots related to flashbacks or memories (one even seems to be used as a day-for-night effect). But other random moments where black-and-white/tinted shots show up strongly suggest that no color film stock was available for that day of shooting.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#182 Post by nils » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:46 pm

about b/w scenes in movie.
How about this screenshot from official Mosfilm version: (shot from Mosfilm official channel on Youtube. First series 65th min.)
Image
It's a initially b/w roll film with partial blue tinted later! It's definitely hand made tinting.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#183 Post by Dragoon En Regalia » Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:12 pm

Andrei help us all. I don't think we'll ever figure out what the "original intent" behind the tinting was. Vida Johnson, in the commentary, suggests that this inconsistency arose in due part to a lack of color-film stock, which is what I'm leaning towards. And since the rest of the film was cobbled-up and put together on a shoestring budget in many areas, that's a likely scenario.

Natalya Bondarchuk's interview was an amazing way to follow-up on the commentary, too. And she seems to support the dual-dilemma scenario, through which Tarkovsky and Yusov found a way to make the most of their stock resources. But the truth—if we can call it that—is still unknown.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#184 Post by nils » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:04 pm

Authorized Mosfilm distributors Close-up have officially announced that they will release on Blu-ray!

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Re: 164 Solaris

#185 Post by nils » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:15 pm

Compare blu-rays (Criterion vs. Close-up). Close-up is much better by sharpness, colour and area of frame (sound better too). It was predictable because Close-up have a Mosfilm source footage.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#186 Post by andyli » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:26 pm

Wait... Am I missing something? All the Russia versions are dvd on that webpage.

EDIT: Never mind. Now I get them. You just need to scroll down.

One more question though, does this contain English subtitle? I am tempted to order it. Or should I wait for a future European release? UK? FR?

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Re: 164 Solaris

#187 Post by solaris72 » Sat Sep 01, 2012 11:10 am

andyli wrote:One more question though, does this contain English subtitle? I am tempted to order it. Or should I wait for a future European release? UK? FR?
No subs.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#188 Post by admira » Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:09 am

To mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of Mosfilm Studios, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival presents the restored version of the famous film meditation on the subconscious, faith, and the sense behind scientific research.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#189 Post by Zaki » Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:06 pm

I wonder how new this "newly restored version" is (the restoration year is not given on the festival's page). In other words, is it newer than the one used for the Criterion Blu?

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Re: 164 Solaris

#190 Post by Trees » Sat May 14, 2016 9:52 am

I had the great pleasure today of seeing the new MOSFILM restoration of Tarkovsky's Solaris. The screening at Cannes was well attended, and the Director General of MOSFILM Karen Shakhnazarov introduced the restoration.

Overall, the picture looks fantastic. Even better than I was expecting. The first 15 minutes or so of the film contained a few color shots that displayed a lot of chroma noise, especially in the leaves of some of the darker outdoor shots around the house, and in some of the "sea" shots. This had me worried, but after those initial small number of problematic shots, the chroma noise problem never appeared again. I have to say that all of the monochromatic scenes looked absolutely stellar! Some of the black-and-white shots, including the early shots of Burton, for example, look so sharp they could have been mistaken for 4K, or mistaken for recently shot footage. After the initial chroma noise issues in the first reel, all of the other color shots looked mouth-wateringly good. The weightless candle scene was drop-dead gorgeous. The resolution was so good, in fact, that I picked up on small details I had missed in previous viewings. I was able to see, for example, some of the black strings that made candles float. Intricate details are now visible in Bruegel's Hunters in the Snow.

Fans of Solaris have plenty to celebrate with this restoration. It's hard for me to explain what a joy it was to see this film restored so magnificently, on a huge screen with a quality sound system. This was among my favorite all-time cinema experiences.

The representative from MOSFILM said that a making-of video would be going up on Youtube soon, explaining the restoration process. Tarkovsky fans, rejoice.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#191 Post by ando » Sat May 14, 2016 11:23 am

Very cool. Any talk of a dvd/blu-ray release in the future?

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Re: 164 Solaris

#192 Post by Trees » Sat May 14, 2016 11:32 am

The intro was given in Russian and French. If there was any talk about releases, I was not able to understand it, unfortunately.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#193 Post by furbicide » Sat May 14, 2016 11:17 pm

Trees wrote:The resolution was so good, in fact, that I picked up on small details I had missed in previous viewings. I was able to see, for example, some of the black strings that made candles float.
See, this is why I'm still happy to buy VHS and haven't been won over by Blu-ray. Sometimes there's such a thing as too much image quality and it proves detrimental (it's also why I hate the imdb's 'goofs' section; need the magic of cinema be so gleefully destroyed?) – though I'm glad they've restored this film, of course! It's just that a bit of grain to hide the dodgy special effects never hurt anyone. ;)

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Re: 164 Solaris

#194 Post by oh yeah » Sun May 15, 2016 3:07 am

Seeing this on 35mm back in 2012 was an amazing experience. I don't recall being able to see the strings that kept the candles afloat, either, though I may not have been looking in the right place. It really made a bigger impact in 35, though, and I say that as someone who adores the film in any format.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#195 Post by MichaelB » Sun May 15, 2016 3:18 am

You probably wouldn't have been able to see the strings, as the filmmakers were most likely counting on them being rendered invisible once the film had reached the release-print stage, purely by virtue of being three or four generations removed from the negative.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#196 Post by Trees » Sun May 15, 2016 3:29 am

MichaelB, I am curious as to why the monochrome shots looked so much better and sharper than the color shots? I am unfamiliar with chemical film characteristics. Is there a reason why the perceived resolution is so much higher for black-and-white/monochrome shots vs. the color shots? IE, is more of the film grain used for resolution in monochrome vs color? Maybe with color stock some color film grains are discarded?

For example, with current digital cameras, a monochrome sensor like Red Dragon has actual higher resolution than a color Dragon, because no Bayer pattern is needed. I am not sure if the same is true of chemical monochrome film?

I notice, too, in some other restorations, like older Kurosawa pictures, for example, that the perceived resolution of black-and-white film seems very high. It wasn't until I saw the constant jumping from monochrome to color and back in SOLARIS that this really stood out to me as a question.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#197 Post by miless » Sun May 15, 2016 6:13 pm

Trees wrote:For example, with current digital cameras, a monochrome sensor like Red Dragon has actual higher resolution than a color Dragon, because no Bayer pattern is needed. I am not sure if the same is true of chemical monochrome film?
This here is likely the reason, as transferring color film will still require the Bayer filter, but the B&W will not. The other answer may be a difference in the quality of B&W vs Color film stocks (especially in the 70's).

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Re: 164 Solaris

#198 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun May 15, 2016 9:01 pm

Remember -- Kozintsev gave up trying to work with color for his last 2 films, as he was so unenthused about the quality (and stability) of Soviet color film stock.

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Re: 164 Solaris

#199 Post by andyli » Sun May 15, 2016 9:34 pm

Is the new MOSFILM restoration of Tarkovsky's Solaris the same as the one they used on the Russian blu-ray in 2012? The reason why I ask is that I own the edition and it was allegedly based on a then-new gorgeous restoration. I wonder why the film needs another round of scan and clean-up...

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Re: 164 Solaris

#200 Post by ando » Sun May 15, 2016 10:24 pm

Has anyone mentioned the similarity of the scene involving Kris questioned by Soviet officials with Frankenheimer's garden party/communist high brass scene in The Manchurian Candidate? One of the greatest cinematic nods, imo. And one I don't think Tarkovsky would have hesitated to acknowledge.

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