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2001: A Space Odyssey Solaris b y Keith Cavedo A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D. Lawrence Broer, Ph.D. Victor Peppard Ph.D. Silvio Gaggi Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 1, 2010 Keywords: Film Studies, Science Fiction Studies Alien Identity, Human Identity Copyright 2010, Keith Cavedo
Dedication I dedicate this scholarly enterprise with all my heart to my parents, Vicki McCoo k Cavedo and Raymond Berna rd Cavedo, Jr. for their unwavering love, support, and kindness through many difficul t years. Each in their own way a lodestar, my parents have guided me to my particular destination. M y father and I especially have shared a lo ve of science fiction films for as long as I can remember. I would also like to acknowledge the inspiration of two of my oldest and closest friends, Todd Cristian and David Rov ny ak. Together we have transmuted dreams into reality. Finally I would be re miss if I did not include a special note of gratitude to my major professor on this project, Dr. P hillip Sipiora, who maneuver ed me through a number of scheduling complications
i Table of Contents Abstract i i Chapter 1: Introductions Fantasy v s /and Science Fiction, Problems of Definition Contexts 1 This Island Earth (1955) 9 Planet of Storms (1962) 16 Argument and Purpose 24 Chapter 2: Review of Critical Literature 2001: A Space Odyssey 27 31 2001 Solaris and Contact 33 Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film 38 Robert P 42 45 The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue 49 Chapter 3: Analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 54 55 Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite 62 Chapter 4: Analysis of Solaris (1972) 74 Part One 75 Part Two 87 Chapter 5: Conclusions Comparison of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris 101 Broadening the Context 108 End Notes 115 References 161 About the Author End Page
ii 2001: A Space Odyssey Solaris Keith Cavedo ABSTRACT The alien encounter has long been a de fining and popular subject of science 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Andrei Solaris (1972) are interrogative, complex, and distinct artistic accomplishments that stand apart from and above the conventional science fiction film 2001 and Solaris not only represent but complicate the alien/human dichotomy; in the end, they destabilize the dichotomy and even suggest a radical synthesis of the dichotomous elements. 2001 and Solaris further emp hasize epistemological and specifically anthropocentric limitations when it comes to understanding the alien or attempting to make sense of the alien encounter. Chapter 1 introduces the alie n/human dichotomy in two representative science fiction fil ms of the period, This Island Earth (1955) and Planet of Storms (1962). Chapter 1 provides some contextual and contrapuntal basis for the originality of 2001 and Solaris Chapter 2 reviews critical literature directly and indirectly addressing alien an d human identity, interpretations of symbolic forms such as the monolith in 2001 Solaris 2001 ) and Chapter 4 (on Solaris ) examine the alien/human dichotomy in specific sce nes where an
iii alien, non human presence appears to be present or where an alien encounter significantly occurs. The two chapters analyze techniques such as the significance of the establishing shot and other shots or cinematographic effects settings, point of view, and non diegetic music By way of conclusion Chapter 5 compares 2001 and Solaris and makes the argument for the differences between and departures from the two film masterpieces and conventional science fiction films. Chapter 5 ends with further considerations of the argument and a broadening of the context. This dissertation should be of interest not only to science fiction scholarship in general bu t to film studies in particular. I t aims to provide a sophisticated reading of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris supported by recent criticism in an effort to join in the ongoing scholarly discussion and critical legitimatization of science fiction cinema
1 Chapter 1: Introductions Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles What is Isaac Asimov, The Caves of Steel Fantasy vs./ and Science Fiction, Problems of Definition Contexts 2001: A Space Odyssey Solaris (1972) are two of the most acclaimed scienc e fiction films, but as with all works of art, they did not appear suddenly out of the vacuum of space 1 Instead they evolved from a particular context, in this case the science fiction film, which has been around at least as A Trip to the Moon (1902), often cited as the original science fiction film but actually more fantasy than science fiction. Some critics have attempted to differentiate fantasy from science fiction, but in the end the differences between the two genres a re less than the similarities; the essential distinctions remain problematic or nebulous at best. The attempt to differentiate the two genres 2 is analogous to trying to separate the alien from the human at the end of 2001 or Solaris : it simply cannot be do ne in any transparent and convincing fashion. One traditional method has attempted to differentiate fantasy and science fiction based on the notions of probability and possibility subject to scientific laws. Fantasy literature and
2 films are not only improb able, the method suggests, but impossible they could never happen anywhere in the known universe or on planet Earth at least. 3 Science fiction/films, on the other hand, are similarly improbable but not impossible. For instance, consider 2001 : Is it probab le human sci entists in the near future may unearth an alien object buried on the moon? No. Is it possible, or could this conceivably happen? Is the scenario within the realm of possibility? Yes. But even the probability/possibility method does not work so well with a science fiction film like Solaris on an exoplanet? No. Is it possible? A sentient ocean is theoretically possible on an alien planet 4 just not on Earth as far as we know. So, is Solaris more fantasy than science and exceptions abound. Rather than construe fantasy and science fiction as antagonistic, it may be more helpful to consider both genres as evolving from what Carlos Cla rens, author of An Illustrated History of Horror and Science Fiction Films Fantastic cinema includes not only fantasy films as traditionally understood but horror here seems to be inside us a constant, ever present yearning for the fantastic, for the darkly mysterious, for the c hoked movie theater or the subject of horror films but also the darkness of philosophical uncertainty in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris the darkness of human knowledge in our groping to understand the unknown, the alien, or the cosmos.
3 Opposing ( or in conjunction with ) realism, 5 fantastic cinema is w ell equipped to address uncertainty. Indeed, our desire for and need of the fantastic corresponds in The flowering of the fantastic in the last [nineteenth] century, the period that produced [Ed gar Allan Poe,] Wil Gustave Dore, and Robert Louis Stevenson, accompanied the most remarkable strides in the field of science. The more rationalistic a time becomes the more it needs the escape valve of the fantastic. This delicate balance is even more obvious to day when the demand for the fantastic (and the horrific) has reached a never before attained height, coinciding with the peak period of scientific technological development. Fantastic art, of which horror films and science fiction are the popular champions makes us realize that man carries in himself an instinct for destruction, but also the will to curb this instinct. 6 (xix xx ) Clarens proposes that horror and science fiction films represent ancient and mode re levant to the modern age (xviii ). He refers to the debut of 1930s Universal monster horror films on American television in the late 1950s: now emer ged as myths, more powerful than ever before and, indeed, the present popular revival of horror in the various m ). We can easily substitute science fiction films perhaps made us gasp forty years ago (esp ecially in 2001: A Space Odyssey ) special effects, mind boggling vistas of outer space, etc. may have lost their power somewhat to induce wonder and astonishment in our digital age. But the myths of 2001 and Solaris remain as relevant as ever and constitut e at least in part the enduring appeal of both films. Rather than attempt to distinguish fantasy from science fiction or group them together under one general label, it may make sense to begin with a working definition of to see if 2001 a nd Solaris can be classified as such or at least bear certain family resemblances to films in the genre. However, it becomes apparent that
4 definitions are equ ally problematic. Clemens admits in An Illustrated History of Horror and Science Fiction Films tha t defining science fiction is difficult (118); ultimately, we may have to rely on some indefinable and intuitive understanding of the multifarious the Martian romance s of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Martian chronicles of Ray The difference is not only qualitative but universe and human annihilation b only one step ahead of the head more recognizable in literary as opposed to other forms of science fiction, although I would argue that extrapolation fulfils a crucial role in a film like 2001: A Space Odyssey (filmed as it was in the mid 1960s) and, to a lesser extent, in Solaris : Hard to define abstractly, science fiction is instantly recognizable on the printed page. Its principle feature is extrapolation from the past and the present. It may take for a settin g the human mind or the all but human cosmos. It can be subject to the stripes of many moods: satirical, sociological, humorous, philosophical. And although it has partially lost the admonitory gloom of a George Orwell or an Aldous Huxley, it still takes the tone of moral warning when it deals with the 7 (118) Gregg Rickman, editor of The Science Fiction Film Reader traces the science fiction genre back to nineteenth century literary antecedents like H.G. Wells. 8 Rickman also attempts to define science fiction, stating that at its most rudimentary level science 2001 and Solaris can hardly be characterized as fictional films dealing or co ncerned with science. Rather,
5 both films explore the philosophical implications of contact with the alien, and both films emphasize the human in the alien encounter. Both films are dea ling or concerned with science in its older root meaning 9 only in the se nse of epistemological limitations. But Rickman also provides a more sophisticated definition. He borrows from New Maps of Hell (1960): s situation that could not arise in the world we know, but which is hypothesized on the basis of some innovations in science and technology, or pseudo science or pseudo In this sense, both 2001 and Solaris qualify as examples of science fiction. 2001 focuses on technology or pseudo technology per se Moreo ver, it is an alien technology or ability perhaps in So laris that allows the Ocean to make contact with the scientists on board the orbiting space station. On the other hand, Solaris 2001 definition, it still does not adequately characterize 2001 or Solaris tic orientations or concerns, and what distinguishes these two films from conventional science fiction films. In conclusion, it may not be possible to provide adequate or inclusive definitions of science fiction whether the focus is literary or cinematic. Clarens acknowledges his ) in his Illustrated History and indeed
6 sanctioned by usage and the ). Clarens also points out that classifying ge nres like horror or science fiction may not only be difficult but useless, especially for films like 2001 and Solaris that transcend narrow generic classifications. Writing in 1967 in An Illustrated History Clarens astutely comments: Film is an immensely rich, free to pigeonhole the enormous mass of film laid at our disposal through seventy [now one hundred plus] years of industry, we apply to movies the strict rules and superficial restrictions of genre heading s, when horror films (and Westerns) [and science fiction] at their best obey no rules and transcend the limitations we impose on them. Let me be the first to realize that such a staggering number of movies can wreak havoc on any serious attempt at theorizi ng. Most movies have their own voices, and none of them was created to support a s ingle aesthetic or theory. (xxi ) Perhaps the best way to understand 2001 and Solaris then, is to investigate the context from which they derived that is, to examine precedi ng science fiction films. Robert Kolker, the most influential critic of 2001: A Space Odyssey has traced the evolution of the modern science fiction film back to the 1950s. In an essay on 2001 appearing in Film Analysis: A Norton Reader Kolker notes the merging of classic horror and fantasy genres in the 1950s science fiction film (604). 10 Conventional science fiction films of the 1950s gave birth to the alien invasion theme in which the alien is generally represented as a monster determined to destroy or conquer the Earth the goals not being mutually exclusive Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1955), replace humans and human individuality with an alien collective consciousness. 11 ence Fiction and the Mysterium in 2001 Solaris and Contact most common depiction of the alien in typical sc
7 terror and rage, inspiring orgies of paranoiac violence 12 or perhaps just ilms is invested with human motives or behavior like violence, rage, or destruction, 13 but otherwise is represented as an inhuman monster and human nemesis. Significantly, many of the films in which this kind of alien is the star vehicle (such as War of the Worlds drugging fantasies of [mass] An Illustrated Hi story of Horror and Science Fiction Films 122). But Wessel notes that aliens in conventional scien for every kind of human difference Kolker in his essay on 2001 in Film Analysis notes that aliens in films like Invasion of the Snatchers fre and blood (though, of course, barely a commonly accepted interpretation of 1950s science fiction films operating as thinly disguised Cold War allegories. 14 and its closest relative, the alien as unsympathetic monster film, the alien encounter invariably assumes the form of belligerent conflict. In order to contextualize 2001 and Solaris I will investigate two science fiction films from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s when production of 2001 began. The films represent many conventional sci ence fiction films of the time period I endeavor not only to provide some basic context for 2001 and Solaris but also to highlight some ways typical science fiction films of the period serve as counterpoints for 2001 and Solaris especially in regard to the alien/human dichotomy. Investigating two conventional science fiction films of the period will help illuminate the distinctiveness of 2001 and
8 Solaris and demonstrate how the latter two are landmark and even unique films in the genre. As in Chapters 3 and 4 focusing on 2001 and Solaris I will concentrate in this introductory chapter on specific instances where the alien encounter significantl y occur s in the two films; add itionally I will discuss implications of the encounters. I have several criteria in mind for choosing the two period films to contextualize 2001 and Solaris : First, as noted, the films must have been made in the mid 1950s up to the mid 1960s. I am beginni ng with the mid 1950s because this dec ade is often considered the hey day of classic science fiction cinema, but it is also the beginning of modern science fiction whose influence can still be seen and heard in science fiction films today. Both period film s are or were popular films as far as I know, although I am less certain about the Russian as opposed to the American scene. Generally speaking, science fiction has always been a popular genre; 15 unlike the Western and perhaps a few other genres, science fi 2001 was a popular success before it received wide critical recognition. Second, given that 2001 was primarily an Anglo American production, 16 it makes sense to choose an American science fi ction film for comparison. Similarly, considering Tark ov contextualizing Solaris 17 Third, the films can be set on Earth (the beginning of 2001 ) but also must be set in space ( 2001 ) or another planet ( Solaris ) and involve an alien encounter ( 2001 and Solaris ). 18 This Island Earth (1955) can help contextualize 2001 Planet of Storms ( Planeta Burg 1962) can help contextualize Solaris
9 Cont This Island Earth bears some superficial similarities with 2001 but ultimately elucidates 2001 outer space 19 in This Island Earth focuses th more importantly foreshadows the alien enco unter with which This Island Earth is simply and conventionally concerned. The implications of the establishing shot are never fully or adequately explored because almost immediately the film abandons suggestive imagery for formulaic and literally mundane narrative. 20 The f irst alien encounter in This Island Earth recommends the alien as a benevolent and providing entity. 21 The classic hero of the film, Dr. Cal Meachum, is not only an electrical scientist but a fighter pilot, and he flies his own fighter jet to a base at the beginning of the film. When he pulls a stunt and the plane spirals out of control, an eerie green light envelops his plane and sets it down without incident on the runway. The light and electronic humming sound accompanying the green ligh t is the first explicit representation of the alien in the film. Not only is the green light and auditory cue alien, some initial mystery obscures the alien motivation or purpose for rescuing Meachum. Unlike 2001 clearly explained in the film: a humanoid alien named Exeter has been remotely observing Meachum and rescues Meachum from certain death because Exeter requires his scientific knowledge. The alien imagery in the form of the green light and electronic hummin g can only be interpreted as a direct or literal representation of the alien devoid of symbolism The alien in 2001
10 assumes an unconventional or abstruse form, the black monolith, and together with the auditory cues serves not only as a literal representat ion of the alien but suggests a complex symbolism. The alien as benevolent provider idea continues in the scene where Exeter mails alien beads to Meachum in This Island Earth The beads contain an unknown power source and can withstand 35,000 volts of electricity before blowing up. Meachum 2001 however, the beads are impenetrable to human science o r comprehension. By sending Meachum the mysterious beads, the alien appears benevolent and desirous of advancing the human condition through technological means. 22 Exeter also sends Meachum schemata 23 for 24 an alien technology tha t works primarily as a video communication device, which could greatly enhance human communications. But the intricate technology, only the smartest scientists are capa ble of figuring out how to build an interroceter thus eliminating humans who would not best serve the Metalunan cause. The alien Metalunans are not motivated by benevolent or altruistic impulses but by purely selfish ones. As if to reinforce this notion, o nce Meachum builds an interroceter and communicates with Exeter, it self destructs so that humans cannot benefit from an understanding of the alien technology. Explicit explanations of the interroceter diminish any mystery surrounding the alien and reduc e alien identity to pulp science fiction formulas. 25 The alien Metalunans possess superior intellects but are represented as evil beings who desire to enslave human
11 scientists for their own purposes. Only Exeter remains a sympathetic alien. Although he kill s some of the human scientists, he finds the use of the mind controlling device on bound Metalunans for instance, the emotionally cold, detached, and formal Brack Exeter posse sses a compassionate disposition and human ethical sensibility. For some unexplained reason, Exeter sympathizes with Meachum and Adams, not only sparing them from certain death on Earth but even helping them escape once they arrive on Metaluna. Exeter fulf stereotype 26 who sacrifices his life at the end of the fil m when their damaged flying saucer returns to Earth. 27 The next alien encounter in the film occurs when Exeter sends a plane that flie s by a utomatic pilot to pick up where the human scientists work. 28 Obviously an alien technology like the interroceter, the plane lands and departs successfully in zero visibility. The green ligh t that surround ed fighter jet again envelops the automatic plane, associating the plane with the alien or alien technology. After an all night flight in dense fog, the plane lands in the country. Meachum disembarks and, puzzled, asks the female scientist who gr eets him: st ate). The limited dialogue 29 in this scene demonstrates the trivialization of the alien in This Island Earth in the most familiar, concrete, and reductive terms. Indeed, the alien Metalu nans not only
12 appear in human form 30 the only hint of alien features being prominent indentations on their foreheads and platinum blonde hair they speak in English, and not just with the human scientists, but with each other when humans are not around. When Meachum first meets Exeter in the next scene, the first direct alien encounter in the film, 31 Exeter offers Meachum finds out from his colleagues. This is a very differe nt kind of alien encounter than the ones the human characters experience in 2001 or Solaris Emphasis on the extraterrestrial pseudo technology resumes when Meachum and Adams are spared by Exeter, brought aboard the typical 1950s alien flying saucer, and f lown to exo planet Metaluna. The Metalunan space ship glows with greenish light and the electronic humming sound can be heard again on the soundtrack. The dated visual the Thermal Barrier actually a fairly impressive process shot may not compare with the images in the star gate sequence of 2001 but it does predate the sequence. The alien effectively guides human passengers in both sequences; however, the reason for suc h guidance is clarified in This Island Earth (with the alien actually being aboard) but is no where explained in 2001 The setting or mise en scene rather of planet Metaluna is one of the most important alien constructions in This Island Earth The matte backgrounds suggest Metaluna is an Earth like, rocky, and volcanic alien world of unearthly colors. However, it is difficult to tell whether this is the natural condition of the surface or if the rocky desolation results from the Zagon bombardment. The com plex alien architecture of spiral shapes and domed buildings conveys a sense of the alien but, simultaneously, the
13 architecture appears recognizably human. Alternatively, Kubrick in 2001 represents the alien in an abstract form or as a physical object of a n abstract idea in the monolith, the alien architecture of Metaluna literally represe nts the alien but fails to suggest any symbolic meanings. Further, unlike 2001 where the music comments ironically or contrapuntally on the visual images, the non diegetic music accompanying the scenes on Metaluna is affecting only in the most rudimentary sense: the music becomes melancholy the music in This Island Earth functions as backgro und or vaguely atmospheric accompaniment and represents standard or substandard music in 1950s science fiction ci nema that does little more than move the narrative predictably forward. For the first time in This Island Earth though, some attempt is made to realistically dep ict the alien in the form of an alien locale, the planet Metaluna For instance, the pressure (along with Meachum and Adams) must be re pressurized aboard the flying saucer before landing on Metaluna and again de pressurized before returning to Earth. As noted, the Metalunans on Earth or in the flying saucer appear very human in physical appearance and behavior, but on the Metalunan surface their skin acquires a strange blue tint that underscores their alien state and separateness from humans. On the other hand, the human characters or hum anity appear contradictory in the film. In his report to the coldly distant Metalunan officia l more like Brack in alien characterization Exeter admits the
14 for all t heir vast technology, the Metalunans appear passively child like, an idea that res onates perhaps with humans and human technology in the soporific world and space of 2001 hav ethics or morality with the Godless alien on the other. Once on Metaluna, Meachum and Adams are introduced to the obligatory alien monster. A being or beings called a Monito r is an alien mutation with a large brain for a head and insect like pincers for hands. The Monitor of Metaluna cannot speak, thus de serves no o ther purpose than a crea ture that terrorizes, attacks, and is attacked by the attacks him. 32 The wounded Monitor pursues Exeter and the human scientists aboard the flying saucer with the intention of killing them, which makes no sense whatsoever It would be more logical to board the ship in order to escape the destroyed planet and perhaps work cooperatively with familiar Metalunans like Exeter who are capable of flying the ship; indeed, Exeter may even be able to heal Ludicrously 33 the wounded Monitor conveniently disintegrates outside the protection of the de pressurization device on the return journey home. The incarnation of mindless and e disappearance inadvertently reminds the viewer of the emptiness of alien identity which a conventional film like This Island Earth represents or rather fails to represent. At the end of the film, a melodramatic scene unfolds in which the human scientists bid farewell to the redeemed and humanized Exeter. Exet er, Meachum, and
15 Adams elude an exploding Metaluna as well as Zagon ships (who fail to pursue and destroy them for some unknown reason), and a formulaic ending resolves the narrative. Metaluna explode fact that he shows no concern for the destruction of his home world. 34 Except for the cartoonish Monitor, the flying saucer makes the return trip to Earth without incident. 35 rather than live, Exeter comforts his human friends with cheap and artificial sentiments by telli Instead, the final image shows The ending appears upbeat and affirmative, the requisite resolution of conventional 195 restores human values of loyalty, redemption, and self sacrifice: Exeter chooses to die for some confused reason so that Meachum and Adams can live (happily ever after which they would do Zagon war allegorizes the dangers of (human) atomic technology and conflict with which a number of 1950s science fiction films are simply and thematically concer ned. In sum, This Island Earth can be seen as both a typical representing the alien encounter and the alien/human dichotomy. 36
16 rms (1962) Planet of Storms ( Planeta Burg ) Solaris from typical science fiction films of the period. Unlike This Island Earth Planet of Storms somewhat complicates the alien/human dichotomy and endeavors to consider, however superficially, philosophical implications of the alien encounter. Rather than begin in outer space, the establishing shot occurs aboard a spaceship or space station as the camera pans familiar objects in a series of close ups: a globe (perhaps, significantly, the Earth or maybe Venus), instrumentation panels, etc. The establishing shot is distinctly from a human subjective point of view within a man made inst allation in space. Non diegetic symphonic music provides a sense of domestic comfort against the alien 2001 where the camera zooms into the monolith which then enlarges into out er space the camera zooms from inside the space station through a porthole into outer space. The establishing shot and accompanying music informs the viewer that Planet of Storms is concerned primarily with the human and human point of view in the alien e ncounter. As soon as the camera leaves the porthole and enters outer space, eerie voices can be heard chanting, much like the Ligeti music accompanying the monolith in 2001 The voices indicate a transition from a human comfortable, and knowable space to an alien hostile, and unknowable space. Typically, however, the film dispels the mystery of the alien or cosmos with a mundane voice over narration. A Soviet radio announcer broadcasts an official announcer even repeats
17 human political sphere one predicated specifically on national interests. The announcer announcement from the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union: Three Soviet cosmic expedition starships, Sirius Vega and Cappella have spanned the distance of over two hundred million kilometers and are safely approaching Venus. The cosmonauts are in sense of almost documentary like realism, for it is like ly there would be broad s tate sponsored new s coverage in popular media such as rad io about an historical event. The announcement also functions as expo sition, explaining the background for the film viewer, which would have been understood even without the voice over narration. ( Solaris refuses to use voice over narration as a means of e xposition. 37 ) Simultaneously, the radio announcement suggests that Planet of Storms adheres to a Soviet propaganda film rather than being an apolitical science fiction/fantasy film about humans in space. The optimistic patriotism of Soviet sponsored space t ravel is most evident in the the ra dio announcement consist of rocket ships against the backgro und of space and then a distant shot of the mysteriously white 38 planet Ven us. Does Klushantsev intend the radio announcement as a satire of nationalist politics in outer space, or does the film espouse and affirm Soviet patriotism? The latter seems to make the most sense for the rest of the film. 39 But i mmediately after the offic ial Soviet radio announcement, an asteroid crashes into one of the three Soviet rocket ships, the Cappella annihilating it. The image seems to suggest that human or nationalist politics is
18 a fragile, inconsequential thing in the random dangers of outer sp ace. In short, human politics has no place in out er space, but inevitably man will bring his politics to the stars. Mournful Russian non diegetic music conveys a sense of loss, melancholy, and death 40 The f irst alien representation in Planet of Storms is a n image of the cloud surface represent the alien planet as something vast, mysterious, and unknowable. Tarkovsky adopted identical image s for the mysterious Ocean on planet Solaris. While these u nsettling alien images over in Planet of Storms can be heard as she speaks discovered oceans and 41 pauses and the camera portrays her subjective point of view looking o ut of the porthole (the same perhaps in the establishing shot ? ) into space. She continues: biggest question: if there is life. Who is there? Now, at last, to get this question me Masha confidently predicts an answer to the fundamental mystery about alien existence, the image of the cloud enshrouded confidence. 42 hotomy is not so much evident between the a lien and human but between two approaches to alien discovery : the technical (objective scientific data) and the human (subjective perception). In the very next shot, the cosmonauts take pressure readings of Venus and Masha
19 Technical data or science cannot answer this question; it unanswerable question reveal a variety of responses to the alien question. Scherbe presumably means an intelligent or humanoid being. When Alexey discerns a reddi sh spot on Venus, later revealed to be an active volcano, he anthropomorphizes the alien 43 The men are incapable of imagining the alien except in the m ost common anthropocentric language As if to reinforce this notion by emphasizing the human or a human designed technology, the very next shot shows one of the rocket ships s t identity 44 images, the film seems poised to explore the implications o f the alien encounter; but like This Island Earth it rapidly covers all too familiar terrain and descends into formulaic narrative. For instance, the alien surface is very Earth turn o n the outside microphones the cosmonauts hear strong winds blowing and then an unearthly sound an alien but distinctly female human voice singing a ghostly incomprehensible song. When they emerge from the rocket, they discover a desolate and rocky landsc 2001 Alexey turns over a stone and speaks in a voice
20 the contrary, w hat is tru ly unbelievable is that Venus is represented as another Earth. The conventional alien as monster depiction occurs in the next scene when a creature that looks ironically like a Venus Fly Trap 45 grabs Alexey with a centipede like tentacle in an apparent att empt to devour him. At that point, the female alien voice or 46 Why the invisible alien would care about Alexey remains a mystery, but the idea of a bene volent, providing, or prote ctive alien in This Island Earth seems to recur in Planet of Storms does not refer to the tentacled creature as an example of alien life; the crea ture is a mere brute animal that does not count. He means, of course, the alien intelligence that alerted his comrades about his danger. Klushantsev next uses a crosscutting technique to show th e first landing party battling reptilian lizard Fly Trap. Who these Lizard Men are or what they are doing we assume they are attacking Scherbe, Kern, and John for food, but we do not know for s ure is irrelevant because they are evil alien monsters that should be killed They appear in the film for no other reason than to provide an action scene or science fiction violence, but their appearance is ludicrous and unnecessary. The next scene of Ilya sample of a brontosaurus constitutes a comedic digression. Moreover, the direct alien and erodes the philosophical aspirations at the begin ning of the film. From this
21 point on, Planet of Storms degenerates into a muddled (or muddied considering the superficial speculation with requisite science fiction formulas. Such a narrative calls for stock i ngredients of the period like a planet of marvels, alien monsters, and special effects, which Planet of Storms capably but pointlessly delivers. After further philosophical questioning 47 the implications of which are never explored in the film the penultim investigates a submerged alien city. First the party observes a giant octopus and fish of various kinds, leading Alexey to comment in an astute voice etween Earth and Venus. Alexey next wonders in his voice cosmonauts soon discover a dragon sculpture with rubies for eyes one which must have underwater city reduce the strangenes s of the alien to the familiarly human There is no attempt to maintain the aura of a lien mystery the film seemed to suggest in the swirling cloud formations of Venus. The alien is knowable, reductive, human merely a lost human tribe or civilization. 48 Similarly, the alien voice which calls or sings to the cosmonauts and whom Alexey desires to meet is, significantly, a human female. For the same reason the alien is represented in human form in Planet of Storms Venus is merely another or primordial Earth. Earth like phenomena or features are represented in the rocky landscape, what one char and a lot of rain thus the title of the film. The red spot is actually a volcano complete
22 with flowing lava, fires, and a cloud of dust where the volcano erupts. The cosmonauts ng at the end of the film. The planet represents r aw nature or pristine wilderness a hostile world but clearly hostile for humans in particular. 49 Venus also has beaches and oceans; on the seashore, the cosmonauts build campfires and enjoy the Venus ian but quite earthly sunset. The cosmonauts attempt to make the hostile planet as homey as possible and they succeed in their endeavors In the first landing party, Kern even whistles. The robot John brings down a tree like a lumberjack and also serves as a walking juke favorite Big Band music as they cross the t ree John has brought down to serve as a bridge between cliffs. 50 recomm ends an upbeat ending 51 and relates to the conception of Venus as unexplored or earthly wilderness and the cosmonauts as heroic explorers returning home like sailors on ught us. Stand at the helm, with valor in o ur hearts. The seas and fields and woods await us there. In our dear land, our homeland, our Earth, guys! The persona in the song directly addresses the personified Venus and thanks the planet seems to be confused with perhaps fellow cosmonauts? The question is: What exactly has Venus taught the cosmonauts? The understanding perhaps that they are Earth men who belong to Earth thus the meaning of the specifical
23 an alien world. Ironically, the persona claims Venus has provided them with shelter when the planet has provided them anything but shel ter because it is a raw, inimical indicate what must be done for the voyage home to Earth or it could indicate that human exploration of the stars will continue. The patriotic connotation or support for the cosmonauts is evident in line six considering the archaic word associatin g the cosmonauts with a romanticized that even though Venus is Earth like, humans require an alien world or a clear distinction between alien and human in order to understand themselv es or wh at they miss and cherish most about their home planet; Tarkovsky would make this a major theme in Solaris The visual images accompanying the song are all emphatically Earth small dinosaurs, and the brontosaurus. The ending of the film portrays the most significant direct alien encounter one which the cosmonauts miss entirely. The two landing parties are reunited and must urgently take off in the rocket because of a Venusia n quake and rising flood waters. The triangulated stone sculpture Alexey discovered in the underwater city cracks and crumbles apart, revealing i n a close up shot the smiling and white (ivory?) face of a Venusian woman. Alexey cries out for the rocket ship to wait because he has finally rocket is shown bl asting off from an alien or ob jective point of view The eerie voice or
24 rocket landing site. She is dressed in a flowing white robe as if she were an initiate or partici pant in some kind of occult ceremony. The significance of the ending seems to be a more than mysterio us human s as if the cosmonauts and film viewer have not already seen ample evidence in support of this conception! The song plays again as the rocket ship makes its way into the Venusian heavens, and the closing shot returns to the establishing shot of outer space or valiant cosmonauts are Earth men who will return to Venus one day perhaps to conquer it As before, the song attempts to represent a clear Venus/Earth or alien/human dichotomy: Planet of Storms, see you soon. Soon you will see again our ships from Earth. We are her sons and we shall prove our worth! of Earth, guys! Argument and Purpose The alien/human dichotomy is explicitly represented in conve ntional science fiction films of the period such as This Island Earth and Planet of Storms. In films like This Island Earth there is no complication of th e alien/human dichotomy. Planet of Storms makes an initially confused and superficial attempt to complicate matters with philosophical speculation. As the latter film progresses, however, its assumptions and efforts in this area are largely unexamined or u nconvincing. In both films, aliens and
25 humans are discretely incompatible beings with either no hope desire of or opportunity for profound interaction. Alien and human identity is something simple, consistent, categorical a clear and uncomplicated dichot omy. In conventional science fiction films the alien appears human, but it can also assume the shape of inhuman monsters: the Monitor of Metaluna in This Island Earth the lizard men and pterodactyl in Planet of Storms Regardless of whether the alien is h uman or monstrous, alien identity tends to be reduced to absolutes: evil aliens (Metalunans excepting Exeter in This Island Earth ) who oppose humans 52 or benevolent aliens (Exeter in This Island Earth or the Venusian woman in Planet of Storms ) who aid them. Human identity is nothing less than absolutely good in both films. Moreover, by showing the alien frequently, both films trivialize the alien and render the alien something ridiculous, knowable, and familiar. Neither film profoundly i nterrogates the anthr opocentric conception of the alien or the limits of human knowledge when it comes to understanding the alien; in short, neither film questions the alien/human dichotomy. 2001 : A Space Odyssey and Solaris are distinctively interrogative, complex, and philos ophical science fiction films in large part because of the ways they question, complicate, and destabilize the alien/human dichotomy. I essay to make a case for the distinctiveness of 2001 and Solaris in this regard not only because the films are works of cinematic art that deserve in depth interpretation, but because science fiction criticism has not addressed this topic or the topic at length. In the process of examining the alien/human dichotomy in 2001 and Solaris I aim to explore such questions as: Wh at is the meaning of the alien encounter, and what does such an encounter imply about the alien/human dichotomy? How is the alien/human dichotomy different in 2001 and Solaris
26 compared to conventional science fiction films? What makes 2001 and Solaris diff erent if not unique? I aim to contribute to science fiction studies in general and film studies in particular by exploring possible responses to these questions and providing a sophisticated reading of 2001 and Solaris supported by recent criticism. My pur pose in writing is to participate in the ongoing scholarly discussion and critical legitimization of science fiction cinema.
27 Chapter 2: Review of Critical Literature Robert Kolker is the fore 2001: A Space Odyssey Film Analysis: A Reader a Norton anthology of critical essays devoted to a variety of films widely recognized a s major accomplishments. In this essay Kolker offers a symbolic interpretation of the monolith along with an extensive interpretation of the The critic begins by proposing a series of related philosophical questions 2001 ra extraterrestrial life? Does it guide human progress?....Can humans be reborn into a greater consciousness? What, ultimately, is the place of human consciousness in the oints out that 2001 holds back more than it reveals. 53 No where is me aning made explicit in the film; r ather than answer questions, 2001 admits only the impossibility of human comprehension confronted with the inexplicable mysteries of the cosmos. One of th or lack thereof according to Kolker. Kolker explains the monolith in natural terms rather than preternatural or extraterrestrial ones. The monolith for Kolker symbolizes not an alien presence b simply represents advancements or changes in human natural or technological evolution.
28 The monolith in this sense does not possess a physical or material reality in the film bu t has a symbolic significance only. 54 Kolker higher power but represents what our very own possibiliti The ble idea development and subsequent violence. associ weapon in to spaces hip jump cut, which implies seemed to initiate the calm remains in the back of ou r minds and moves like a shadow, shortly after the release of 2001 in 1968 similarly through 2001 Plank 146). violence results from the encounter with the alien monolith and not because of some the early humans in sequence one seem to possess no other will than the will t o survive. Further, in the four instances where the alien encounter occurs in the film, the unknowable alien does not appear altered; the encounter with humans may not have the s lightest impact on the alien or be perceived by the alien as anything analogous to the least importance. Rather, the alien encounter results in undeniably swift and radical changes for the human characters. For example, in
29 sequence one, the meeting between monolith and humans results in Moon Watcher 55 acquiring the use of the bone active predators rather than unsuccessful and passive scavengers. The bone weapon also enables Moon tively murder the leader of the rival tribe and possess the water initiates his interstellar journey, which is fraught with a kind of vio lence in terms of sensory overload and ultimately 56 I assume the alien space of the Jupiter Room in the last sequence is indeed an alien repr esentation. But why is the environment so recognizably human and the alien so visibly lacking? Why does the alien construct the Jupiter Room in the first place? Surely it is not for the more conventional and human purposes of contact or communication. 57 Aft er a n imaginative and unique journey, Bowman finds himself in what may be an extraterrestrial menagerie that may have been constructed for him from his own memories for the purpose of observing him and initiating his metamorphosis. The reasons or motives f or doing so if indeed the alien possesses anything analogous to motivation remain unknown. The implications of the alien encounter are paramount in 2001 especially what the encounter suggests about the alien/human dichotomy. If the monolith represents th e alien when Bowman physically a nd mentally enters the Jupiter monolith, we would expect him to enter into an alien world, landscape, or space. But, most emphatically, he does not. 2001 ends not with alien entities or disclosure about their purpose in bri nging Bowman to the Jupiter Room, but with Bowman himself as the Star Child gazing in
30 recondite wonder and maybe terro r at his home planet. Significantly, the alien encounter izably something from the seventeenth century, with gray blue walls, French Provincial chairs and tables, 58 Why a seventeenth century room for a twenty first century astronau t? Why a human space at all? Kolker comments on the use of a wide angle lens in the final sequence to create a distorting wide angle lens, enforc[e] a sense of reality that could not actually exist outside the film. Viewed, but by whom, other than us [the film viewers]? Finally, returning to the original point of view shot from inside the pod, we now see Bowman himself standing wanders: extraterrestrial beings? 59 (The music and sounds on the soundtrack are a mixture anxiety producing music o f perceptions of this scene are emphasized by the way Kubrick tricks us by playing on the standard cinematic conventions of the shot/reverse shot, in which we see the character and then what the character sees. Instead, in each reverse shot in the reverse. Bowman looks at Bowman and we [film viewers] at him: at dinner, breaking a glass, alone, and dying, then seemingly reborn through the monolith, character looking at something or someone else, but the character seeing, instead, only himself. (610)
31 Thus, one answer as to who is viewing Bowman i n this sequence is Bowman and not an alien presence as he undergoes a bizarre, incomparable transformation. The alien presence does exist in the last sequence as suggested by the presence of the monolith and rather than explicit. More importantly, the effe ct of the alien encounter on humans in this last sequence is undeniable. Kolker interprets 2001 linear and representing a cycle. 60 Perhaps in his search for the alien, man can only un derstand and ultimately discover himself. 61 One of the most significant implications of the alien/human dichotomy in 2001 is the impossibility of human understanding in the alien encounter. Unable to comprehend or make sense of this experience, man becomes cognizant of his inescapable subjectivit y and epistemological limit fetus entrapped doomed to exist in a subjective prison of his own ma king ( i.e., the Jupiter Room). An awareness of this essential alienation and isolation, however, is only possible given the and this is probably not speculation alone in the un In an important book length study titled A Cinema of Loneliness the second edition of which was published about twenty years before the above essay appeared in Film Analysis : A Reader Rob ert Kolker examines ideology in representative films of five American auteurs : Arthur Penn, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Robert Altman. Kolker devotes significant attention to 2001 in the Kubrick chapter,
32 2001 in this chapter elucidates the Film Analysis dichotomy in 2001 space in the film the space the human characters inhabit, and alien space, the space that opposes human [the film viewe rs] learn more about a character from the way that character [including the both directors exempli 62 Kolker further more opaque and intra 83). The same can be said of 2001 and Solaris : the more one sees the alien monolith and the Solaris Ocean or alien guests the more opaque and intractable what is seen becomes. Further, i as in 2001 and Sol aris Consider the objective point of view shots in the last Jupiter Room sequence in 2001 In most fil ms, shots like these would reveal the point of view of another character observing Bowman the alien entity, for instance (87). However, Bowman does not perceive no true reverse shot possible, for there is no one [emphasis mine] looking at
33 in the Jupiter Room. Kubrick represents the alien/human dichotomy in such a way that the re is an atypical role reversal for a science fiction film: the human rather than the alien becomes the marginalized other. A lth ough the Jupiter Room is clearly constructed by t he same alien intelligence that manufactured the monolith, t here is apparently nothing alien about or in the In addition, Kolker discusses in detail the passivity of men and women in 2001 which has some bearing on the alien/human dichotomy especially if the alien can be see n as the aggressive agent and humans as passive recipients. The Jupiter Room sequence makes no attempt to resist the transformation and he noticeably fails to demonstrate any emotional reaction to his transformation The Star Child 2001 and we can add in Solaris appe ar helpless and confined before a greater alien power. Essays in The Science Fiction Film Reader focus on influential science fiction films, and one section is devoted specifically to 2001 In his introduction, editor Gregg ). Wessel proposes that unconventional science fiction films like 2001 and Solaris mysterium tremendum our sense
34 experiences of a hidden or transcendent reality Wessel derives his idea from the German theologian Rudolph Otto, who once wrote: The truly mysterious object is beyond our apprehension and comprehension, not only because our knowledge has c ertain irremovable limits, but because in it we come upon something wholly other, whose kind and character are incommensurable with our own, and before which we therefore recoil in a wonder that strikes us chill and numb. (182) Carlos Clarens in An Illus trated History of Horror and Science Fiction Films notes a similar effect fear horrified by the horror film, and fear, no matter how diluted or sublimated, is still a powerful instrument and the m ost intense reaction to an experience, aesthetic or to exorcize, to ) fear, exemplary science fiction films have the equal ability to fear of the unkn own, of the alien, of the incomprehensible. Moreover, if a horror film has the primary effect of inducing fear, science fiction films like 2001 and Solaris capably ind uce wonder and awe, requisites ( conception. In other words, t he effects of horror films and science fiction films are related but quite different, and the effects of unconventional science fiction films are analogous to Rudolph Wessel inctly Western 183). In films like 2001 and Solaris could suggest the limits of human comprehension especially in regard to the alien and the cosmos. 63 According to Wessel, whether it is reductive sc ience or obscurantist religion,
35 s evolved in and adapted to a small island of order within a vast sea of unfathomable events and impenetrably Solaris same can be said for the monolith in 2001 concluding the film. The critic considers the ending of 2001 mysterium really permits no simple allegorical clo conjectures that having everything explained or resolved at the end of the film would not let alone to Kubrick himself. This failure of human cognition in 2001 accords w ith the thinking of the author, Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote in a short essay t which also appears in The Science Fiction Film Reader of the Universe, and with powers and forces g monolith in 2001 Wessel cites Thomas Nelson, author of the biography Kubrick: In side assumes a cle f creative fallibility [Kubrick] Mystery Beyond eludes his grasp as well (188). film to
36 trivialize .a transcendent, numinous meaning, an event that can only take place in a zone beyond our historical understanding, against the however, Kubr ick inevitably perhaps life or the alien behind the mystery of the monolith as Bowman and the viewer expects but o nly Bowman himself, the image of man Despite the strangeness of the artificial setting, an alien set or representation, the Jupiter Room as previously noted is a distinctly recognizable and domesticated human space: a bedroom complete with lavatory, etc. Eve n silverware, dishes, and dinner are provided along with clothing like The Jupiter Room is not remotely alien, but may be reconstructed from So laris Nor is the final image anything but human or an alien/human synthesis in both 2001 and Solaris The only alien Bowman encounters in his outer and inner space odyssey is himself. The same is true at the end of Solaris when K elvin believes he has land ed at home on Earth. The camera pans back to reveal that Kelvin has actually landed on an island in the Solaris Ocean, genuflecting before the image of his father and seemingly imprisoned by his own subjective illusions much like Bowman is imprisoned as th e fetus at the end of 2001 Since Wessel construes the Jupiter Room sequence as the setting where an alien encounter occurs in 2001 he is interested ( like Robert Kolker ) in the effects this
37 encounter has on the human. 64 on to the alien erally shak[es] with terror some overmastering mind operating behind the surfaces or within the interior s of things. Call it the hidden deity, the extraterrestrial intelligence, th e absolute other; the name is not as possible explanation of why Bowman is shaking in that se quence; indeed, there is no outward indication Bowman experiences anything like fear or terror. Perhaps Bowman shakes for the very natural explanation of the vast intergalactic journey he has just undertaken presumably a journey no one has undertaken befor e in human history. The physical re percussions of such a unique journey may have some effects on a human traveler. Additionally, Wessel offers some insight on the non d iegetic music, Johann Thus Spoke Zarathustra which con cludes the film 65 Since the film viewer heard mysterium tremendum what the critic perceives as the major thematic concern of the film Alternatively, it is mysterium tremendum 66 Thus Spoke Zarathustra parodies the music to parody and thus ironically undermine the gravity or seriousness of the final sequence in 2001 : alternatively, it is not the mysterium tremendum that is being evoked but which is being ridiculed at the end of the film.
38 The perceptive critic conclud es by proposing the major and mundane themes of Solaris uncaring or actively hos tile univer thinking and language analogous to constitute s (199) an illusion that Kelvin ex pe riences first hand at the end of Solaris Screening Space is an extensiv e historical study providing thematic and social analysis of American science fiction films especially from the 1 950s 1970s. One of the first references in this pioneering study that has bearing here is a refutation of Karl mysterium tremendum as Wessel associates the idea with the mystery of the alien or cosmos in the preceding entry For instance, Sobchack could not find it in himself to interpret the ambiguously presented Monolith [in 2001 ] as anything other than an empirically based device, despite all the transcendental and religious connotations with which the film surrounds it ( view that the monolith in 2001 and, we may as well add, the sentient Ocean in Solaris should be interpreted exclusively as a literal symbol of the alien or as representing only useful functions diminishes the mystery and s ignificance of a complex symbolic abstraction, Vivian Sobchack is too reductive for failing to consider the
39 On the other hand Sobchack 2001 planets, moons, and monoliths, we do leap forward visually into the unknown by the ck seems to concur with Stanley alignment of the Sun, Moon, and Earth, or of Jupiter and its moons, was used throughout [ 2001 ] as a premonitory image of a leap forward into t though, it is not the mysterium tremendum the mystical, or the awesomely alien that 2001 and Solaris represent. Along with David Bowman and Kris Kelvin, the film viewers do not leap forward into the unknown so much as leap b ack into the known, the strangely familiar, the human. It is the human condition or identity that is referenced at the end of 2001 and Solaris as opposed to the truly alien alien frequently in science fiction films, the alien becomes trivialized. Although escaping ence ficti on or any genre for that matter, the success of many science fiction films including 2001 and Solaris depend on maintaining the suspension of disbelief 67 and a discretely represented alien/human dichotomy up to a point. But our anthropocentric lim its are neve r surpassed even in ( or despit e) thoughtful science fiction films like 2001 and Solaris Although 2001 and Solaris are complex films with intricate, speculativ e complications of the alien/human dichotomy, the films ultimately underscore the ant hropocentric conception
40 such as the Star Child does at the close of 2001 it is necessary to point out that the rather than alien form in both 2001 and Solaris Sobchack quotes 9 3) as if such a thing were possible or even, for that matter, desirable. Film critic Raymond Durgnat explains in a light hearted tone: It is hard enough to understand certain assumptions of the Samoans, the Balinese or the Americans, and all but impossible to empathize into the perceptions of, say, a boa constrictor. How much more difficult then to identify with the notions of, say, the immortal twelve sensed telepathic polymorphids whose natural habitat is the ammonia clouds of Galaxy X7? (93) dmission of the impossibility of understanding the alien or indeed even the culturally alien but quite human can be read as satirizing those science fiction films which make absurd attempts to humanize the alien. The humanization of the alien renders the a lien ridiculous and familiar in less successful science fiction films. The difference between conventional science fiction films and unconventional science fiction films like 2001 and Solaris can be explained thus: conventional science fiction films automa tically assume the alien to be human; that is, they take the alien for granted. On the other hand, unconventional and more sophisticated science fiction films like 2001 and Solaris do not take the alien for granted. The latter films suggest the impossibili ty of escaping the anthropocentric ima gination while simultaneously interrogating our ability to transcend the human. Screening Space ascribes the trivialization of the alien in science fiction cinema to a general lack of subjective alien point of view sho ts (93); in conventional films, the point
41 of view shots are entirely or almost entirely focalized through human characters. 68 But the use of a subjective alien point of view can be noted in 2001 in the Jupiter Room when the alien creators of the monoliths o bserve Bowman and his transformation from the outside looking in on the human curiosity. Further, the unsettling, maybe even aliens communicating with one another in their own language. It is impossible to know whether the shrieks or sounds are diegetic or non diegetic. Conversely although the alien distinctly a human voice or voices and not alien. Even though unintelligible, the human voices undermine the notion that there is an alien presence in the last sequence. In other words, (93) of the Jupiter Room could be happen ing entirely in conscious ness. transformation in the Jupiter Room may seem ethereal on first viewing, but in actuality seas an like. Of course, the Earth like emphasis is, of course, a human emphasis : f or instance, one bizarre image in this sequence even resembles a sperm entering an ovum, thus representing human reproduc image especially foreshadows the imminent dissolution of the alien/human because it suggests hu or, perhaps, some synthesis of the two elements.
42 Ro arthur c. clarke a book of critical essays on the author, science fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey But s comparative analysis of the novel and film and expresses a number of insights about the film in particular. Plank inquires if there is only one monolith in the film appearing at various or strategic narrative points or if in fact there are a series of mo noliths, each one obviously related but separate objects (127). Plank wonders : think of a number of such objects scattered through the universe? The latter would be more plausible, the for The critic also interrogates t he anthropomorphic or geocentric nomenclature of en appearance [in 2001 ] is not of He proposes that a the novel and critics referred to the alien obje ct as a monolith, the name may not be as problematic, as it would be commonly understood that it serves the basic purpose of identifying an unnamable object. But a good question to ask is how do characters in the film refer to the monolith? 69 The succinct answer: as little as possible. For example, Dr. briefing and conversation with his scientific associates aboard the lunar shuttle in sequence two of 2001 seldom if ever refers to the alien object as a monolith. You guys have really come up with somet and then he asks a rhetorical question
43 rm of address characterize what limited references there are to the monolith in the film. In some sense, although at matter The use of circuitous language attests to the impossibility of naming, phrasing, referencing, or categorizing the alien. Rather than object one vaguely fami liar and therefore comprehensible. 70 Plank also considers the metaphoric or symbolic significance of the monolith. He associations] of [ 2001 ] are symbolized in the s look simply like girders. They immediately have to do with Mosaic tablets or druidical color but represents the absence of c inscrutability or absence of meaning. Plank traces the religious association of the monolith(s) bac k to a mystical dream of St. Exu pery, who once wrote: d God, to ask him the block of black granite which was God. I did not touch God, for a god who lets k of granite, dripping with a luminous rain, 71 remained, for me, impenetrable. ( 127 128) vague or vaguely defined in physical detail, and even amorphous, suggesting a mystery and fluidity of interpretive meanings. Even if one rejects the religious significance or metaphysical mysticism of the monolith and Solaris Ocean, one cannot discount the
44 symbolic potential of the monolith 72 and Ocean how so ever one interprets tha t symbolism Plank next offers a psychoanalytic reading of the alien in 2001 as a paternal figure (138). He notes the general lack of female characters in 2001 (or at least strongly individuated female characters) and attempts a gender analysis, but his an alysis is not as apropos here as is his paternal reading of the invisible alien. He points out that the destination of spaceship Discovery One Greco Roman mythology, and that the fourth sequence of the film i absurd or irrelevant but it is neither. Plank explains: determined not only by those qualities of those people as he objectively perceives them, but also by the experiences and fantasies relating to people he has encountered previously. The latter will often influence his image more powerfully than his objective perception do fantasies and experiences reach, the stronger their influence. The most crucial enduring influences are therefore those informed by the early relationship to o newly encountered people is life is not a mere series of unrelated episodes, but a coherent whole which we conceptualize, depending on our philosophical leanings, as the ma nifestation of In calling the aliens [in 2001 ] father figures I am saying that their character and role is formed, and the reaction to them determined, by molding them on the image of the father that has b een formed from childhood on. 73 between father and son normally is highly ambivalent. As a technical psychological term, ambivalence means the simultaneous and effective presence of positive and negative feelings, such as attraction and r epulsion, admiration and components are usually conscious, others unconscious. One side of the coin may be totally invisible a son may consciously feel nothing but love and admirati on for his father, with obverse completely repressed, but operative nonetheless in a crisis, even more operative for its being repressed. (138 139)
45 At the beginning of 2001 the early humans react with a good deal of ambivalence toward the alien object: f ear but also curiosity, the desire to run away fr om it but also to touch it, etc. Gradually t hey revere the object like an idol in the touching ritual. And like a paternal mentor, the monolith imparts some kind of new knowledge and experience to Moon Watch er, and, in a sense, provides for and even protects Moon Watcher ( and his tribe) with the new bone tool weapon. The monolith assumes a particularly paternal or provident role for early humans in the film Plank in 2001 can only go so far before it sinks, inevitably perhaps, into obscurity. Refreshingly, the critic acknowledges his own limitations and the shifting meanings of a film as complex as 2001 question how far one can go on without ta king the small but irrevocable step from the on wobbly ground, it may be because much of the so But in the end Plank regards the alie n encounter in 2001 negative ly. Like Robert Kolker 74 stupendous rush through the heavens and all that happens after Bowman tumbles into the mysterious hotel suite, man has complete Mario Falsetto considers 2001 detailed study is primarily concerned with the complex cinematic productions of 2001 career. 75 But special attention is devoted to 2001 and in the process
46 terms of the alien/human dichotomy. In his introduction, Falsetto cites Annette Michelson, who offers an insightful 2001 as ultimate agent of consciousness, represented in 2001 and Solaris so much as it is the human subject or perspective. Further, because 2001 and Solaris are self reflexive narratives, the question arises as to what the films are reflecting. One possible answer is the human In other words, the alien serves as a mirror reflecting the human image in 2001 and Solaris Falsetto claims that 2001 in 2001 and Solaris can be interpreted as the human spirit or nature venturing into and defining itself in relat ion to the alien or cosmos. S upport ing t his interpretation, Falsetto comments on the discrete human subjectivity at the end of 2001 : [ 2001 sequences, through a process that emphasizes character introspection. It is here and draw in the viewer in a way that amplifies the personal nature of the experience. All people can take the jou rney with Bowman and make it their own. through space) as well as archetypal (the journey r epresents the human journe y we all take from birth to aging to death or rebirth). A process o f identification with Bowman occurs in the specifically human environment of the Jupiter Room; it is the entire human species tha t undergoes transformation along w ith him.
47 (110) character a kind of tabula rasa film viewers can insert or rather inscribe the highest degree of subjectivity with an individual who can somehow stand in for all the viewers[;] [ 2001 ] achieves a mythopoeic level as a journey of discovery and renewal 76 111). For this reason, Bowman i n the final film sequence stands in for or represents the human species and, in this sense, constitutes the human in the alien/human dichotomy. 2001 subjective point of view is most significant in the final star gate and Star Child sequences bec ause it is the only time in the film where any subjective point of view excluding of Man and Moon segments, 2001 offers a largely objective mode of representation. I t moves through a transitional stage in part three aboard the Discovery toward a more subjective rendering. Part four, Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite, develops into a full Because of intense subjectivity in the penultimate sequence, in which Bowman journeys by pod ( or mind ) through the cosmos, alien point of view would seem to be de emphasized. anywhere else in the as it appears in multiple hues (46) suggests an extreme subjective or human point of view blinking eye recurs to remind the viewer of the importance of human perception and, most importantly, that it is the human doing the perceiving and not the alien. Even though
48 abstract representational the represented landscape could even be Earth or at least Earth like terra in. Thi s self referentiality emphasizes the human focus in the alien/human dichotomy. Falsetto notes see This act of seeing complicates the alien/human dichotomy, which would seem to contradict what Falsetto argued before. But Falsetto elaborates: The editing between macrocosmic and microcosmic v iews of the universe encourages a melding of individual subjectivity with the objective world. The becomes the universe. Or is the image of the universe merely the image of an eye? It makes no difference, because, metaphorically, the viewer [like Bowman] The landsc ape abstractions never lose their representational aspect; likewise, the breaks the representationa l link to the universe. No matter how abstract the images may appear, there is always a connection to the world as we know it [emphasis mine] (47) consisting of a recognizably hu and luxuriant hotel room
49 Although Bowman seems to se monolith at the end and points towards it, but the monolith does not appear in an alien shape or form unless the monoli th is the alien shape or form Falsetto sounds very simil ar to Robert Kolker in Film Analysis: A Norton Reader when point of view coding (a shot of a character looking, then a cut to what the character sees) absorption a reflexiveness that emphasizes the human throughout the film. Fugue Human nature or the emphasis on the human versus t he inhuman cosmos i s thematically Solaris is about. The authors note that Tarkovksy (102). Unlike 2001 which contains only one earth bound setting and sequence, e hardly concerned with love or earthly beauty Johnson and Petrie stress Solaris deed, Kelvin is intimately associated with the sights and sounds of nature [in the first major sequence set on Earth] the ponds, the trees, the horse, and the dog, his
50 worl d with beautif ul artifacts of civilization. All these suggest a reluctance to spice box containing some earth and a plant. In the space station he finds that the scientists even the cynical Sartorius need to remind themselves of Earth in their sterile, man made environment. 77 (104) Solaris (102). Again in opposition to Kubrick, Tarkovsky represents Earth bound space 78 Even the alien Ocean on Solaris reflects the human emphasis in the way, as one film cting [the Solaris the space station most remarkably, b ut also the non diegetic music Prelude in F Minor ng the opening credits and recurs when Kelvin and Hari dance in the anti gravity scene in the library. The music in particular is nature, art, love while the alien and dehumanized setting of the space station itself is (108). The Prelude in F Minor also ( Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ ), connotes a sense of melancholy, reflection, and loss. The music is slowed down considerably in Solaris to evoke this quality and appropriately corresponds non diegetic music in Solaris comments ironically on the alien/human dichotomy: Kelvin and the Solarist cosmonauts have traveled vast interstellar distances to an o rbiting space station on an alien planet in order to study the sentient Ocean. The haunting Bach music repeatedly reminds the viewer of
51 alien planet as it is explori ng the alien mind of man. As a result of his encounter and romantic relationship with the alien simulacra Hari the first few sc the space sta associates him with the coldly geometric layout (circular on the outside, rectangular informal tie to Earth in opposition to the human but alienated setting of the space station. Johnson and Petrie also point out that the color brown is frequently associated with Earth and associates certain characters th its paintings [such as Brueg Hunter s in the Snow ] and other art objects, its fine furniture, china, glassware, Since most of Solaris point of view, s psychological motivations, including his This psychological concern at the heart of the film relates to another thematic preoccupation: y h is perhaps the one character in Solaris ). 79
52 Perhaps the most notable and significant consequence of the alien (Hari) and human (Kelvin) encounter in Solaris is the extent to which the alien transforms the human. In 2001 the effect of the monolith on humans is undeniable and ambivalent, both pos itive and negative, and I would argue the same for Solaris Johnson and Petrie radical personality altering and life altering change: Kris personal relationships, Kris remains remote and expressionless for much of the first half of the film and seems a worthy partner of Sartorius in his pursuit of abstract, scientific truth at all costs. Yet, on his first meeting, he finds Sartorius is to attempt to get rid of her, he se he shows himself for the first time emotionally dead who slowly and painfully comes back to moral life and learns to face the truth about himself. (104 105) o more responsive to pain as well as to love, and more active in attempting to find a solut ion to he has merely repeated it, and once again his lover has killed herself [multiple times] second and presumably final suicide are different, her final s redemptive one from which Kris is able to learn and to benefit, rather than a gesture of despair that drives him further into self absorption and self In contrast, I see Ha final suicide as precipitating just that K and inescapable descent into absorption and self the ending of Solaris as overwhelmingly positive and life affirming, whereas I view it
53 (and to speculate for a moment, Tarkovsky may have) as pessimist ic: considering what happens to Kelvin, the ending comments negatively on human nature or behavior. 80 In just l ike the preceding scene when Kelvin experiences a fever and dreams about his mother (110). Johnson and both scenes being equally are intended to parallel each other one providi ng a failed reconciliation, the other an (110). However, Johnson and Petrie admit the ambiguity of ending opens up a number of interpretative possibilities. The ending (which presents the dacha as now apparently part of the Solaris Ocean) is, however, extremely enigmatic and open to multiple interpretations. Has Kris really physically returned home, or is he still on Solaris, with the Ocean compensating for his loss of Hari by giving him a different kind of emotional fulf Or is the scene largely metaphorical, providing the kind of imaginative reconciliation found so of has at last learned to express, and accept, love and forgiveness? Another possibility picking up on the burning fire, the dangling balloon, and the metal box (seen in the last scene on Solaris and t hen already within the house as Kris supposedly returns), and on the existence of the edition of Don Quixote and the Greek bust both on the station and in the dacha is to see his whole journey as purely subjective and interior. Things on Earth are almost e xactly as he left them because he never did leave; no time has passed because no physical journey took place. Yet the p the house. As in the ending of other films, Tarkovksy no doubt purposely mixes the clues he provides for interpretation. (105 106)
54 C hapter 3: Analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Of the four primary sequences, narrative divisions, or structural units in 2001 1. 81 sugge stions of an alien encounter occur briefly in sequences one and two and more extensively in four. The alien presence in the film corresponds with the timely appearances of the monolith, which plays an instrumental and symbolic role in constructing the alie n/human dichotomy. I will therefore concentrate in this chapter on the momentary, momentous, and specific scenes in 2001 where the monolith materializes and apparently interacts with the human characters; in the process, I will analyze the literal and symb olic significance of the alien monolith and the effects it has on humans For ease of reference, I will consider the first and second film sequences together and the fourth sequence separately. I will also focus in my analysis on cinematic techniques such as the establishing shot and other shots or cinematographic effects, settings, point of view, and non diegetic music. I aim to explore in this chapter possible responses to such related questions as: When do the monoliths appear in 2001 and for what purpo se? How is the alien represented or not represe nted? How are human characters or how is humanity in general represented? What do these representations imply about the alien/human dichotomy? How does 2001 complicate and, in the fourth
55 sequence the most phil ultimately destabilize the alien/human dichotomy? The evocative opening images of 2001 introduce ideas that are important for the alien/human dichotomy and the rest of the film. The film begins with an establishing shot in space looking toward the Moon, Earth, and finally the Sun as these astronomical bodies align in auspicious formation a recurring image in 2001 From the beginning of the film Earth or the human locale is emphasized and not the alien or an alien world. However, the point of view could be alien or from an alien spaceship, since humans at this point in geological time consist of hirsute ape men and women who have not developed rudimentary tec hnology and are therefore incapable of conceiving their world as a plan et rotating in the void of space. 82 The point of view in the establishing shot invites meditation on outer space inner space, the res t of the film is concerned. In addition, the alien point of view observ ing Earth, Moon, and Sun contrasts in the next few images with the world of primordial humans: Earth about four million years ago. The two points of view could not be more discrete. The Moon looms gigantic, then the Earth, and finally the S un. With the camera suspended in space ( and time ) non diegetic Thus Spoke Zarathustra (now so recognizably associated with 2001 ) 83 play. Tension is generated by the opening chords along with a sense of the unknown and cosmic mystery. However, other than suggesting an alien point of view in the establishing shot, the idea of
56 an alien or alien presence vanishes in the next series of primordial images revealing the d esola te and barren landscape of early humans. This is a world distinctly void of an alien or alien presence; instead, it is a setting where early humans constitute an inconsequential, passive, and weak species, one that may well be on the threshold of exti nction despite the ironic sequence title. 84 The sound of wind blowing, raven cries, fragmentary (human) skeletal remains and the pile of animal bones littering the ground where the ape men (Australopithecines) scavenge with the tapirs illustrate the brute realities of survival, ever present mortality, and the looming threat of extinction. The alien does not intervene in the affairs or world of early humans, perhaps because it is unaware of or indifferent to humans. Instead, the alien presence which plays su ch an important role in catalyzing human evolution leaves early humans to fend unsuccessfully for themselves a t the very beginning of 2001 human condition is) like both before an d after human beings encounter the alien monolith. Unable to control their environment or fate, humans live an undeniably passive existe nce at the beginning of 2001 85 One of the early humans in the opening sequence can merely growl and push away a scavengi ng tapir in a frustrated attempt to drive the animal off. Expressing a sense of powerlessness, the growl provides a n aural thematic link to the next scene at the waterhole, where Moon Watcher and his tribe are repulsed by the established and demonstrative tribe. The leopard fearlessly hunts early humans, who are soft targets incapable of defen ding themselves The apprehension of the early humans in their cave at night is apparent as they huddle together listening to the s ounds of the foraging leopard; o nce again in futile despair, one of the ape men in the cave growls in
57 protest at the leopard, unable to do an ything about his circumstances. A close up shot of one of the ape men in the cave shows him looking off ambiguously in the distance and up toward the n ight sky. It could be that he gazes in fear, overwhelmed by ubiquitous terrors; or it could be a look of wonder since he may actually perceive the alien ship or monolith landing in the vicinity. nce Moon Watcher wakes to discover the monolith planted vertically almost within reach. Smooth, black, inaccessible, geometrically proportioned the monolith is clearly not an object fashioned by early humans. Moon Watcher first reacts to the object as some thing he does not as prey, he may perceive the object as some kind of unknown predator. The deliberate p ositioning (or to use the cinematic technique, blocking) of the monolith indicates a purpose an unknowable purpose that resonates throughout the film. 86 Because Moon Watcher and his tribe wake up near the monolith just outside their cave entrance, the monolith or its creators must have caused their unconsciousness. Why else would the ape men be sleeping outdoors during the night when the leopard hunts them? They were shown huddling in their cave the night before. The fact that Moon Watcher and his tribe are asleep could also represent that early humans are metaphorically asleep again, in a passive rather than active state. 87 Moon Watcher wakes the recumbent tribe by stamping his foot as a warning and they touch the alien object, reacting to it first with fear and then cautious curiosity. At this initial point the non dieg
58 Ligeti music cues the viewer that the monolith is strange, ethereal, alien not only for Moon Watcher and t ribe but for the film viewer. The music draws attention to the eerie encounter between the comprehensively human and the incomprehensively non human or alien. However tentatively at first, by touching the monolith, the ape men try to understand, through h uman senses, that the monolith does not pose a threat; they lose their fear and probably soon afterward interest in the object. 88 But considering the Ligeti music, the act of touching the monolith becomes something of a religious experience for Moon Watcher and his tribe. In this instance the monolith can be read as not only a literal representation of the alien, but also as a symbol of spiritual tr anscendence. At the acme of this religious experience, the touching/reverence ritual, a low angle shot portray s the sun appearing over the rim of the amplified and awesome monolith in the foreground. Then, almost as abruptly as the monolith materializes, there is utter silence followed by the dis appearance of the alien object. Sequence one confirms the literal, or iginal reality of the monolith. Critics who propose the monolith exists only symbolically find their position untenable especially ape men and lunar scientists clearly react to the monolith. There is no reason to believe that the diegetic object is somehow different in physical appearance from the one the film viewer apprehends. Considering the physical properties of the monolith and the fact that ape men and lunar scientists not only see the object but touch it, the monolith does not exist merely as an abstract symbol. One purpose of the monolith in the first sequence may be to interact with early humans and impress them with the technological knowledge that ultimately advanc es their evolution. Of course, the reason(s) why an alien intelligence
59 would send an object to a distant planet i e volutionary potential remains unanswered 89 More significantly, what has transpired in the first sequence as a result of the alien encounter? Although there is no definitive answer, it is evident early humans undergo a profound transformation after touching the monolith. And there is no denying that technological knowledge is imparted or implanted by the alien mon olith. One important close up shot shows Moon Walker holding the antelope bone and vaguely wondering if it has some further use. Kubrick immediately cuts to a low angle shot of the monolith to reinforce the idea that knowledge of the bone as tool comes fro m the alien monolith. The close up shot is problematic because it is impossible to determine whether this is an objective shot of the monolith perhaps the monolith literally transmits via some kind of telepathy the idea of using the bone to Moon Watcher f rom its location near the cave entrance or whether this is a subjective point of view shot from inside Moon mind in the sense he recalls the monolith from memory. At the precise moment, the opening chords of Thus Spoke Zarathustra play music the viewer auspicious beginning. Because the establishing shot of the film is likely from an alien perspective, the music in this parti cular scene can be associated along with the Ligeti chorus with the alien monolith. In sum, the alien mon olith is directly responsible for Moon Watcher picking up the bone and using it as a tool weapon, an evolutionary leap forward for early humans that will completely transform them As a result of this alien induced discovery a kind of evolutionary eureka m oment the alien in 2001 can be viewed as a provident or benevolent figure or at least as a mentor imparting enduring knowledge, the use of technology, for early humans. The
60 alien monolith dramatically facilitates human evolution ; 90 i n this sense, the alien monolith emancipates early humans from their passive state and gives them control over their environment and fate. As a result of the alien encounter, Moon Watcher and his tribe do not fear the leopard; they are shown in the next cut outside their cave at night. Moon Watcher and tribe go from being passive prey and scavengers to active predators and carnivores. The alien monolith has also given Moon Watcher and tribe a will to power and a technological means, the bone tool weapon, to realize this will to po wer. 91 Moon Watcher and tribe drive off the rival tribe at the waterhole by killing the rival alpha male with their new weapon. Not irrelevantly, the first ape man to touch the monolith, Moon Watcher, becomes the new leader; he is also the first to eat raw meat from a hunt and the first to strike the rival alpha male, in both instances utilizing the new bone weapon. Moon Watcher is also shown walking noticeably erect in the waterhole murder/conquest scene, revealing his newly discovered confidence and indica ting a locomotive leap forward on the human evolutionary scale. Similarly, the technological leap forward is suggested in the famous slow motion jump cut of Moon Watcher hurling his bone h uman spaceship four million years later in the present of the film. 92 Like the refrain in a song, the establishing shot in sequence two mirrors the establishing shot in sequence one: the point of view once again is from space facing Earth. However, this time the establishing shot is not from an alien point of view because does not rematerialize until the lunar scene where Dr. Heywood Floyd and his fellow scientists pause for an historical group photo opportunity beside the recently excavated
61 lunar monolith. Perhaps the monolith does not appear again for such a long period of hum an history because it has profoundly catalyzed are no longer needed until humans are technologically ready for another momentous chang e. With the stunning elision of human history, 2001 seems to suggest that what has happened between Moon lunar visit is relatively insignificant. As in the first sequence, the second sequence suggests the inexplicability of the alien. The setting of the second alien encounter also contrasts with the first: instead of a desolate if familiar Earth in sequence one, the end of sequence two occurs on the eerie and alien moonscape. 93 As in the first sequence, the second seque nce reinforces the discrete alien/human states The second sequence further substantiates the monolith as a literal object: again it can be seen and touched, but this time it emits a piercing signal that cue which cues the viewer that the alien monolith is nearby, Dr. Floyd and his group in their spa cesuits stand gazing intently at the lunar monolith at the top of the moon ramp in what most likely is a point of view shot from the monolith. Dr. Floyd leads, just as Moon Watcher led his tribe in the waterhole murder/conquest scene; the men slowly descen d the ramp, where there is a second point of view shot from the monolith of the human group approaching. An over the shoulder point of view shot from the men approaching the monolith alternates the point of view and underscores the alien/human dichotomy. T he group cautiously approaches the monolith in an image paralleling the earlier scene when Moon Watcher and his tribe cautiously approach the monolith; a curious Dr. Floyd and his group circle the monolith to make sure it is safe.
62 Then, just as Moon Watche r had done before him four million years ago, Dr. Floyd runs his hand down the smooth monolith in an attempt to understand the object by tactile sense Due perhaps to an other solar light, and Floyd 94 the lunar monolith emits a piercing radio signal. At this precise moment, the low angle shot of the sun appearing over the top of the foregrounded, amplified monolith is repeated, suggesting the unknowable mystery of the alien object. 95 As an aut omatic or automated relay system, the monolith perhaps sends a signal to the alien intelligence that humans have sufficiently evolved technologically at least because humans unearthed the lunar monolith. In other words, the lunar monolith points or guides man to the Jupiter monolith, acting as a kind of alien directional system s of the monolith or bring the makers of the monolith to humans. In sequences one and two, the alien monolith ac ts as a guide for humans (a guidance that has a profound and altering impact), represented. The difference between sequences one and two is that the alien mono lith seems to perform primarily an instrumental or literal purpose in sequence two, whereas the monolith performs a literal and symbolic purpose in sequences one and four. Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite The monolith in the fourth sequence initially acts as a star gate for David Bowman to travel through in order to meet or not meet the alien creators of the monolith. At the conclusion of the sequence, the alien monolith appears to be the primary
63 comes a cosmic nursery for the Star Child 96 Like sequence one, the monolith in sequence four has a two useful function(s); and a second that implies a complex symbolism It i s in the fourth sequence that the chances of encountering the alien in 2001 seem to be the greatest even if it is an implicit rather than explicit encounter. 97 But Kubrick ironically undermines expectations: the fourth sequence eludes not only the alien en c ounter but narrative exposition or causal logic. Finally, the fourth sequence is one of the most visually complex and philosophically suggestive sequence s in 2001 and in the science fiction film ge nre The establishing shot in the fourth sequence is once again from outer space, the falling bone tool weapon. 98 Once again the non diegetic Ligeti chorus suggests the presence of the alien monolith and its recondite nature. Gradually the camera stabilizes a nd focuses on yet another or third monolith 99 slowly rotating in the gravity field between Jupiter and one of its moons. The alien is no where rendered explicit in sequence four; instead, as in the other sequences, Bowman and the film viewer experience a re presentation of the alien i n monolith form. A key recurring image depicts the mysterious conjunction of Jupiter, its moons, the Sun, and, as in sequence two, a human object, a spaceship (this time Discovery One ). The image parallels the establishing shots of sequences one and two and cues the viewer that yet another significant change is imminent for humans as a result of the alien encounter. A deep focus shot reveals the solitary and appropriately named spaceship Discovery moving toward the monolith. The sequence begins with Bowman inside the
64 space pod approaching the suspended monolith, which now has a reflective quality since it reflects the nearby planet Jupiter and some of its moons. Unlike sequence one where the subjective point of view seems to be mo stly the ape view can be seen in the shots showing the exterior of Discovery exits the ship, and then, after the ai monolith. 100 shots from inside the pod as he appro aches the rotating monolith; further, the reaction shots in the star gate sequence are mostly is not exclusive in the fourth sequence. Alternating points of view occur throughout the fourth sequence and create confusion or, eventually, a kind of fusion of the two discrete perspective s. As Bowman approaches the Jupiter monolith, the alien object becomes momentarily suffused with a bluish white light and then opens like a portal into a universal, alien designed transit system. Again unlike sequences one and two, Bowman literally enters the monolith in the fourth sequence, foreshadowing his final entrance in to the monolith in the Jupiter room. But the monolith in the fourth sequence also serves a Room, cus tom built for Bowman by the alien. Like sequence one, where the monolith indicates an alien visitation to prehistoric Earth, and sequence two, where the monolith functions as an alien communication system, the literal monolith in this sequence is dynamic, creating an expectation that this sequence will conclude with some explanation of the alien and its purpose in interacting with humans at two distant stages of human
65 evolution. G iven th e spectacular visuals, accompanying auditory cues, and the dramatic pre sence of the monolith in the fourth sequence, the film viewer expects a final alien human encounter where, at last, the alien will be revealed, the mystery explained, and the ending clearly resolved. In typical Kubrick fashion, 2001 es none of these things. The juxtaposition of the alien and human is most prominent in the star gate and Jupiter Room scenes The mo nolith vanishes or merges rather into the intergalactic the miniscule space polychromatic close ups is presumably alien 101 Bowman stares in wide eye wonder at the awesome and overwhelming images The spectral image of Bowman fr ozen in time alternates with t he extreme close ups of his eye and conveys a sense of the incalculable speed Bowman is traveling and the incomprehensible complexity and enormity of the alien technology that designed the star gate The vertical frame of refe rence of the changes to a horizontal position, suggesting that even light or the color spectrum perceived by human vision in the tunnel is refracted or warped due to the incredible velocity. The diegetic sound in this sequence of the pod moving through the tunnel is equally important in conveying verisimilitude and a sense of the astounding speed at which Bowman travels. Although the tunnel sequence takes only a few minutes of actual screen time, the human conception of space a nd ti me is seriously challenged or undermined when Bowman enters the tunnel Where exactly is Bowman in space and time inside the star gate ? It is impossible to know anything for sure. From whose point of view
66 does the film viewer e xperience t he images and sounds of the star gate sequence? The extreme close stars, or star nebulae in remote galaxies. In amorphous ink blot like images that can take a subjective perception, one particular image of a star or star nebulae bears a close resemblance to a human (perhaps 102 Yet another anthropomorphized image appears th a tail like formation trailing behind it into s ome kind of stellar nebulae, closely resembling a sperm entering into and impregnating an o vum. The latter image suggests sexual fertilization and moreover foreshadows birth at the en d as the Star Child In addition to changing color schemes, the tunnel reveals presumably alien forms, such as the eight sided objects that appear on the top left and right of the frame reason for the appearance of th ese objects remains unknown, although they could be part star gate On the other hand, there is nothing particularly alien about the geometric figures. The series of landscape images or over head shots which next flood the screen as colored landscapes could represent alien worlds. Again, however, the landscapes are not truly alien; although they appear to Bowman and the film viewe r in unearthly colors, the rivers, cliffs, valleys, mountains, and ocean 103 are recognizably from Earth or are at least Earth like. Confusion stems from the problematic, unstable, and unreliable point of view. Is Bowman and the film viewer perceiving the lan in other words, is this how the landscapes appear to the alien? Are these the colors the alien perceive s ? Is
67 this the alien perception of various landscapes of planet Earth as filtered through rnatively, does Bowman and the film viewer perceive in these images alien worlds or perhaps the alien home planet of view? The uncertainty of point of view complicates the discrete alien/human dichotomy. At this point in the film, a violin chord or violin like instrument can be heard, although whether the sound is diegetic is impossible to know. The sound is discordant and not rhythmic as it would be in a formal composition; it later precedes the similarly cacophonous sounds heard wit why a recognizably human musical instrument is inserted at this moment in the soundtrack cannot be coincidental or insignificant. Kubrick may include recognizable geometric forms, terrene landscapes, and classical sounds for the same reason one star cluster resem bles a human eye and another human reproduction : to emphasize the human, to downplay the alien, in a sequence where one expects the alien to be ascendant and be revealed. The violin disappears and is replaced by but it will ret urn in the Jupiter Room scene The alien monolith also significantly returns for one last appearance in 20 01 gran finale the Jupiter Room. Once again the monolith interacts with the human, in this case a human representative, Bowman, and again it causes a profound human change. It is important to note that the Jupiter Room not only represents the alien, it is the only setting the alien constructs in the entire film. 104 Sequences one, two, and three take place in essentially manufactured human settings the exception of course being space The Jupiter Room is the ideal location for an alien encounter. The settin g is further
68 complicated because even though the Jupiter Roo m is an artificial alien locale constructed for the purpose of observing Bowman or recreating him into another life form, it is also very human. 105 Since the fourth sequence concludes with the union of the alien and human, the contradictory setting of the Jupiter Room makes thematic sense. 106 The extreme close up in the star gate actually initiates the Jupiter Room sequence. Bowm into the Jupiter Room at once strangely familiar and unfamiliar. In other words, the Jupiter Room clearly represents an earthly human space, but it is not what Bowman and the f ilm viewer expects to find after his intergalactic trip. Another presumably alien point of view shot centers on Bowman shivering inside his pod from the physical shock of his e room at the bed, etc. is also alien since Bowman has not yet left the pod. In addition to point of view, the alien presence seems to be implied by presumably alien voices which can now be heard on the soundtrack 107 whispering? Discussing Bowman? So promine nt in creating a kind of sound dialogue between the alien (voices) and human ( breathing). As suggested by the use of auditory cues and musical soundtrack, sou nd may be ju st as important as point of view for representing and complicating the alien/human dichotomy in 2001 he looks out of the pod and sees himself (Bowman Number Two) standing in fu ll space suit. 108 It is important to note that the first and maybe last being Bowman encounters in
69 the Jupiter Room is not an alien but himself. The curious subjective/objective point of is merging with Bowman is the one who sees himself (subjectively) but simultaneously he looks at tinue on th e soundtrack, suggesting that the alien observes Bowman, his behavior, actions, and Bowman. What is happening in this scene? Does Bowman witness and experience the stages of human life reversed perhaps from middle age to old age to birth? Are these The next objective shot shows Bowman (Number Two) aging since his hair has turned gr ey and his face bears wrinkles. Bowman Number Two walks toward the statue in the room wonderingly; the camera pans the bed, the paintings, and bath tub. The room has presumably been created to make Bowman feel at home, but because the alien designed it, th e room is invested with a sense of indefinable strangeness 109 confounding both Bowman a nd the film viewer The incomprehensible alien voices continue in the background, and then Bowman gazes at himself, visibly aging, in the mirror, at which reathing becomes prominent once again and the sound of dripping water from the faucet can be heard. The mirror image is of particular philosophical significance because it reflects Bowman himself a human rather than an alien image. In the adjacent room w ith the bathtub and mirror, Bowman looks into the bedroom and sees himself (Bowman Number Three), 110 aged once again but in a comfortable black bed robe, seated at a table, and enjoying a meal. The elder Bowman at
70 the table looks up and walks over to the bed room door as if conscious he is being observed by something or something, but all traces of his former self (Bowman Number Two) vanish. The complicated objective/subjective, alien/human dichotomy is represented with unusual point of view shots, but this ti me no alien voices can be heard on the soundtrack. There is absolute silence. Bowman glances around as if haunted by something he cannot recall or perhaps cannot understand; seeing nothing but the rooms, he turns back to his meal. Where have the alien voic es gone? Only the clinking sounds of wine glass, which breaks into pieces on the floor. A metaphorical prop, the shattered mation: he will be broken down or shattered like the wine glass and reconstituted in a new form. The breaking of the wine glass symbolizes change and a new state of life or existence for Bowman. mphatic breathing resumes. Bowman turns toward the bed and sees himself (Bowman Number Four) in an advanced state of age. In fact, the oldest Bowman lies supine in bed, head completely shaved, and dressed in white, the latter details suggesting he is some kind of initiate in a religious ceremony. Bowman Number Four appears to be near death. It is at this point the monolith appears for the first time in the Jupiter Room in front of the bed, but unlike the other monolith appearances in the film, the alien aud itory cue in terms of the Ligeti music cannot be heard. The musical absence destabili zes narrative expectations previously a ssociating the monolith with the alien. Hand trembling either from advanced age or excitement, Bowman (Number Four) points toward th e monolith. Like Moon Watcher and Dr. Floyd before him, Bowman desires to touch the alien object. Does
71 Bowman recognize the monolith or its meaning? Is he pointing toward the alien object as a plea for help, because he recognizes it as the alien source whi ch he has been seeking since he entered the star gate or because he is awed and overwhelmed by the object? There simply is no way to ascertain answers to these questions. The next cut is of Bowman (Number Five), now an embryo or what many critics call th e Star Child, inside an alien bubble or womb of some kind on top of the bed. The Star Child lies on its back just as the aged Bowman did before him in a passive or receptive state. The camera zooms into the interior of the monolith, which becomes the black ness of space. Like the low angle shots of the sun appearing over the top of the monolith in previous sequences, the cinemato graphy suggests that the monolith is more than just a literal manifestation of the alien: it is a symbol invested with abstruse mea nings. This particular shot could suggest among many other possibilities that the m onolith is a symbol of space ( or is space itself ) the mysteries of the cosmos, all that eludes human comprehension or is uncertain and unknowable (suc h as life or the meani ng of existence ), and/or the mysteries of human origin, evolution, birth, life, and death. The non diegetic opening chords of Thus Spoke Zarathustra which the film viewer last heard when Moon Watcher experienced his eureka moment with the bone tool weapon now plays, signaling yet another alien influence and consequent change for the human characters. The exterior establishing shot of 2001 in sequence one also recurs: the Earth and Moon loom first followed by the illuminating Sun. This time, however, propo rtionate to (on a gigantic scale) and juxtaposed with the Earth, the Star Child rises in a bubble or some kind of protective casing The final image of the fi lm is
72 metacinematic in that the Star Child looks directly at the camera and the film viewer where as the film viewer simultaneously stares directly at the in expressive Star Child The Star Child Kubrick seems to suggest with this image, is us the human form or being. On the other hand, the Star Child can be interpreted in a number of ways. Is it human inhuman, alien, an alien hybrid, or a new life form? Is it the next stage of human evolution, a kind of higher human or cosmic consciousness? Continuing with this line of questioning, what do its facial features express? Irony? Does it gaze in ironic con descension or bemusement? Or is it an expression of pure and naked Terror? Is the Star Child terrified of Earth and perhaps its new and incomprehensible existence? How about Wonder? Innocence? Renewal? Is it shown looming next to Earth to give visual scale is after all proportionate to Earth. 111 Is it trapped in its stellar womb like Bowman in the Jupiter Room menagerie or is the womb simply the birth or beginning of this awe some new being? However one interprets the ending of 2001 I find it especially significant that the end mirrors the beginning. The ending similarly emphasizes the Earth or returns to the image of the Earth just as it does the human (the new being is after all human in physical appearance at least). A kind of equivalence seems to be implied in the juxtaposition of Star Child and Earth: Star Child = Earth and Earth = Star Child ; they are one and the same. The argument has been presented that the Star Child a ppears to be a birth or rebirth of some kind for Bowman, which would render the ending positive, or an imprisonment, which would render the ending negative. I do not view the ending of 2001
73 as necessarily or categorically optimistic or pessimistic. Rather, the Jupiter Room sequence and the ending reflect the philosophical concerns of the film. 112
74 Chapter 4: Analysis of Solaris (1972) Unlike 2001 where the alien assumes the form of a physical object in the shape of the monolith, the alien is a sentient oceanic entity in Solaris Three scientists aboard the Solaris space station 113 study the Ocean (the study of scientific matters relevant to the exoplanet is known generally as Solaristics) in the hopes of establishing communication with or learning about t he alien life form. Contact comes but not in a form the human incarnations of various figures from their pasts. 114 These incarnations possess not only some memories of t the most successful incarnation independent thought, will, a nd a developing self awareness. Moreover, the incarnations sometimes horrifi 2001 where the alien/monolith appears only four times in the film an alien encounter occurs every time a guest appears in Solaris young Burton recounts the fir st encounter indirectly in his interrogation video in Part One, and the encounters occur directly in just about every scene where Hari 115 appears (and fleeting glimpses of other guests appear) in Part Two. Although the alien encounter is thus more numerous
75 a nd explicit than 2001 it is equally complicated, and the end of Solaris suggests a similar convergence of the alien/human. Since Solaris is arranged by Tarkovsky in two parts, 116 I will analyze the alien/dichotomy in each part. I will focus on illustrative scenes: the opening sequence, experiences aboard the Solaris space station (including his first bedroom encounter with s suicide attempt, and the closing sequence in Part Two. The latter in particular is as philosophically suggestive and distinct for a science fiction film in Solaris as it is in 2001 As in the analytical chapter on 2001 I will focus on such cinematic tec hniques as the establishing shot and other shots or cinematographic effects, settings, point of view, and non diegetic music in Solaris Solaris also relies on ambiguous dialogue to dramatize the alien encounter. As in my analysis of 2001 I aim to explore in this chapter possible responses to the following questions: When does the alien encounter occur most significantly in Solaris and for what purpose? How is the alien and human constructed? What do these constructions imply about the alien/human dichotom y? How does Solaris complicate and, especially at the end of the film, destabilize the alien/human dichotomy? Part One The opening sequence of Solaris masterful ly correlates image and sound. The images and sounds are also contradictory: natural and simult aneously unnatural. The natural imagery in the country of the Kelvin cottage home is at once familiar but also hauntingly unfamiliar. The same is true of the non diegetic Bach music at the beginning
76 of the film: it is at once classical music tha t reminds t he viewer of Earth the music could easily fit in 2001 but the rhythm is slowed down considerably to the point where it become s almost unrecognizable and unearthly. In opposition to 2001 where the establishing shot occurs simultaneous with the non diegetic music, the non diegetic music in Solaris plays during the opening credits before the establishing shot. on Prelude in F Minor an organ piece, has an indefinite haunting affect. Since the film l argely concerns Kris Kelvin being haunted by his past relationship with Hari and haunted by his guilty conscience in leaving her the non diegetic music seems appropriate. 117 The establishing shot in Solaris an extreme close up, depicts long reeds or plants flowing underwater. Tarkovsky fixates on the image, which, because of its unfamiliarity, could imply the first representation of the alien in Solaris as something unidentifiable, unknowable, or ju st plain strange. The camera pulls back, however, to reveal that the striking image consists of reeds flowing in a crystalline river on planet Earth; the pastoral setting is the Kelvin cottage in the sensuous Russian spring. But the haunting unfamiliarity of the initial image l mind throughout the film; tive point of view occurs near the end of the film The opening sequence juxtaposes the strange, unfamiliar ly alien at first the flowing river reeds 118 with the common, familiar, and human (Kris Kelvin), and can be interpreted as the first implied representation of the alien/human dichotomy. On the other hand, there is something indefinably odd about Kelvin at the beginning of the film. When the camera first settles on Kelvin, it does not frame his body
77 in the typical medium shot. Rather, the camera pans slowly around his legs in a serpentine motion, moves up his torso, and finally rests in a close face, which is shown peering off into the distance as if Kelvin were watching someone or aware of someone or something watching him. Of course, Kelvin could simply be observing the natural splendor and beauty around him, but the deliberately slower pace of the camera movement and the objective, unfamiliar point of view reg arding Kelvin may suggest that he is being observed. The question then arises: Who or what is observing him? 119 There is apparently no one in the vicinity besides Kelvin. like, medit ative close up again shows the reeds flowing underwater. Later when Burton plays his interrogation video for Kelvin and his aunt, Professor Messenger 120 speculates that operating 121 Is the image of the reeds or plants flowing in the river current at the beginning of the film an intimation or manifestation of the the begi nning of the film actually the ending of the film? At the end, Kelvin leaves the However, the camera pulls back to reveal in one of the most stunning and complicated hi gh angle/overhead shots in all of cinema that Kelvin has actually landed on one of the strange opening sequence makes sense because Kelvin is not actually on Earth at the beginning but on the alien i sland, the same setting as the end of the film again, the beginning may be the end or vice versa.
78 Other hints in the opening sequence of Solaris corroborate this interpretation. For example, Kris gazes at giant leafy plants near the river bank and the plan ts rustle as if shaken, but there is no animal or person in view or evidence of a wind that could cause this movement. The only sound is a bird chirping in the distance. Who or what has rustled the Ocean maybe even ( Significantly, Kelvin video, the young pilot describes seeing a newly formed garde n on the island that materializes on the Ocean; interestingly, Kelvin is shown in the midst of such a garden 122 here at the beginning of the film. A second objective shot, this time from a high angle, peers down at Kelvin standing in the middle of the fi eld near the giant leafy plants the horse. 123 Further hints ass ociate the begi nning of Solaris with the ending or suggest that the beginning is a continuation of the ending. For example, a shot in the beginning sequence shows Kelvin washing his hands in the river bank, his facial reflection prominent. The reflective quality of the w ater is natural, but the image could also suggest that the land replicas created by the Ocean st person to speak i n the film and to speak to Kelvin opening sequence, the sky rumbles with thunder and Kelvin stands outside in the rain. He
79 glan ces down at rain filling a tea cup, an image foreshadowing the rain inside the brushing off the rain when they first enter the cottage at the beginning an image linked to the ending when Kelvin peers into the cottage window and sees rain falling inside on his Perhaps most suggestively in the opening sequence, the land surrounding the cottage lies shrouded in a thick fog. Naturally this could be a common sp ring fog in the Russian country; b ut as the closing shots reveal at the end of Solaris the island in the Ocean is similarly enveloped with fog. 124 In a deep focus shot in the opening sequence, Kelvin stops to peer off into the distance at the cottage as if looking at it for the first time or to make sure it is what he perceives it to be. 125 The next major scene of alien encounter constitutes a flashback since the older Burton plays the video for Kelvin and his aunt 126 in the prese nt. To convey a sense of older technology, the video was shot in black and white and comprises a kind of film within the film of Solaris There is no dir ect alien encounter in the interrogation because it basically consist of the alien encounter, but it is the first historical alien encounter in Solaris and significant and the alien is or is not interpreted by th e dramatizes th e inadequacy of science to account for personal experience or perception 127 and the failure of science to the alien encounter or they seek logical explanations to debunk the intelligent alien hypothesis. W ith a few exceptions like Profess or Messenger and Burton himself,
80 represents the par ochial views and depicts human identity (the scienti sts) as predictable, biased and completely unable or unwilling to consider the significance of the alien encounter. notably planet Earth rather than planet Solaris is nondescript and institutional: an official conference room with functional walls and furniture. Wh en Burton is shown talking, pr ominent posters of two iconic Soviet leaders appear on the wall in the background. 128 The minimalist setting t or nationalist politics: these are men unwilling or unable to discuss philosophical matters or the human experience of encountering an intelligent alien life form. Instead, the scientists seek for the most part to timony and to deny the intelligence of the Ocean that is, to deny the alien. Like the radio announcer and some of the cosmonauts in Planet of Storms the sponsored, bureaucratic automatons desiring nothing more than to maintain the status quo with an arrogant sense of human superiority or importance. 129 During his interrogation Burton describes the materialization of an island in the middle of the Solaris Ocean, which seemed to be changing: The waves disappear ed. The surface became transparent, with clouded patches. Yellow sludge gathered beneath it. It rose up in thin strips and sparkled like glass. Then it began to seethe, boil, and harden. It looked like molasses. This sludge or slime gathered into large lum ps and slowly formed different shapes. I was being video estimony or finds it difficult to
81 scien tists in the interrogation at this point in the film 130 Kelvin, a psychiatrist and scientist himself, h in science and reason even though scie nce has utterly failed, by his and their own admission, to comprehend the alien planet over time. Mundane explanations and human logic are meaningless when it comes to comprehending the alien. 131 Perhaps because Burton experiences an early alien encounter, the Ocean does not get certain details right in forming the garden. 132 Burton continues his narration: Everything was made of the same substance and then everything began to crack and break. Yellow sludge poured out of the fissures. Everything began to boil that moment, the figure rose slightly, as if it were swi mming or treading the newbor n. 133 He was wet, or, rather, slippery. His skin was shiny. He rose and fell like the waves, but he was moving by himself. It was disgusting. 134 completely discrete entities. The a lien assumes monstrous characteristics in descriptive langua ge that would be at home in conventional science fiction films like War of the Worlds or This Island Earth The alien induces powerful hallucinations and is evil, disgusting, and unsympathetic in short, a monster. 135 deliberately choosing a familiar and earthly setting and a human replica for the pilot to converse with. 136 It is likely the Ocean desired to communicate with Burton but did not know how; as noted, the setting (a garden) and vehicle for communication (human child) would be appropriate. And throughout Part Two, the guests, in particular Hari, seem motivated to communicate with Ke lvin and understand humans. In other words, the
82 guests are not motivated to torment the scientists; they are created by the Ocean probably so that the Ocean can study humans, communicate with humans in human form, and maybe even attempt to unders tand what it means to be human. The sequence in which Kelvin launches into space on his way to the Solaris space station prepares Kelvin and the viewer for his imminent alien encounter. 137 Compared to the astounding visual and auditory effects in the star gate sequenc e in 2001 rocke t launch comes across as cheesy, especially considering the rocket itself is never shown lifting off or hurtling through space in an ext ernal shot. But Tarkovsky desired to avoid artificial l ooking special effects that would call a budget. 138 The sequence relies on simple editing techniques: a close up of Kelvin in the rocket (he appears somewhat baffled by the journey or is his expression stoical?), a diegetic mission control voice announcing the launch, and a light tunnel of concentric rings projected into outer space, a kind of low budget star gate sequence, toward which However, t his simple shot of o uter space/the cosmos significantly represents the alien/human dichotomy. As in This Island Earth Planet of Storms and 2001 the shot is predicated on a basic binary opposition: the alien (immense or infinite outer space) and the human (finite Earth or, in this specific instance, a human voyager). The dichotomy is apparently incompatible. Further, a strange ambient sound can be hear d for the first time in Solaris during the launch sequence: the sound associates space with the alien. As in the star gate sequence in 2001 a close up of the m ain charac wonder; the objective point of view could also suggest that Kelvin is observed by some unknown entity perhaps the alien Ocean as he approaches Solaris. Similar to the star
83 gate sequence in 2001 where Bowman is cl early not in control (he is guided by an alien force or technology), Kelvin loses control of his rocket ship and likely would have crashed into the Ocean or space station without alien influence or guidance. When ctive po int of view shot shows Kelvin gazing down at the approaching space station while the alien sunlight glints off the space station just as present of the film Kelvi far below the station. The view accentuates the vastness of the alien entity while drawing attention to the proportionate inconsequence of the human. The eerie, ambient, and non diegetic sound con to dock and while Kelvin makes his way through the ghostly and disorderly corridor s of the space station. The disarray of the space station blinking lights, objects strewn about, electrical sparks indicates the disorder o f the scientists themselves and the subsequent disruption the alien guests have caused them. As Kelvin makes his way through various rooms and into the main corridor, an over the shoulder point of view shot, the same portrayed when the scientists approach e d the lunar monolith in 2001 uneasy sense of caution combined with wonderment. In both instances, the scientists in 2001 and Kelvin in Solaris simultaneously approach and are being approached by the ng down the corridor his first hint of an alien presence since no one is around. Kelvin hears Dr. Snaut singing in his room, and when he finally introduces himself to Snaut, Snaut grabs Kelvin to ascertain that he is real. Unaware of the guests as yet, Kel succumbed to some kind of madness. 139
84 Kelvin then returns to his bedroom. 140 Shot in a wide angle lens, the camera pans in tense subjectivity creates a sense of the enormous space of the room space station or Ocean sound. The madness which has infested the scientists seems to be working on Kel vin. As in 2001 however, point of view is never stable and alternates betw een human (subjective) and alien (objective). The objective point of view lingers on Kelvin as he looks around the room and he seems to become conscious, like Bowman in the Jupiter Room, that he is being observed or is not alone. The ambient sound cue reinforces this full frame blackness of the Solarian night, an image suggesting ous impenetrability. 141 The next significant shot 142 and sees his reflection. Later Kelvin and Hari have a dialogue in which they do not look m mirror as they speak. The visual emphasis on mirrors in the circular corridor when Kelvin first arrives at the station anticipation. 143 But the symbolism of the mirror is what Tark ovsky is most interested in, especially the idea of reflection an image or memory that represents the original but remains illusory and insubstantial. The mirror symbolism relates to Hari and the other guests aboard the space station, who are likewise refl ections of originals and therefore illusory. The alien materializes by assuming a human form, which causes the human characters in turn to reflect on humanity; similarly, the mirror may be double sided,
85 reflecting humanity for the alien Ocean so that it ca n understand something about humans or its own nature. 144 turns out to be one of the most significant in Solaris When Kelvin wakes from a nap in his room, there is an extreme close up of Hari (or Hari II.) staring at Kel expression appropriately represents alien identity: inscrutable, unknowable, devoid of any human motivation (even curiosity). What is the alien doing at this point? Observing Kelvin through human bu t inhuman eyes, attempting to understand Kelvin or read his feelings toward Hari? 145 Kelvin is in a passive state (sleeping) in the alien encounter in a recumbent position when he first sees Hari; conversely, Hari is awake, alert, observant, and standing. In this sense, the alien/human juxtaposition suggests not only the differences between the two representations but, as in 2001 the alien is associated with activity whereas the hu man is associated with passivity. After all, the alien visits Kelvin and assumes human form; it does not work the other way. 146 Since the metallic cabinets are still stacked against the door, Hari did not enter physically through the door; rather, her prese nce indicates she came from somewhere else assumes he is in the past and there is nothing extraordinary about Hari sitting in the chair on the Solaris space station watching him. They embrace and kiss in a familiar or even routine way; the alien Hari is quite human in her sexual desire. 147 The eerie ambient sound that defines the alien or alien presence in Solaris returns in this scene. Then it
86 occurs to Kelvin after the kiss that something is amiss. He remembers where he is in the present on the Solaris space station: the Hari before him is not a dream but a material form or incarnation. The fir st direct alien encounter and representation in the film constitutes a case of mistaken identity. indefinite pronoun. Her statement could refer to the sentiment tha t it is nice to be with Kelvin again ; it could mean the sensation of embracing and kissing is pleasant (the alien experiences human sexual sensations for the first time); or it could mean that it is nice for the alien to assume human form and genuinely be able to commu nicate with a human. The first direct alien encounter in Solaris however, dramatizes the misunderstandings between the two beings For instance, the alien Hari does not understand the significance s it in bed with him which innocuously kicks the loaded gun off the bed. The child does not comprehend the human predilection for violence or even the need for self protection. 148 Hari pulls out the black and white photograph of same instant, Hari looks into the mirror. The objects are symbolic: both the photograph and the mirror are reproductions or reflections of the original just as the simulacra Hari is herself a reproduction or reflection of t question indicates a human like curiosity and a rudimentary de sire to understand her identity. The nascent
87 Hari committed suicide. However, t self 149 of human identity. Part Two The setting of the library significantly contrasts with the other settings on the space station in Solaris Of all the rooms on the station, the library most clearly resembles Earth 150 or a representative human space: the lighting from the lamps and candelab ra (an archaic but key lighting source) is soft and inviting; hardbound volumes fill the library shelves in neatly arranged rows in opposition to the ubiquitous clutter in the other rooms; ecause it is enc losed unlike the due to the deep focus cinematography, seems to st retch into infinity like something in a nightmare. Where the other rooms on the station are cold, detached, and thoroughly institutional, th e library is warm, human, and domesticated; where the other rooms are scientific or functional, the library comprises a substantive art resource and place of orderly refuge amidst chaotic madness. The l ibrary is a kind of human sanctuary in the insanity of the alien encounter; it is the one place the human characters can congregate on the space station and feel most human and most at home. Even the alien Hari feels most human and most vulnerable in the library. The pivotal anity and shows that the human characters Kelvin and Snaut at leas t accept her as a human being 151 At the beginning
88 of the scene, an uncomfortable silence hovers over Kelvin, Hari, and Sartorius as they irthday party. Tension is generated and lover in deserves some critical scrutiny: by maintaining an o bjective point of view, Tarkovsky refuses to take sides as to which position because she is the object of the debate and th e source of the underlying tension. 152 The scene further reveals various human reactions to and interactions with the alien by dramatizing t he epistemological conflict or crisis between science and art. Since science cannot understand the alien or the meani ng of the alien encounter, literature and art the quotations from Don Quixote 153 are exemplary remind the men of the subjective limits of human perception and comprehension. For this reason, the library represents the salvific potential of literature and art Unable to comprehend the alien and unknown, the scientists fall back on or trust the intelligible and known that is, human experience or the human condition, which is what literature and art (including films like 2001 and Solaris ) deals with in intricate ways. Snaut arrives an hour and a half late to his birthday party wearing a suit with the sleeves torn presumably by his guest who did not wish him to go. In a drunken 154 hand affectionately, demons trating his gallantry and acceptance of her as a woman and unimaginative, and dogmatic Sartorius. The conflict between Kelvin and Hari on the one hand and Sartorius on the ot her or between Snaut and Sartorius is that between art
89 and science in making sense of the alien encounter. Scientists themselves, Kelvin and to a lesser extent Snaut accept Hari unconditionally; they abando n the illusion that science can explain the alien or help them understand the alien or alien encounter. Conversely, Sartorius maintains his dedication to scientific truth in his rejection of with an ironic toast to Snaut in any science fiction film, Snaut ad in science and argues instead for the impossible attainment of scienti alien: Science is meaningless. In this situation, mediocrity and genius are equally useless. We have no interest in conquering any cosmos. We want to extend the We need a mirror [emphasis mine]. We predicament of striving for a goal that we fear, that we have no need for. Man needs man [e mphasis mine ]. duty to science. Sartorius counter could learn her ways. In his endless search for truth, man is condemned [note Sartrean Sartorius implies that an innate c Nature. However Snaut and Kelvin argue that this search for truth is fruitless and hopeless when we are confronted by the alien or something we fail to ( or even can ) comprehend. In this circumstance, science and reason utterly fails man, although art may
90 yet have some significance. 155 Perhaps sensing the failure of science in this instance, He turns to Kelvin in particular and accuses Kelvin of abandoning the discipline of science and his sense of duty in exchange for an indolent and pointless love affair with interested in other things. You spend all day lounging in a bed of But Kelvin is justified in having abandoned science or the pursuit of scientific truth. He has alte rnatively embraced philosophy, art, and especially Hari (as lover and alien) in trying to understand. In other words, it is the very human conditions of love, all those things Hari embodies which allows Kelvin to approach and attempt to understand the alien and thus reality in ways that Sart orius and to a lesser degree Snaut finds i mpossible or problematic Of the three human scientists or four if we include Gibarian Kelvin has been the most successful in establishing contact with the alien Ocean and learning from his interaction. In fact, Ke relationship with Hari precipitates his d ramatic transformation. sc refer to us as guests beings
91 than human creations sprung from the minds of the orbiting scientists. She cites love as for love signals that she is more human than either Sartorius or Snaut. 156 experiences further attest to her humanity and especially her human capacity for sentiment, love, compassion, sensitivity, femininity, sexuality, guil t, sensation, feeling, reflection, and self awareness. She is even capable of forming alliances (as with Kelvin) and rivalries (against Sartorius). or copy of the original H ari with further symbolic overtones concerning the real alien of gravity in the library scene, the recurring ambient sound cues the viewer to the presence of the alie n while a close up shot of Hari shows her peering intently at the of human art. But metaphorically speaking, Hari is a painting herself the alien representation of t he original Hari the alien/human dichotomy and foreshadows the merging of alien and human at the end of the film. 157 Kelvi ance in the library further intimates the union when the two discrete beings merge into one. 158 Tarkovksy cuts next to a close up image of Peter Brueg Hunters in the Snow 159 hanging on the library wall; this is one of the paintings Hari stares at so 2001 Tarkovksy uses photographs
92 ( from Kelvin and paintings ( Hunters in the Snow ) in Solaris to create deliberate effects and t o elucidate the alien/human dichotomy. To begin with, Hunters in the Snow is set in a pristine rural landscape. According to Johnson and Petrie in The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky : A Visual Fugue the painting could remind the film viewer of Earth and the sen se of home that the Solaris scientists yearn for (101; 108 109) But the setting of the painting is locked in a vaguely oppressive and foreboding wintry landscape: the afternoon sun is obscured by extremely dark clouds (boding further snowstorms) so that i t is like night; desolate, craggy, snow covered mountains loom in the distance; snow covers the entire area, trees, and shrubs; 160 the pond is frozen solid; one raven circles overhead while several more 161 sit in stark, bare tree branches; the hunters in the f oreground are dressed in thick clothes (every figure in the painting wears black); 162 and to the left several villagers burn a bonfire either for warmth or to prepare to cook whatever the hunters bring back. The thick cloud cover in Hunters in the Snow can be literally associated with the Solaris Ocean, which forms thick clouds and an impenetrable fog in the e nding (and beginning?) of the film. The d ar kness in the painting symbolizes the mystery of the unknowable alien in the film. The onds with the literal blackness of attire in the painting; combined with the bleak landscape and muted colors (only t he painting evokes a mood of oppression and quiet, unsettling beauty ; t he same is true of Solaris The bonfire in the painting is especially past when he and his family play in the snow around a bonfire, and there is also the bonfire in Part One of Solaris where Kelvin burns his photographs and academic
93 papers. 163 Brueg film. Finally, the subject of hunting may be significant as well. Hunting implies a pre dator prey relationship, a life or death ga me of seek, elude, capture, kill, and eat. It is possible to interpret either the human characters as predatory Solaris after all and even attack the Ocean aggressively with radio waves or as prey. In the latter sense, the alien guests irr emovable presence. Hari can be interpreted a s the main predator in the film; i n a scientists. As a result of Tarkovs painting and film are literally and symbolically interrelated. 164 T he sense of fore boding suggested by Hunters in the Snow relates to the ending sequence, and the sense of unease the painting evokes is related to the unease the human characters experience in the alien encounter in Solaris For example, Rainer and Rose Marie Hagen, the authors of Bruegel: The Complete Paintings discuss the negative connotations of the dark colors in Hunters in the Snow and the fact that the hunters bring home only one fox (perhaps for the entire village): green [more grayish] of the sky and ice. Every living thing people, trees, do gs, birds is dark. This stands in contradiction to the customary colour associations connected with being alive 165 and heightens the impressions of misery and privation. When the camera pans in for an extr eme lingering close up of Brueg library scene, the ambient sound associated with the alien can be heard again along with faint voices in the background and dogs barking. The voices and barking are presumably
94 mimetic sounds the p eople and dogs in the painting would make if the painting had an auditory component; it is almost as if Tarkovsky renders the painting a short video (visual images combined with auditory components). But the voices are problematic: Who is hearing these sou nds or, rather, imagining hearing these sounds? T he sounds are emphatically earthly It could be Kelvin hearing the sounds, but more likely it is the alien Hari imagining the sounds as she tries to understand the human situa tion in the painting. ( Hari was also the last one shown looking at the painting. ) The ambient alien cue further recommends it is Hari imagining the sounds in the painting which are alien to her. Once again, the ambient sound signals the alien encounter alo ng with the sense of estrangement and unease that the characters humans and Hari experience in Solaris Just when Kelvin and the film viewer grow accustomed to and comfortable with ry scene dispels Solaris after she dri nk s a container of liquid oxygen in the main corridor. 166 anity since p resumably a human and not an alien being questions about if the guests know about their alien identity as well as their derivation In a sense, the guests are both alien and human creations which certainly confuses and complicates the alien/human dichotomy. 167 The various Hari incarnations in Solaris have limited knowledge of the original human Hari in ter ut they also seem to possess knowledge of the other humans on the space station besides Kelvin. The Hari
95 original Hari was) and never seem to question if or why they as inde pendent beings are in love with him. In contrast, the Hari incarnations do not know what the Ocean does. If that were the case, Hari III. would know in advance that her suicide is futile because she will come back as Hari again no matter how many times she replica believes herself (itself) to be the only Hari and has no knowledge or understanding of the other Hari replicas. The Hari replicas problematize the alien/human dichotomy: they are at once alien crea tions of the Ocean and they are human or become human but they are not strictly one or the other For all practical purposes, the Hari replicas are independent beings occupying an existential twilight zone between the alien and human. When Kelvin discovers Hari 168 and bends over her temporary corpse in concern ironic in that the viewer recalls the first time Kelvin wanted to dispatch Hari in his rocket a spectral close close human in her sentiments (such as unhappiness or love for Kelvin) or more human in her
96 identifies the alien nature of Hari. Human feel ings like love do not or should not pertain to the alien. like, lifeless for m relates to the central idea inhumanity. She returns to life after a few agonizing moments where she struggles to breathe and convulses from the effort. Her struggle and physical agony seem to be human, but the act of reanimation clearly is the work of the alien Ocean. The Ocean does seemingly respect what the g uests desire for themselves; rather, the alien determines only that the guests live. The reason for the existence of the guests in the fi rst place and especially their re surrections as dramatized in this scene reminds the viewer that the Ocean, an alien en tity, does not ope rate with human reason or logic; rather, t he alien constitutes an inscrutable mystery. As if to reinforce this notion, the next shot shows the Ocean swirling in an impenetrable fog as the alien sunlight glances off the waves. The non die getic music and symbolic visual images initiating the closing sequence of Solaris suggest a link or return Prelude in F Minor played only twice before: once during the opening credits and again s zero gravity dance in the library scene The music not only a ccording to Johnson and Petrie in The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue (101; 108 109), but it cues the viewe r that yet another significant and final alien encounter will occur: a point of view shot of Kelvin imminent reappearance of another alien guest. The music could also ironically suggest that things are returning to normal aboard the Solaris station. The close up image from
97 has brought with him from Earth, seems to indicate his desire to return home as Johnson and Pe trie point out in The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue (101; 108 109), but it also indicates a returning normalcy. In addition, the image of the plant represents several different things: it symbolizes growth, life, or new life th or new life or the new guest he is about to meet; it reminds Kelvin and the viewer of 169 and it provides a transition to the next image, the familiar/unfamiliar close up of the p lants flowing in the river current, which appeared at the beginning of the film. During this scene Kelvin and Snaut converse about a number of philosophical subjects including the ere can be no if to suggest that he listens to Snaut but either does not understand h im or does not believe him about the impossibility of contact. The zoom shot may also suggest the alien this last time for a recreation of the country cottage and Ke At this po over narration can The voice finished. Further, when Kelvin asks the question about returning to Earth, Tarkovsky cuts to the by now familiar image of the unfamiliar Ocean swirling clouds, fog, etc. The idea expressed in visual terms is th or actually will b e a re turn to
98 fully to them. Never. Do I have the right to turn down even an imagin ed possibility of on Earth whereas he has clearly given himself fully to his alien gues t, Hari, and vice versa without trying to contact the Ocean again even if such a contact represents an ossibility. The guests imply a contradictory alien nature: the guests are evolve over, an overhead shot of the Ocean appears below bjective point of view as he leaves the station in his rocket. The auditory voice over combines with the visual image to indicate that Kelvin not only desires alien contact, he is in the pro cess of actively seeking it by landing on an island in the Ocean a t th e end of the film; i n other words, he has no intentions of returning to Earth. 170 Kelvin answers his own questions at the end of the voice over: me is to wait [to should Kelvin wait for the next alien encounter when he can seek it himself? The final images in the closing sequence are undoubtedly the most haunting and baffling in Solaris The final images of the film also return to the beginning images so that some connection or parallel relationship is suggested between the opening and
99 closing sequences. Except for a rear view shot of Kelvin walking toward the river and another shot showing Kelvin peering inside the cottage which could very well represent Kelvin experiences the closing sequence from his subjective point of view. For instance, Kelvin approaches the river, the one containing the flowing underwater reeds (which Kelvin had just envisioned by way of flashback on the surface prepares Kelvin and the viewer for what Kelvin next encounters: alien created reflectio ns quence are illusory reflections, Tarkovsky provides several visual and auditory clues in this sequence. First, the Kelvin family dog greets Kelvin in this sequence; the dog must have been dead for and white flashback sequences or in his childhood family video Kelvin shows Hari aboard the Solaris station. Se cond, a bonfire lies smoldering near the cottage. The remains of the bonfire cannot be coincidental. Is this the same fire Kelvin burned the day before his departure to the station? Is it related somehow to the bonfire Kelvin recalled in his flashback sequ ences o r even the bonfire in the Breug el painting Hunters in the Snow ? The eerie ambient sound which cues the presence of the alien also returns in the closing sequence. The final suggestion of alien encounter in this sequence occurs when Kelvin approache s the cottage window, peers in, and sees that it is raining inside. guest in the film, is shown with the interior rain evaporating off his back 171 Inside, the father turns to look at Kelvin as Kelvin stares at his father from the outside; the alien
100 and human seem to achieve some kind of tacit communication or understanding f acia l expression is entirely blank or inexpressive as is his Kelvin falls down on his knees and embraces his father. The closing sequence repre sents on the alien Ocean to c reate or sustain his illusions of happiness and unconditional acceptance by his fath Because of open e ndedness and lack of resolution, there is no way to know if such as his deceased mother and his aunt the island, whether Kelvin will ever leave the island, how long Kel v in plans to stay on the island if not indefinitely etc. The camera moves in a series of breathtaking overhead shots as the pervasive fog envelops the entire landscape and island. The final overhead shot reveals that the cottage an d country is merely an i sland of illusion in the middle of the vast, green, alien Ocean.
101 Chapter 5: Conclusions T he universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine Sir Arthur Eddington 172 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico Philosophicus Comparison of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris As indicated throughout the previous four chapters and in the end notes, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris are radically different in many respect s, but they also share certain characteristics that make them distinct, unusual, and unconventional science differences before moving on to consider certain unifying and genre exploding characteristics they share in common. One fundamental difference between 2001 and Solaris is that Solaris gives Earth Petrie 100), whereas the inverse i s true to a greater extent in 2001. The basic narrative of Solaris concerns what Johnson and Petrie in The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Petrie propose family relationships, themes of guilt and betrayal, and a celebration of the natural beauty 2001 concerns
102 evolving h uman consciousness or intelligence in the cosmic scheme of things, but 2001 nks with the Earth In short, one of the main differences between the two films is the undeniable human or humanist emphasis in Solaris 2001 covers cosmic distances, is organized in four main sequences, and spans at least two disparate eras in natural history (primitive humans, humans in the near future, and perhaps even humans in the far future in some advanced stage of evolution) a col ossal canvass for any film. Solaris is unified by one time (the near future), two principal settings (Earth/Kelvin country cottage and Solaris/space station), and focuses on one main huma n character and his development. Kelvin comes to terms with his past/ relationship with Hari and undergoes a psychological or philosophical change from aloof, unfeeling scientist to emotional and introspective human being. On the other hand, 2001 does not possess one main character unless it is David Bowman. As usual, Kubric k was not interested in conventions like character development or imbuing Bowman with emotions, a three dimensional personality, or sympathetic qualities. In fact, Bowman in 2001 closely resembles Kelvin in Part One of Solaris tion at the end of 2001 concerns neither his metamorphosis in the Jupiter Room is swift, complete, and absolute from one being (a human) into another being (a new human being, an ali en, or some kind of alien/human hybrid). As in many of his films, Kubrick distances the viewer from the characters in 2001
103 intended) vision or philosophy. Although Tarkovsky similarly utilizes irony to great effect in Solaris and overall success. Kubr ick is not a t all interested in the viewer identifying with his characters in any traditional sense; indeed, identification with the main characters is not possible in nor essential to the success of 2001 173 Moreover, Hari becomes a second main sympathetic character Solaris especially in her human struggle to find her identity through her feelings and memories. Hari develops not only the human capacity to love but also seems to feel compassion and to understand the idea of self and Pet Solaris constitutes for all practical purposes a love story with complex philosophica l overtones (which happen to be similar to 2001 to the very human story Solaris dramatizes. Of course, no where does a love story or traditional romance (or conventional drama for that matter) enter the cerebral 20 01 ; 174 2001 can accurately be described as a loveless and sexless film. The fact that the alien assumes human form in Solaris suggests that the alien attempts to communicate with the human scientists or attempts some kind of human understanding. 175 Moreover, b y assuming human form, the alien in Solaris is brought down to e/Earth, so to speak human emphasis and emphasis on human characters and situations, Solaris requires the viewer to identify or sy mpathize with the alien, whereas the alien is entirely
104 unsympathetic in 2001 The alien in 2001 is more inhumanly abstract and unnatural in monolith form. The only time in 2001 (excepting the literal alien visitation in sequence one), occurs when the enhanced image of the Bowman Star Child hovers above and either c omplements or contrasts with Earth at the end of the film. Still, the Star Child is not technically human but more alien in creation and originati on. Solaris humanizes 176 the alien whereas 2001 refuses to ascribe human characteristics or qualities to the alien if the latter even exists. These are some of the basic differences separating 2001 and Solaris ; now I will consider what characteristics they s hare in common and discuss the significance of the comparison. First, both films convey a sense of the familiar and unfamiliar: even when 2001 is set on Earth in sequence one, the familiar landscape has been altered by the presence of the alien monolith, a nd a common territori al dispute between two rival groups becomes invested with a profound significance as a result of the alien encounter. The final image in the same film is at once familiar a human embryo but also becomes quickly unfamiliar since it is r epresented as hovering above the Ea rth in some kind of matrix The sy nthesis of familiar/unfamiliar and alien/human which is suggested in the opening and closing sequences of Solaris begins when Kelvin first encounters Hari in his space station bedroom co ntinues with his interaction with Hari in scenes like the library, and 177 at the end are familiar to Kelv in but a lso unfamiliar since they are alien entities Second, a sense of unease or estrangement accompanies the alien encounter in 2001 and Solaris 178 For instance, in 2001 the non diegetic voices accompanies the appearance of the monolith and invests the latter with mystery
105 wonder, and an eerie sense of th e mysterium tremendum The early humans are afraid to touch the alien object in sequence one, and an aura of uncertainty and tension is created in sequence two when D r. Floyd and his group of scientists approach the excavated lunar monolith. The aura of un ease, uncerta inty, and expectation climaxes in the final Jupiter Room sequence at the end of the film. In Solaris Kelvin does not know how to react to ( The same is true ) As in 2001 alien identity is something mysterious, elusive, and distinctly inhuman or non human. Inferior science fiction films represent moments of passing strangeness, but 2001 and Solaris maintain this prof ound sense of otherness from beginning to end. Third, the alien/human dichotomy is implicitly or indirectly represented in unconventional science fiction films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris 2001 and Solaris avoid what Carlos Clarens, using the W estern film genre in a different context, of good and/versus evil in his Illustrated History of Horror and Science Fiction Films (xviii) Alien and human identity in 2001 and Solaris is something complex and multiva lent rather than reductive or simplistic; additionally, the alien encounter in both films has a profound effect on humans. Both films do not trivialize the alien by showing it repeatedly: even when the alien assumes human form, as in Solaris it is not sim ply an evil monster or benevolent human but a complex if little understood entity. Fourth, both 2001 and Solaris not only portray the alien/human dichotomy, they complicate and destabilize the dichotomy. For instance, if the alien/human dichotomy is clearl y represented in sequence one with a gradual complication of the dichotomy in
106 sequences two and four, the Jupiter Room sequence concluding 2001 synthesizes the alien/human. Unlike conventional science fiction films, 2001 complicates the dichotomy and demon strates the dichotomy is false: either we witness the birth of a hybrid new life form at the end, a merging of the alien and human, or there never was or is an alien presence or intell igence in the film Since humans are incapable of understanding the alie n even if it does exist, 179 in order to compensate human characters like Bowman perceive th e alien entirely in human terms which may be the ultimate meaning of the Jupiter Room. Bowman does not discover the alien in the Jupiter Room nor does he discover the al and the film viewer expects. Instead, he finds only what he desires and understands: himself. The alien/human dichotomy is complicated in Solaris intelligence and eventual self awareness a self awar eness paralleled by the human characters, especially Kel vin. The conventional demarcation of alien/human identity is further obscured because the alien guests consciences: as the most sophisticated guest, Hari, point s out, the guests are part of the humans. The alien assumes human form in the guests apparently for the purpose of communicating with humans and learning about them, and, in the closing sequence with father, s, the guests become a mirror by which the alien learns what it means to be human. At the same time, the gu ests turn the mirror on humans and Kelvin in particular, so that the human characters are forced to see or scrutinize their own reflections. The gues ts compel the human characters to learn something, mirror conception of the alien blurs the traditional dichotomy of alien/human; thus, Solaris also
107 avoids trivializing th e alien (and human). More over, t he alien encounter in the form of Hari changes Kelvin as profoundly as the monolith changes humans in 2001 Finally because 2001 and Solaris represent the alien as something mysterious, unfamiliar, and perhaps even ineffable, they raise questions a bout the limits of human comprehension something conventional science fiction films seldom if ever do. Both films draw attention to the anthropocentric conception of the alien again something conventional science fiction films seldom if ever do. 2001 and S olaris indicate that all of human thought including making sense of the alien or alien encounter is anthropomorphic in nature. The quest for or journey to find the alien in both films ends en confirmation of alien existence/intelligence, but to a mirror in which man beholds his own image. 180 Sequences one and four in 2001 suggest that human comprehension of the alien is library scene in Solaris on the natur is speech applies equally well to Solaris and 2001 Snaut indicated that our quest for the alien is in actuality a search for beings like ourselves either humanoid or, in fact, human. Our search for the alien, then, is a search for some understanding of ourselves or what it means to be human. We also seek an alien that will somehow corrob orate or reaffirm our sense of (perhaps erroneous) self importance in the cosmos. T he identical and ambiguous endings of 2001 and Solaris underscore the inescapable problem of anthropocentrism in alien representation. Already significantly compromised or complicated by this point, the conventional and discrete alien/human dichotomy breaks down at the end of both films and the viewer witnesses a mind
108 boggling union of the alien and human. David Bowman experiences his tra nsformation into the embryonic if still recognizably human Star Child at the end of 2001 and Kris Kelvin embraces the alien created simul acra of his father at the end of Solaris True alien identity remains mysterious, inscrutable, and uncertain in both films. 181 Unable to comprehend the alien in any except anthropocentric terms, Bowman Kelvin and the film viewer are doomed to circle endles sly before or around the human image. Bowman and Kelvin and again the film viewers are trapped and unable to escape from the prison of human subjectivity. The endings of both films kind; instead, the en dings may represent a cycle or pattern of repeated behavior. In 2001 the alien transformed the human at the beginning and does so at the ending; there is no reason to believe that one but merely part of a n endless series of human evolutionary cycles o r changes the alien initiates In Solaris Kelvin chooses to remain on the alien i sland, a content prisoner and passive recipient of alien created illusions. But why does Kelvin choose to land on the island in stead of returning to Earth? He chooses his own passive state (or fate) and regresses general. Also, the island may be just the beg inning of the Ocean created illusions there m ay be count less illusions and guests Kelvin has yet to encounter. Broadening the Context Now that I have analyzed 2001 and Solaris and attempted some comparison of the films, the question remains as to how or why 2001 and Solaris are unconventional
109 scie nce fiction films and what significance this distinction may have to a scholarly 2001 (and Solaris we might add) reverses the conventions of many science fiction films i we are seeking them (139). F ew science fiction films deal significantly with what I have been calling the al ien/human dichotomy since most treat the dichotomy in superficial or formulaic terms. A more interrogative, critical examination of the dichotomy as in 2001 and Solaris in The Science Fiction Film Reader may b ). Conventional science fiction films are predicated o n one simple binary opposition or conflict alien/human, and the distinctions between the two are very clear with no ambiguity. Conversely, a complicated and unconventional reversal of this distinction seems to occur in 2001 and Solaris : the h uman becomes the alien and vice versa. In the sense the alien is a creation of the human mind, the alien is also humanized, whereas the human characters tend to be alienated in both films. In other words, a unitas oppositorum seems to occur in both films. At the end of 2001 and Solaris if not before, juxtaposition of the alien/human is no longer possible because there are no longer two mutually exclusive constituents or defining/absolute categories, alien and human Since the alien can be interpreted as a co nstruct of the human mind or imagination, the truly alien may not only be incomprehensible but beyond our imagination 182 Moreover, Rickman in his introduction to The Science Fiction Film Reader briefly discusses a Lacanian notion which Rickm ). The mbolic order ) a kind of symbolic Other. As
110 is opaque since Rickman does not elaborate on the Big Other or what it means other than to suggest that in thinking of the symbolic Big Other in unconventional films like 2001 and Solaris ). But the search to understand the alien, the Big Other, may hel p distinguish unconventional films like 2001 and Solaris from mediocre genre films like This Island Earth and Planet of Storms The perhaps doomed quest to represent, structure, and comprehend the Big Other in 2001 and Solaris nevertheless inspires thinkin g about who (and what as well as why) we are in the immensity of the cosmos. 2001 and Solaris are essentially philosophical films which helps distinguish them from many conventional genre films. I have discussed several possible philosophical themes both films contemplate including our epistemological limits and our inescapable anthropocentrism when it comes to comprehending the alien or alien encounter. But 2001 and Solaris also contribute to and constitute a new myth of alien encounter. They are indeed e pic or mythic science fiction films and not in the conventional meaning of myth, as in Greek myths. Rather, the films embody new philosophical or cosmic myths. Further u nlike most conventional science fiction films, 2001 and Solaris not only represent the alien/human dichotomy but question the poss ibility of such representation. Of course, 2001 and Solaris address more than a few philosophical themes or myths ; the films will be interpreted and reinterpreted in more ways than my limited critical awareness ca n possibly imagine. But I hope this dissertation has imparted a sense at least of the complexity, significance, and artistry of both f ilms. Especially in the latter meaning of artistry, 2001 and Solaris are exemplary films because they are not
111 preoccupied first and foremost with special effects and action sequences, as is so typical of conventional science fiction films; rather, special effects and action are invariably or obsessively subordinate to philosophical ideas in both films I t is this philosophical orientation that renders 2001 and Solaris interrogative films and ascertains the status of Kubrick and Tarkovsky as auteur filmmakers In the latter sense, both directors shared the writing credit for the screenplays and thus can be considered auteurs in the literal as well as theoretical senses of the term. Like the best auteurs Kubrick and Tarkovksy possessed total control in the process of filming 2001 and Solaris and both films bear their unmista kable and identifying imprints 2001 and Solaris represent a new breed of science fiction films as philosophical narratives: they are slower paced, meditative, subtle, and highly nuanced, which distinguishes them from many conventional science fiction films. They are distinct and discret e works of cinematic art that have considerably stimulated appreciation for and critical interest in the science fiction film and what the science fiction film can do. The nature of the argument in this dissertation is necessarily comparative and evaluativ e in nature: by examining the complexity of unconventional films like 2001 and Solaris or what makes them distinctive, I am comparing conventional films to 2001 and Solaris and making the case f or the inferiority of the former and the superiority of the l atter. Evaluative arguments reveal limitations (but more or less informed and analytical) points of view. Thus, this dissertatio n reveals a certain bias. However, the focus of the argument has not been the inferiority of cert ain films versus the superiority of others; I aimed to analyze the alien encounter and
112 alien/human dichotomy in films like This Island Earth Planet of Storms 2001 and Solaris in order to distinguish conventional from un conventional films to show how to distinguish the two kinds of films. And it is very much true (in an al most Thomas and unconventional science fict ion films need each other in order to be. 183 Candidly, m y analysis could have referred to more examples, but given the spatia l or length restrictions, I was not able to be comprehensive in my approach to the topic. Then again, there is no research project that can be truly comprehensive. The root text. In the midst of writing this dissertation, I discovered a potential resource that I could have used either directly or indirectly to substantiate my argument: Space Odyssey a recent collection (2006) of critical essays edit ed by the most prominent 2001 critic, Robert Kolker. But I believe this dissertation has made an effective argument for the distinction of 2001 and Solaris in terms of problematizing the alien encounter and alien/human dichotomy. It should assist scholars interested in engaging in science fiction studies and especially the study of science fiction cinema ( 2001 and Solaris in particular ). I would like to broaden discussion in the future to include a number of sophisticated and in their own ways unconventio nal science fiction films that share a lot in common 184 with 2001 and Solaris Star Trek: The Motion Picture (2001) and Blade Runner (2007), to name but two popular examples. I excluded B lade Runner from this dissertation because 185 the replicants are androids created
113 by humans but there is an alien and alien intelligence in Star Trek: The Motion Picture even if it is a solitary, vast mac hine intelligence (VGER) in search of its human creator. Both Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky also made other films in the science fiction Dr. Strangelove (1963) and A Clockwork Orange (1971), Stalker (197 7). Many critics believe the latter film surpasses Solaris in terms of philosophical implications I would further like to broaden the discussion at some point by analyzing other Kubrick and Tarkovksy science fiction films or to compare Solaris and Stalker for that matter, but such considerations are beyond the scope of this essay. I fiction films; moreover, Kubrick and Tarkovksy invented a new kind o f sub genre the alternative philosophic al or cognitive science fiction film. Admittedly, the academic reputation of science fiction in general has not been great, and I hope this dissertation ultimately will contribute to changing perceptions of the genre. Except for a few major authors like Philip K. Dick or Ursula K. Le Guin and a handful of films and television shows that have received scant critical attention, the genre is often thought of as simpli stic and adolescent because of the audience/fan base or intellectual content. The marginaliz ed reputation of the genre results at least in part from conventional science fiction and films saturating the market from the 1930s to the present. Published just a year before the release of 2001 in 1967, Carlos Clemens admits in his Illustrated History of Horror and Science Fiction Films Tarkovsky were establishe d directors who had already made accomplished films
114 Andrei Rublev Lolita or The Killing ) in various genres before they turned their attention to science fiction. Helm ed by lackluster or commercial genre directors as opposed to auteurs the vast number of science fiction films have been banal, mediocre, or downright deplorable a fact that rings as true in 2010 as it did in 1967. Clarens elaborates on the dilemma of the film specialist who might endeavor to study the sc ience fiction genre: Quality takes second place to quantity and their [science fiction films] staggering ) make it devo tion to film research as to have sat through The Space Children War of the Satellites and Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman ? (119) Undoubtedly, the science fiction film scholar must sift through a good deal of sand in order to find a few flecks of gold (no The good news is that the science fiction genre is not alone in this sense; t here have been plenty of rotten eggs in any genre along with the rare sparkling gem. 186 More importantly, and primarily because of sophisticated authors working in the genre 187 and films like 2001 and Solaris the academic reputation of science fiction is currently undergoing a 2001 the end of Solaris To conc science fiction studies i n general seems to be changing for the better.
115 End Notes 1 Most notably in the area of crit ical acclaim, but 2001: A Space Odyssey has enjoyed an immense popular following since it was released in theaters in 1968 A competent but inferior sequel directed by Peter Hyams, 2010: Odyssey Two (1983), dramatized the melting of Cold War tensions and t he representation of detente aboard a Soviet spaceship returning to Discovery One in order to determine what happened. Americans Dr. Floyd and Dr. Kronow join the Soviet c rew. I am unsure of the popularity of Andrei Solaris since the Soviet fil m was originally released in European theaters But S olaris cannot be too unpopular in the U.S. at least since it was re released in the Criterion DVD series in the North American market and also re made as the unsuccessful Solaris directed by Steven Soderberg h (both in 2002). 2 Or, to take another related example, to differentiate science fiction from horror (literature or film). H.P. Lovecraft can be classified as both a science fiction and horror At The Mountains of Madness Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) indistinguishably mixes science fiction and horror as do Alien (1979). The popularity of science fiction, horror, and science fiction/horror hybrid fi lms should not be underrated Carlos Clemens, who would prefer to lump science fiction, horror, or science fiction/horror under the general lab el fantasy, reports in his Illustrated History of Horror and Science Fiction Films 1958 season, more than forty films combining science fiction and horror themes were released in New York City and only now [in 1967] is the vogue abat Hardware (1990) and Event Horizon (1997) are any indication, this vogue has not abated in the least. 3 Lord of the Rings : The Two Towers (2002) where Gandalf, the wizard, falls for days toward the center of (Middle ) Earth locked in mortal c ombat with a Balrog, a demon that inhabits the darkest depths of the destroyed mines of Moria. Is it probable such a creature could exist or that the two combatants could fal l for this lo ng a time to the center of the Earth while fighting? No. Is it possible? No assuming, of course, that Middle Earth is actual ly Earth and not some fantastic planet where physical laws need not apply. Doubtless many would explain such passages magical world ( diegesis ) of Middle Earth where anything goes. And that may be an important distinction to note: in fantasy, anything goes, but in science fiction there are
116 w e collectively understand it In her introduction The Time Machine acclaimed author blem, of course, lies in how we define or perceive reality (vs. fantasy or the imaginary), but this is an old philosophical argument that goes well beyond the limited scope of this dissertation. 4 Where does the critic or fan draw the line? In cinema, wou ld the Star Wars films be considered, more accurately, fanta sy rather than science fiction as opposed, for instance, to 2001 and Star Trek ? The only conclusion I have come to in the old fantasy vs. science fiction debate is that it is impossible to make an y conclusions or distinctions for that matter. All we are left with, really, is evaluation: Is Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1984) a good science fiction film? Is Watership Down a good fantasy novel? Gertrude Stein once wrote Geograph y and Plays s a rose is a 5 Of course, the genre of realism, by which I mean realistic vs. fantastic literature and film, is just as problematic and riddled with problems of definition and interpretation. It seems to me the best or realistic films in the genre question what is real just as the best fantasy films question what is fantastic. I n short, the best films minimalize and erase conventional generic distinctions. For example, consider the film Lost Highway (1998) directed by David Lynch. If one were to classify the genre of thi s film, one would probably say horror (given the anxiety, te nsions, or uneasy mood s of the film) or fantasy prison cell). Bu t the horror and fantasy elements relate to the erotic obsessions of the f ilm, which otherwise ground t he film in a concrete sense of dramatic realism Lost Highway is a good example of an unclassifiable film. The best films, including 2001 and Solaris are simil arly unclassifiable in the end. 6 Thematically, 2001 and Solaris can be seen as dealing with ma destruction but also the will to curb this instinct. 7 The control or loss as in dehumanization of personality is clearly central to 2001 and Solaris as well The survival of the Earth may not be as paramount in either film, but cosmos) clearly is in both films 8 Many science fiction critics including Brian Aldiss, co author of an encyclopedic history of the genre, Trillion Year Spree Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus circumstances may be unusual because not only is he a perspicuous critic of the genre but also one of its major creative writers. Nevertheless, science fiction in fragme nted form Republic may also be an example of a philosophical work of science fiction or at least the earliest known generic relation, a
117 utopia Other critics such as Carlos Clemens in An Illustrated Histor y of Horror and Science Fiction Films ( who on the same page traces the genre back to H.G. Wells), have (note especially Book III.) as the original literary source of the genre (119) Such arguments appear academic and fruitless. More importantly, I think it would be helpful to distinguish modern from earlier or neo /classical science fiction, which is again beyond the scope of this essay. Frankenstein may be the literary originator of the genre, but the twentieth and early twenty Frankenstein and more specifically the Frankenstein myth or story immeasur ably influenced not only modern science fiction but science fiction films in particular. 9 According to http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/science definition.html science come How do we define science? According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary truths of the operation of general laws, especially as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical What does that really mean? Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study o r the knowledge gained from it. In the latter sense any formal study or discipline of learning could be considered a science Perhaps the most general description is that the purpose of science is to produce useful useful models of reality as much any hard science. The key difference between science and the humanities seems to be the scientific method, as the w to apply the scientific method to the study of the humanities or human experience, perception, or art, although some myth critics like Northrop Fr ye in his Anatomy of Criticism and structuralist critics like Tzvetan Todorov in The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre have tried more or less successfully to do just that. 10 Gregg Rickman in his editorial introduction to The Science Fi ction Film Reader attempts to distinguish science fiction films from what Geoff King and others have called xv ) awareness of the film image engaging t ). In the cinema of
118 drama, but remains aware of the act of looking, the excitement of curiosity and its Jurassic Park (1991) as an example of the cinema of attractions. Presumably more complex and unconventional films like 2001 and Solaris exemplify science fiction films rather than the cinema of attractions. that the distinction between science fiction cinema and the cinema of attractions does not exist. The argument that science fiction films contain a narrative whereas the cinema of attractions displace narrative and emphasize visual spectacle instead is no t only problematic but specious. All films including abstract ones represent narratives. Robert Kolker notes that 2001 contains Film Analysis 608; A Cinema of Loneliness 115 117). Does this m ake 2001 classifiable as a ci nema of attractions? 2001 contains a narrative that is for all practical purposes indistinguishable fr om its spectacular imagery (not to mention non diegetic music) 11 The alien in Invasion of the Body Snatchers subjugates, d estroys, and replaces the individual huma n his or her personality while retaining the physical appearance of the original human model. In addition, th e alien apparently even desires and obtains human ugh it lacks human initiative, independence, creativity, imagination, and emotion the very things that make us human. Clarens comments in An Illustrated History of Horror and Science Fiction Films ultimate horror in science fiction is neither death or destruction but dehumanization, a state in which emotional life is suspended, in which the individual is deprived of erty, subliminal mind bending, or fiction films during or shortly after the Korean War (134): for example, The Manchurian Candidate an underrated science fiction film d irected by John Frankenheimer ( who also directed a science fiction film dealing with a similar topic in the mid 1960s titled Seconds ). But the point is that in films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers th e alien literally appears in human form. A more c omplex precursor to 2001 than Invasion of the Body Snatchers Forbidden Planet (1956), suggests a related theme. The alien Krell have long since disappeared on planet Altair IV, but Dr. Morbius, a human philologist, learns to read their langu age and understand their incredible technology. Unfortunately, one such technological device, which also destroyed the Krell, creates an alien monster from Ostrow that destroys an yone who opposes Morbius or threatens his control over his beautiful daughter, Alta. The alien in this 1950s science fiction film is not so much alien after all but a human projection created from the human mind as monstrous as it is, the monster is quite human. This integration of the alien (technology) with the human (agent)
119 calls into question and complicates the strict alien/human dichotomy that most 1950s science fiction films, including This Island Earth simplistically represent. 12 Written in a pl ayful tone, Wessel assumes a male dominated view of science fiction films. Until relatively recently the science fiction genre has largely been a male dominated genre in terms of male characters or heroes and a male fan base. 2001 has very few female chara cters and no lead female characters. Solaris on the other hand, has Hari, a major female character, although Hari is not technically a woman but an alien 13 Conventional science fiction fil ms in this respect tend to ascribe human be havior to aliens ; if such beings do exist, they would not likely possess behavior humans can possibly understand (Wessel 182). For that matter, genuine aliens would not likely e 14 The Thing from Another World (1951) may have been the original science fiction cinema blueprint in this case. Because the alien is the star attraction in conventional science fiction films, its frequent appe arance also tends to trivialize the alien and diminish its potential symbolism. The alien is stripped of any mystery and comprehended simply as an evil creature that must be dispatched for the good of planet Earth and all humans or, at least, anti Communis t Americans. 15 This Island Earth and Planet of Storms may or may not have influenced Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky. I conjecture that at the v ery least Tarkovsky was probably aware of Planet of Storms The reason for my asserting the latter is base d on probable numbers. Dozens if not hundreds of American science fiction films of highly various quality were made from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s, but probably a dozen or less films in the genre were made in the Soviet Union during this time. Robert Kolker in his essay on 2001 in Film Analysis specifically comments on the influence earlier science fiction films had on Stanley Kubrick. Kolker considers William Things to Come (1936) the only film H.G. Wells had a direct hand in shaping and whi a prototype for thoughtful science fiction cinema (605). The latter film is concerned with the evolution of humanity, a major theme in 2001 Destination Moon (1950) that apparently had the m ost impact on Kubrick. The documentary like Destination : Moon influenced 2001 not only in terms of its technical, visual, and spectacular imagery, but it also impressed e in filming 2001 complexity and visual splendor, not to mention mystery, that no other science fiction film Solaris which premiered only a few years after 2001 Blade Runner (1982), I believe Kubrick succeeded in his ambition.
120 16 2001 was filmed in London with primarily American and Bri tish actors and production crew. Kubrick was American but resided for a long period of time in England and made a num ber of films in the London studios 17 Produced by DEFA studios (Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft or G erman Film Joint Stock Company), The Silent Star ( Der schweigende Stern 1960), an East German Polish col laboration, preceded Solaris as being the first film adapted from a Stanislaw Lem novel, Astronauci or The Astronauts novel Solaris was much more sophisticated and philosophical than Astronauci Although Arthur C. Clarke was apparently pl eased with 2001 perhaps because he worked so closely with Kubrick in production and co wrote the screenplay, thus having direct authorial influence Lem was unhappy with Solaris as he complains in an interview on disc 2 in the Criterion DVD release of the film. The Silent Star concerns a mysterious alien communication device discovered on Earth. The message comes from planet Venus (also the setting of Planet of Storms possibly indicating the influence of The Silent Star ). The Kosmokrator a spaceship comp rised of an international team of scientists including one female Japanese scientist, is dispatched to Venus to make contact with the originators of the message. Once the scientists land on Venus, they discover the alien message was actually a plan to atta ck Earth. However, the alien originators of the message have destroyed themselves in a catastrophic nuclear accident. The Silent Star can be considered conventional science fiction cinema of the time with a cautionary message about atomic war. In this sens e, it is clearly related to The Day the Earth Stood Still (1950) and Joseph This Island Earth (1955). 18 Planet of the Apes (1968) since the apes are not alien but evolved on Earth. Moreover, Planet of the Apes w as released the same year as 2001 whereas I am concentrating on conventional films from the mid 1950s mid 1960s when production of 2001 began. Planet of the Apes did not have as long a production history as 2001 and although an unconventional and speculative film in many aspects, its satirical intent owes more to the influence of or Pierre science fiction genre like Frankenstein Further co The Time Machine and The Island of Dr. Moreau are profoundly ironic satires or have satirical designs. 19 The same establishing shot initiates Forbidden Planet (1956) which is a more complex film than This Island Earth and 2001 which is vastly more complex than either film. It is important to note that in all three films the narrative begins immediately after the establishing shot of outer space with a setting on Earth. The ser ies of landscape images in This Island Earth as Meachum flies his fighter plane following the establishing shot is remarkably simi lar to the series of objective landscape images following the establishing shot in 2001 sequence). The outer space/earthly settings highlight the alien/human dichotomy in al l three films.
121 However, unlike all three films, the establishing shot in Solaris is not of outer space but of weeds floating in a river current with a human observer, Kr is Kelvin, standing nearby. The conscious avoidance of outer space imagery and the emphasis on the human/earthly are particularly significant in Solaris and rewriting of 2001 and perhaps preceding science fi ction films. 2001 can be also interprete d as a response to and reimagining of earlier American science fiction films. The first half of This Island Earth takes place entirely on Earth. Although 2001 similarly after the establishing shot, the life of early humans contrasts with the establishing shot and represents in a complex and ironic way the initial alien/inhuman dichotomy. The establishing shot of This Island Earth represents the dichotomy simply (ou ter sp ace/alien or Earth/ human) but then ignores potential complexities in favor of a mundane narrative about human scientists and their heroic opposition to invasive, evil aliens. The establishing shot of This Island Earth is easily forgotten by the film viewer and likely was as quickly forgotten by the filmmakers. 20 Following is a plot synopsis of This Island Earth : Dr. Cal Meachum, an electrical scientist, is recruited along with a handful of carefully selected scientists by Exeter, a humanoid alien from the at war with a neighboring planet called Zagon, and the Zagons, never depicted in the film, are in the process of bombarding the Metalunan shield and destroying the planet. The Metalunan scientists who would conceivably be able to maintain the shield generator or find an alternate power source for the shield have been eradicated. The first half of the film concerns recruitment of Meachum unsuccessful resistance to the alien; the second half concerns Meachum and his colleague and former love interest, Dr. Ruth Adams, as Exeter captures, spares, and then whisks the human scientists away to Metaluna. Exeter apparently hopes Meachum and Adams may still be able to find a power source for his doomed planet. A Metalunan official whom Exeter eventually opposes wants to relocate to Earth, thus suggesting the alien invasion theme common in films like The War of the Worlds (1955) and Don Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). This Island Earth depicts the stereotypical scientist protagonists of 1950s science fiction cinema. The human scientists in the f ilm are good, but another formulaic representation of scientists in 1950s science fiction cinema i s either the mad (Frankensteine an) scientist or evil villain type. Perhaps This Island Earth should be given some credit for including a female scientist as a major character, which was uncommon in 1950s genre films. 2001 likewise depicts stereotypical male scientists without personality or complexity: for example, Dr. Floyd and Dr. Smyslov, or Frank Poole and Dave Bowman, who are scientists as well as astronau ts. The difference is that scientists in 2001 are not delineated in terms of good or evil or simple morality; in many respects they are depicted as bumbling, hedging, and insubstantial that is, as passive rather than active agents when confronted with the alien and cosmic mysteries that encompass them.
122 21 Robert Plank and Robert Kolker argue to some extent (see Chapter 2) that the alien entity in 2001 can also be seen as benevolent and providing. The alien monolith accelerates or advances human (technologi cal) evolution. 22 2001 at the beginning of the film ending (advancing human evolution once again to the next or anot he r stage or creating a This Island Earth and 2001 The difference is that alien technolog y and purpose is fully explained in This Island Earth whereas 2001 explains nothing For this and other reasons, the alien is a much more complex notion in 2001 than in This Island Earth 23 Although exceedingly difficult and complex, Exeter includes a technical manual written in alien but conveniently decipherable symbols so that Meach um can build the Contact (1998) also has the alien intelligence send a radio transmission that contains technical data on how to build an intergalactic vehicle. early influenced by David gate journey in 2001 .) Like 2001 however, Contact questions the The alien monolith in 2001 does not come with a technical manua l and specifications for mystery. 24 This Island Earth shares a predilection for ma. The result of such babble see Forbidden Planet for similar linguistic tendencies seems to be an almost fetishistic sense of wonder about/for complex technology or technological gadgetry. Mysterious This Island Earth or Forbidden Planet are supposed to create an impression of complexity i.e., the film viewer cannot comprehend this complex future pseudo technology because even the names of such mechanical devices are strange and unfamiliar. Yet anothe r and perhaps unintentional result of such nomenclature is that the pseudo technology comes across as ridiculous, thus debunking the complexity of the pseudo technology and reducing it to something sophomoric and cartoonish. In contrast, the pseudo technol ogy is simply named in 2001 and Tarkovsky positively refuses to refer to pseudo technology in Solaris scientific and unsuccessful attempts to understand or posit theories to make sense of the alien Ocean. 25 fiction situations all of which are on ample display in This Island Earth omic strip fantasy An Illustrated History of Horror and Science Fiction Films 128 129).
123 26 E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial Star man. The Man Who Fell to the Earth (1976) is a strange, philosophical and unconventional science fiction film that may have inspired E.T. and Starman Unfortunately, E.T. and Starman are related only topically to The Man Who Fell to the Ear th ambiguity a nd complexity 27 Drawing attention to the inherent silliness of This Island Earth the film viewer wonders why the Metalunans require human scientists to help them in the first place if they can build beads of this p ower, interroceters, and flying saucers capable of intergalactic flight. Even if most or all of the Metalunan scientists are dead, the knowledge of such technology should be available somewhere especially for those very familiar with and using the technolo gy (i.e., Exeter). Rather than unfold in an organic fashion, the plot seems confused, contradictory, and riddled with inconsistenc ies, the kind that defies narrative logic and reflects the whims of an uncertain story or direction unlike 2001 which create s a profound sense of myst ery. For example, why Exeter would attempt to kill Meachum and Adams along with the other human scientists and then spare them makes sense only because if Meachum and Adams are killed, there would be no second half of the film ( set in space and on who is attacked by Meachum, side with Meachum and Adams and help them escape from Metaluna? Why does he choo se to die aboard the flying saucer rather th an escape with make no conventional science fiction formulas. For this and related reasons, This Island Earth is a disjointed, uneven, and at times senseless film. About the only thing it has going for it is some interesting use of special or visual effects especially once the flying saucer lands on Metaluna. Unfortunately, even these 1950s effects a ppear dated. The Matrix (1999) is also a special effects film very much of the late 1990s, but I speculate it will fare much better than This Island Earth despite similar silliness and logical gaps because of the philosophical questions/implications it rai ses. Except for the obvious cautionary message about the dangers of nuclear power and conflict, This Island Earth is as philosophically shallow as a puddle of water in the Sahara Desert. 28 Like the Jupiter Room at the end of 2001 This Island Earth is a comfortable human domestic space that is a prison where the human scientists are observed or spied upon by the alien Metalunans (especially Exeter). Ruth Adams tells gant human domestic space in the Jupiter Room in 2001 is not what Bowman or the film viewer imaginative interstellar journey covering an incalculable d istance Exeter even plays Mozart source music in the room where Meachum a nd the human scientists dine with Exeter, a precursor perhaps to the eighteenth cen tury dcor of the Jupiter Room not to m ention the classical soundtrack in 2001 But Exeter refers to orrects him
124 That is, Mozart belongs to humanity, whereas the inhuman aliens have no need or desir e for (human) music or aesthetics. 29 In common with 1950s science fiction films like This Island Earth 2001 depicts human characters capable of nothing more than banal speech; the characters reveal not o nly speaks in English, he uses home spun clichs that reveal a human geocentrism. For example, Exeter mendaciously introduces the prison mansion as a place where the scientists can ytime a nd anywhere they choose. 30 The alien appears in human form The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Planet of the Vampires (1965) the latter a retelling of Invasion o f the Body Snatchers The alternative representation of the alien in 1950s science fiction cinema is as a monster or in monstrous form: for instance, The Thing from Another World (1951) The War of the Worlds (1953), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), and I t! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958). However, the Zagons in This Island Earth are never shown; only the exterior of the Zagon spaceships are depicted in the second half of the film. By not showing the alien in this case, the film precludes trivializing the alien. Assuming the Metalunan Zagon may be commenting on the dangers of labeling a faceless enemy in absolute terms as evil. Conversely, I believe this interpret ive sophistication gives the simplistic This Island Earth more credit than it deserves it is more likely the Zagons were not shown because the filmmakers lacked either the imagination or budget to show them. Ludicrously, the Zagon spaceships are shown ridi ng behind and guiding comets that repeatedly force their way through the weakened shield to pulverize Metaluna. Why would spaceships capable of interplanetary flight have to rely on controlling comets as their principal weapons? 31 This Island Earth begins with indirect alien encounters but moves quickly to direct encounters. 32 Explicit or belligerent a lien/human conflict is the most common action in conventional 1950s science fiction cinema. One silly shot in This Island Earth shows Meachum punching the M like brain head. 33 Whatever else can be said of alien representation in the form of the monolith in 2001 it is definitely not laughable, silly, or unintentionally comedic. Barring some humor in ilm, This Island Earth is without a sense of humor for the most part and cannot be said to satirize anything including specifically 1950s science fiction films. However, 2001 is not without a sense of irony, as evidenced
125 in the first three sequences, which considered along with the banal conversations of the human characters and their conversations with HAL, can be read as satirizing preceding science fiction films Solaris interrogation and with the human sci entists aboard the space station, especially Dr. Snaut; 2001 and Solaris may be ironic films, but they are not comedi c or humorous in any conventional sense. The cheerful humor and male camaraderie in Planet of Storms consists of making fun of a scientist who collects a blood sample from a brontosaurus on Venus a practical joke on Alexey in which a man pretends to be the tentacled creature who earlier attacked Alexey, and jokes abo ut Alexey who desires to see a beautiful Venusian woman. Other examples of humor in that film occur when Kern and Scherbe experience a Venusian fever. The men mutter imaginative things in an illogical or disjointed fashion; Scherbe, for example, calls out th e planet, so John too utters crazy things for a robot statistics, measurements, and complex mathematical calculations. Insanity apparently affects men as well as robots 2001 can be interp reted as ironic because it is so human; note his pride, anxiety, paranoia, fear and life. 34 Unless, of course, Exeter is an alien being and not human. But the sen timent he expresses about his home world providing light to other beings makes no sense whatsoever unless he has suddenly become human or adopted human sentiments. 35 Significantly, both 2001 and Solaris return to Earth at the end as well. 36 Even the phil never probed. The film is not about Earth as a rare island or oasis in an unfathomable universe a philosophical concept Solaris will take on; rather, This Island Earth is about the self assure d importance or superiority of humans and the Earth in a familiar cosmos. 2001: A Space Odyssey the film concerns both outer and inner space (human nature). 37 Exposi tion in Solaris is presented inst ead in errogation by Soviet officials and scientists. The older Burton plays the video in the Kelvin country interrogation presents more questions than answers and confounds the mystery of the 38 The whiteness of Venus in Planet of Storms contrasts with the blackness of the monolith in 2001 But t he color symbolism of both Venus in Planet of Storms a nd the monolith in 2001 suggests alien mystery and inscrutability. In the early days of the space
126 race, the Soviet Union sent probes to Venus and photographed the cloud enshrouded planet; beside the color symbolism, then, Planet of Storms may be attempting to realistically represent Venus Venus as it was known or thought to look like in the early 1960s. 39 strategically plays again at the end of the film. In addition, the Ear th radio announcer tells diegetic music accompanying Solaris is not at all concerned with nationalism or patriotism, one of the reasons it may have been poorly received by the Soviet government. Contrarily, Solaris is more interested in man (or humans) as a species and especially the philosophical considerations 2001 is clearly represented in the ape o, like Solaris 2001 is interested in humans in space in the abstract the destiny or fate of man, the evolution of man, and the ali en, to name but a few concerns in particular. 40 On board the two rem aining rocket sh ips, the cosmonauts engage in dialectic on space Solaris especially when the cosmonauts aboard the space station engage in similar disquisitions.) With her comment, tempt to reflect on the meaning of loss and death in space exploration a rare thing in conventional science fiction of action t Captain Ilya considers the irony of Cappella But one of th comment in particular corresponds with the official Soviet stance or response. The radio Cappella We believe i n your determination. Put the spaceships into orbit. Specify the conditions on the planet. Arktur Alexey, a young cosmonaut, comments on the undesirability of waiting for the third replacement ship, Arktur to a rrive b efore they descend to Venus. An older cosmonaut Arktur arrives, landing is young, romantic Alexey and the older, methodical cosmonaut dramatizes two different approaches to space exploration a contrast evident also in Solaris T here seems to be some juxtaposition of the official or technical approach to space exploration with th e human or humanist approach. The latter approach (Alexey) can be characterized as romantic, imaginative, individualist, humanist, willing to take
127 risks, and willing to sac rifice his life if necessary for the sake of exploration; the former approach embodi ed by the older cosmonaut can be characterized as official or officially sanctioned, for the good of the majority rather than the individual, logical, methodical, and safe Alexey even volunteers to make the descent to Venus in opposition to sending the r obot and not phot dramatized in this scene is the opposition between the logical robot and the imaginative human, which would reappear i n countles s science fiction films (including Star Trek ) Later 2001 inverts the basic dichotomy by showing the humanization of HAL and the mechanization of human characters lik e Dr. Heywood Floyd, Frank Poole, and David Bowman. 41 Like Ruth Adams in This Island Earth Masha is a somewhat unusual female scientist and lead character considering conventional science fiction films of the period. Highly intelligent, Masha superficia lly ruminates on the issues that Planet of Storms lightly addresses. Her voice over narration reveals her introspection. She has lost a husband or lover in a prior space mission, and moreover she is in love with Scherbe, another cosmonaut on the Venus miss Solaris Masha is also forced to make the agonizing decision about whether to remain in orbit as Kern, and the robot Joh n. In a series of imaginative flashbacks and flashforwards, much like a crosscutting technique, Masha remembers Scherbe waving in uniform in a Soviet parade back on Earth and envisions him suffocating in his spacesuit and washing up on shore alone and helpless on Venus. This dream like sequence may have influenced Solaris as well morphing into his mother. Tarkovsky shamelessly lifted the scene where Masha experiences weightlessnes s and corresponding euphoria for the weightless scene in the library in Solaris contentment. 42 A similar ironic contrast exists in the next scene when Captain Ilya tells his crew: are a report for headquarters. And a well immediately to the image of swirling clouds on Venus again. How can one prepare a 43 Solaris directly or indirectly derives from Planet of Storms Some of the characters bear superficial resemblances in the two films. 44 The film is clearly science fiction because the surface pressure of Venus woul d easily turn a human being into a pancake if the extreme temperature did not roast him or her
128 first facts that were probably known to scientists in the early 1960s. And there are no oceans, of course. The rocky terrain may be accurate. ginal Soviet film is not to be confused with the highly e dited and disastrous American International Pictures film directed ( or re edited rather) by Curtis Harrington and retitled Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965) Voyage inserts an inept frame narra tive starring Basil Rathbone and Faith Domergue (Ruth Adams in This Island Earth ) and cuts out many of the more philosophical or significant scenes in Planet of Storms Following is a plot synopsis of Planet of Storms : After the unfortunate destruction of a third rocket ship, the Cappella cosmonauts aboard Sirius and Vega decide to risk exploring Venus with the two remaining rockets. Scherbe, Kern, and the robot John make the initial landing attempt on Venus with a device called a glider, but an acciden t causes them to crash on the surface. The first landing party is presumed lost but not dead. Captain Ilya decides to leave Masha in orbit in one rocket ship and make a descent with the rest of the crew to search for the first landing party on the second r ocket. The rest of the film concerns the first landing party as they struggle party. The second party periodically encounters a strange disembodied female (alien) voice which sounds like a ghostly but incomprehensible song. Forced to descend in the ocean depths because of a menacing pterodactyl, the second party discovers signs of a vanished civilization, including the stone statue of a dragon with rubies for eyes. Alexey finds and keeps a triangulated stone sculpture in the ruins Eventually the second party finds the first near the red spot, which turns out to be an erupting volcano. Once his self protection program is deactivated, the robot John is lost carrying Scherbe and Kern across a lava crossing the final image of John swallowed up by the lava is set to mournful music but Scherbe and Kern are rescued by the second party in the hovercraft. Reunited, the two parties return to the rocket ship. A Venusian quak e causes flooding in the area where the rocket landed and forces the cosmonauts to take off hurriedly in the Venusian woman. Alexey shouts that they have finally made con tact with the alien but it is too late and they take off. The surface of a pool of water near the rocket landing site reflects an approaching Venusian woman. The cosmonauts reunite with Masha, who has remained in orbit on the other rocket as instructed, an d together they head back to Earth Although I have not seen or care to see Rocket Ship X M (1950) an early scienc e fiction film that preceded Destina tion : Moon by only a few months, the plot evaluation Carlos Clarens provides of Rocket Ship X M sounds disappointingly similar to both Kurt The Silent Star and Planet of Storms
129 spaceship detoured by a female member of the crew from going to the moon and reaching M ars instead. Putting down on the red planet, they discover the remnants of a civilization superior to ours that nonetheless succumbed to atomic warfare, leaving behind a handful of survivors who have regressed to the Stone Age. This would be pawky moral wa rning had all the earmarks of cheap, last An Illustrated History of Horror and Science Fiction Films 121). 45 Another implicit joke in the film could be the mysterious female alien entity Alexey desires to behold his Venus. He does g et a glimpse of his alien Venus (on Venus) when his stone object breaks in the end and he sees a very human female face with protruding horns the latter perhaps a phallic symbol. 46 stay away from the red spot, the volcano site. For some inexplicable reason, they ignore the warning. The disembodied voice actually assumes a corporeal form at the end of the film. In Jungian terms, it is possible to interpret the alien woman as the anima Solaris and Sphere in Solaris Although s novel, I more importantly examine the psychological workings of the human unconscious, especially in interact with monsters, benign or deadly, that are conjured up in the ocean from the memories secreted in the human mind. This ocean/unconscious link reflects Jungian Solaris and Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles floating a n dreams and fantasies the sea or a large expanse of water signifi cean of Solaris [is a] basically benign representative of the other, that which is unkno wn, non Solaris as Meta Solaris Helfor O] Helford would interpret the Star Child at the end of 2001 47 The cosmonauts speculate on what it means to be human (and al ien). Scherbe replies: it requires a special kind of human to venture into space and alien worlds. This turns the
130 reference to Darwinian evolution follows But Ilya proposes that philosophy rather than science/ Darwin can best address questions about human identity whe n it comes to space exploration and the human settlement of alien worlds. Similar philosophical conversations permeate Solaris although the questions are not only raised but relevant to what is going on in the film. That is, Solaris explores the implicat ions of the questions it raises; philosophy and narrative cohere in Solaris Planet of Storms merely raises such questions but they are not relevant to nor do they cohere wi th the narrative. It is mere superficial speculation only inappropriate, heavy hand ed (or heavy minded) pretentious, awkward, and forced. 48 y have settled on Venus before and who have forgotten the technological know how of interplanetary space flight Ironic ally, the human tribe in the film is not savage but more sophisticated, mystical, and well adapted compared to the cosmonauts if we take the Venusian woman at the end as a representative example. 49 The first landing party even suffers from a Venusian viru s that apparently causes an Earth like fever and thirst. And other alien creatures such as the pterodactyl can be added to the list of present or extinct Earth animals on planet Venus in the film. Like tourists in Jurassic Park Ilya asks his party to firs t shoot the pterodactyl with a camera lens and photograph the creature before firing the cannon at the monster. 50 Robot John plays the same Big Band music just before he collapses in the volcanic lava. Although I have no way of knowing if Stanley Kubrick saw the unedited Planet of Storms or even if he knew about the Soviet film, if he did, I feel confident in speculating that Kubrick could 2001 in or similarly sentimental or nostalgic reasons. 51 Venusian woman, etc.). 52 In other words, the alien as monster is evil, does not like human beings, and tends to destroy as man y of us as possible. (Again, Exeter is one exception in a planet of millions repopulate Earth with surviving Metalunans.) Humans are good, do not like the alien, and, inevitably in the end after minor or major defeats or set backs, annihilate or elude the alien thanks to h uman ingenuity or technology or in rarer instances like War of the Worlds (1955), just plain luck. Ironically in the latter film, earthly bacteria de cimate the Martian invaders who have no natural immunities to the bacteria.
131 53 2001 : A Space Odyssey reminds me of a modernist literary actually a rare work in progress written in cl is writing of the screenplay along with Kubrick deserves more than a passing end note, however. I find the film to be more ambiguous science fiction novel on its own terms vel provides too much explanation; i I n dissenting from some Solaris to be more ambiguous and complex than the Stanislaw Lem novel the film is based on. The reason I prefer the film to novel is similar: the novel is a remarkable and distinct literary accomplishment, but its scientific orientation and explanatory discourse cannot compare with the philosophical than the film, but I think the film adequately captures the philosophical concerns of the novel anthropocentrism and epistemological limitations while simultaneously expanding on these concerns through a distinct Tarkovskean artistic f ilter In sum, I believe the aesthetic ambitions of Kubrick and Tar kovsky distinguish the films from the novels. However, in the end it may be unfair to compare an original literary work to a film adaptation. Literature and cinema are apples and oranges: both are aesthetic fruits, but they are not the same thing. Litera ture and film each have their own advantages, disadvantages, and uniquely special requirements (not to mention audiences). And of course a film is a collaboration between many filmmakers whereas a literary work usually has only one author. A film adaptatio n is also an interpretation usually the etc. of the source material. The reason many detest a film adaptation of a beloved literary work is that they do not care for th characters, etc. And, by necessity, film adapters take a good many liberties when translating the literary work to the screen, sometimes using the original source as only the most basic template for creating an ent irely different or original story. This necessary tampering and adaptation irks some people as well wh o may not be aware of the complicated discrepancies between a literary text and a cinematic text. 54 Conversely, I view the monolith as both indicating a literal alien presence and as a polysemous symbol. 55 The name of this ch aracter, the leader of the proto human tribe, is designated by Arthur C. Clarke in his novel version of 2001: A Space Odyssey I use this name to refer to the same character in the fi lm. 56 transformation. Since the last sequence is edited in human representational time and
132 really there is none other we can understand or tolerate in a movie we assume Bowm inhabits an alien space, his transformation in the last sequence may occur over the cou rse perception of time and space is a relative human construct. Johnson and Petrie, authors of The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue discuss a similar represe ntation and confusion of time in Solaris board the space station: scenes follow one another without any indication of elapsed time, ). In a certain sense, the result of the alien/monolith and Bowman/human encounter in the three film sequences lack. Regardless, violence in or to humans seems to le ad to the same consequence. If the monolith is indeed alien or an alien representation, Bowman as exemplary man seems to have the best chance of any in the film of encountering the alien arrative suggestively points toward or leads up to a climatic revelation of some kind regarding the alien intelligence and purpose, but g iven 2001 ndeterminacy, there is no way to know for sure what the revelation means in the final sequen ce or if indeed there is a revelation 57 And it is clearly not so that the alien intelligence can destroy Bowman. Any intelligence capable of designing the interstellar tunnel in the form of the Jupiter monolith would easily possess the technological know how to annihilate Bowman or Earth should it so desire. Further, building the universal transport system for the sake of destroying the journeying alien life forms seems counterproductive. We are left only with speculation. I conjecture that the alien cons tructs an environment appropriately suited and comfortable for the alien form so that the alien intelligence can first observe the form and then alter or enhance the form for some unknown reason. Yet another possibility is that after observing the alien li fe form, the alien merges with the life form in some way. Perhaps what we witness at the end of 2001 human union a new life form or entity. Undoubtedly, Robert Kolker in th e birth but merely/sy mbolically the next stage or just another stage in human evolution. 58 Eleg ant bedrooms in the seventeenth century may not have possess ed modern plumbing i.e. bathrooms. 59 Kolker writes in his Film Analysis : A Norton Reader article that hatever or where ver 610). 60 Kolker again proposes in Film Analysis : A Norton Reader apparently perfect linear narrative of the film from the Dawn to the End of Man i s, in fact, not linear at all, but a kind of ever
133 611). It is possible to read the end ing of the film as determine whether the ending of 2001 is meant to be interpreted negatively as some kind of regression or alien confinement or positively as s ome kind of climax or rebirth. Child, he gazes at the juxtaposed Earth with wide eyed wonder but also, amb iguously, with fear, anxiety, puzzlement, uncertainty. The Bowman Star Child is inexpressive and perhaps even inhuman as blank, Kolker points out, as the monolith (618). A simple (too simple) alien beings who brought him through the star gate. Of course, his change at the end of the film can be f his mortal coil, could have been given new or even perpetual life by the a lien and perhaps he even possesses new powers of comprehension, unrestrained mobility, etc. 61 Kolker points out in his article in Film Analysis : A Reader we look at is filled with images of space and the humans and tools the y use attempting to odyssey and mystery of humanity ( 2001: A Space Odyssey could have been appropriately titled 2001: A Human Odyssey ). Humans are as pervasive and ubiqui tous as space in the 2001 begins si gnificantly in the imag e of man with the primitive ape men and ends with the image of man, Bowman as Star Child. As represented by the monolith, alien appearances are comparably few and far between in 2001 Although shots of the alien Ocean in Solaris are equally rare, Part T wo of the film 62 Kolker also borrowed certain film techniques from Welles in 2001 and later films including the use of deep focus, the moving camera, and long takes (82 distances himself from it, observes it, peoples it often with wretched human beings, but refuses of space detaches the film viewer from the characters so that the film viewer does not amplification of space, the film viewer cannot help but to identify with the characters. For example, the Jupiter Room sequence at the end of 2001 is detached from any kind of discernible human emotion. Bowman himself is remarkably detached from the events ; he does not reveal any emotional reaction to his accelerated aging or rebirth as the Star Child except mild surprise.
134 63 Wessel also emphasizes in this same article the unavoidable anthropomorphism in human thought or art in language analogous to Joseph Heart of Darkness : and perception cannot be encapsulated and contextualized in any of the ways in which ry experience. Despite the remarkable expansion of our scientific knowledge and technological abilities since the too] distant ancestors as they huddled together looking across their campfires at the faces of familiar friends, lovers, and rivals, all the while surrounded by an immense and 64 Like Kolker, Wessel notes the violence to humans which precedes and effects significant change in 2001 and, we may as well add, Solaris of cour se, the latter constitutes a murder assuming HAL is or becomes human prior to his premature termination. Wessel argues for some kind of mysterium tremendum or quasi religious experience at the end of 2001 I believe Tarkovsky, who was much more interested in theology and mystical religious experience than Kubrick, aimed for a similar deliberate effect at the end of Solaris 65 Cambridge Guide to Films: A Clockwork Orange ), Krin Gabbard and Shailja Sharma propose that 2001 is a diegetic music, Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard evokes the mysteries of the cosmos, and signals an alien presence, consequence or effect. Requiem for Seprano Mezzo Seprano and Two Mixed Choir s and Orchestra signaling the presence of the monolith is also diegetic music to comment ironically on the accompanying visual images in 2001 prepares the viewer for a positive or optimistic theme regarding the alien/human encounter; however, the opposite is implied. For instance, the Ligeti music seems at first nce of an intervening, benevolent extraterrestrial entity. But the opening scenes of the film consist of ape men encountering a strange object and dancing around it fearfully at first and then ecstatically after they touch the object. There is nothing myst ical about the opening scenes, and really the alien presence if it even exists is limited to a few sparse shots of the monolith. The sam e Ligeti music initiates the star gate sequence in 2001 but the emphasis at the very end of the film as at the beginnin g is on the human and not the alien. This emphasis is paramount for how we understand the alien and the alien/human dichotomy in the film.
135 Thus Spoke Zarathustra is now remembered primarily because of its association with 2001 But the o ther piece by the other Strauss (Johann Strauss) The Blue Danube is just as important. In particular, the latter seems to suggest the elegance of Moon Watcher hurling h is bone weapon, with which he has just killed a leader from a but the exact opposite ascent into space, oblivious to the very real dangers that envelo pe him. The visual images accompanying The Blue Danube might at first seem to imply that all is well with humans in space, whereas The Blue Danube ironically undercuts romantic illusions. As the film viewer soon discovers, and as many critics have written about, man in 2001 has become mechanized and dehumanized once he leaves Earth, and the ritual violence which bega n with the ape men is reenacted in the 66 The seemingly mysterious or otherworldly Ligeti music in sequenc e one changes to the gently undulating and elegant Blue Danube by Strauss in sequence two. The Blue Danube represents a counterpoint to the Ligeti music. I wonder if this musical representation of nection to what happens to Bowman at the end of the film. 67 Sobchack considers in Screening Space : The American Science Fiction Film : most obvious level, the SF film attempts to meet our expectations by using the magic of design and special effec ts cinematography to show us things which do not exist, things which are highly speculative, which astonish us by the very fact of their visual realization Unavoidably, t hough, the world ( diegesis ) outside the theater very much mirror s the world inside the theater. Sobchack also considers the significance of images in science fiction cinema. She proposes that the images in science fiction films derive their power to indu ce wonder in the viewer [an effect differentiating science fiction from horror or fantasy] not from the imaginativeness of their marvel that there are such things as planets; w e marvel at the fact that we can see them in a way which transcends our own human size and physical limitations. Those images which awe us, stun us, do so not merely because they seem meticulously authentic but because they alienate us from our corporeal s elves, from human notions of time and space. It is in this sense that they are truly alien visualizations although base d on known scientific realities. (101) since the a nthropomorphic gaze is always present whether we are observing the cosmos through a telescope, microscope, or in a science fiction film. Science fiction films like 2001 and Solaris of t c onstructions of time and space.
136 68 Sobchack in Screening Space highlights 2001 subjective robotic vision which punctuates 2001 eye observing the astronauts or reading their lips as they conspire in the pod. Many critics have commented that HAL realizes his humanity while the human characters show the effects of mechanization and dehumanization. One of the most si gnificant and overlooked images in 2001 occurs is the very first shot of e point of view objectifying the human, this extreme close Bowman as the a stronaut comes closer toward the eye lens. This same image recurs when extreme close up. (A parallel extreme close up can be seen in the star gate sequence centrality: to paraphrase Genesis even HAL was made in and reflects the image of man. 69 However, Dr. Floyd specifically refers to the object as a monolith in the film. I am aboard Discovery in sequence three. 70 Of course, the mon olith is neither fami liar nor comprehensible. 71 St. Ex u Solaris which seems analogo usly invested with a spiritual or pur ifying symbolism 72 Unlike a sign in a closed hermeneutical system, a symbol exists in an open hermeneutic al system, one that suggests a plurality of meanings. As noted, Kolker views the monolith(s) as a symbol of or for human evolution. If the monolith symbolizes alien intervention in human evolution, the film would make se nse. However, if the monolith symbol izes natural human evolution instead (i.e. without alien intervention) at various or strategic points in natural history, 2001 contains a blatant error. Human evolution biological, intellectual, social did not occur rapidly over the course of several days, weeks, or months ( as in the time it takes for Moon Watcher to touch the monolith and acquire the use of the killing tool ) but millions of years (129). This would have been a well k nown scientific fact in the mid 1960s when filming began. Sons and Fat hers in A.D. 2001 men could have set such a super is possible At the same time, though, Plank sounds very much like Kolker in viewing the monolith as simply another tool (129) whether an alien tool or a human tool (or both) remains unclear. For instance, Moon hope, and charity. He learns to use bones as tools. [During the famous Dawn of Man sequence] a kind of exquisite slow motion symphony of bones [occurs] as the delighted
137 ape, now homo faber if not yet homo sapiens t he bone tool weapon. Although it may have other purposes, the alien monolith as a tool galvanize s mankind from beginning to end 73 HAL embodies similar paternal qualities or characteristics for the human characters aboard Discovery until his disastrous br eak down; like Chronos in Greek mythology, the father of Jupiter, HAL eats his own by cutting off the oxygen supply for Frank Poole and ship to HAL if it were not seen in the shadow of their against a cybernetic rebel angel or mon ster in the mode of Paradise Lost or Frankenstein Contact (1998), the alien actually assumes the ased father. However, the alien assumes a feminine form in Solaris has a feverish dream in which his mother, who expresses concern for him and attempts to nurture him back to health, morphs into the alien Hari. If the alien takes on a masculine and paternal role in 2001 it most certainly assumes a feminine and maternal role (and form) in Solaris dream figur e/Hari as symbolizing the anima in Solaris 74 2001 as a kind of self created psychological prison. Metaphorically speaking Bowman constructs his own menagerie because he is trapped within the confines of his own memory or mind at the end of the film. 75 In comparing thematic concerns and stylistic techniques, Falsetto makes a case for the diversity and films. 76 77 Snaut shows Kelvin how to attach paper strips to air vents aboard the space station in order to give the semblance of leaves rustling in the wind. Snaut says that Sartorius makes fun of S naut for doing this, but Sartorius nevertheless keeps the paper strips above his own air vents. There is also a later reference to night being the best time on planet Solaris because it most resembles nighttime on Earth. 78 Johnson and Petrie in The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky claim a similar contrast exists on dacha and the aural and visual ugliness of the city to which the ex cosm onaut Burton ne se t on Earth.
138 79 As previously noted, many critics have discussed 2001 in terms of the cold st erility of the human characters and the inhumanity in the film or loss of humanity Ironically, the primitive ape men are the most human of the human characters and HAL is the most human character with his acquisition of genuine human feelings or characteristics like pride, paranoia, fear, self pity, irrationality, and even insanity. To err is human, and HAL certainly errs. 80 It is possible to view the endings and fi nal images of 2001 and Solaris as either negative or positive, pessimistic or optimistic, downbeat or upbeat or some combination of any of these. As previously noted, Robert Kolker view s the end of 2001 negatively as an imprisonment for Bowman. Other criti cs again like Kolker (in an excusably contradictory fashion considering the ambiguous responses 2001 provokes) see the end of 2001 as the next evolutionary stage for the human species. Is such a stage a positive development, a rebirth for mankind symbolize d by the auspicious Star Child ? Is it a regression for mankind symbolized by the same embryonic Star Child? Is it even possible to make qualitative, evaluative, or ethical interpretations of the elusive endings of 2001 or Solaris ? I view the endings of bot h films as somewhat beyond moral interpretations or, to most philosophical films in 2001 and Solaris perhaps because of or despite this moral de emphasis especially the way s in which both films highlight the theme of anthropocentrism 81 Kubrick formally arranged his film into three sequences, narrative divisions, or structural units: 1. The Dawn of Man, 2. The Jupiter Mission, and 3. Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite. He ther efore considered The Dawn of Man sequence included what I am the two sequences are functionally or and the evolving state of humanity from the pri Kubrick also inserted an intermission in the film that occurs just after HAL reads the lips of conspiratorial astronauts Frank Poole and David Bowman in the pod aboard Discovery However, the intermission of 2001 seems to be for the strategic purpose of and thus desirous of viewing the second half of the film rather than because of some thematic division or other n arrative arrangement. 82 Although there is a spatial reference in the establishing shot of 2001 there is no temporal reference. This image could be Earth four million years ago, Earth in 1968, Earth in 2001, or Earth four million years hence. There are pe culiar spatial references in 2001 with a noticeable and corresponding lack of temporal references consider, for example, the Jupiter Room sequence that concludes the film. But in the establishing shot of the film, man or even the very idea of man has presu mably not yet evolved at this point in geological time.
139 83 and Sun in conjunc tion and the opening chords of Thus Spoke Zarathustra will also resound at the end. 84 Arth ur C. Clarke represents the idea of extinction much more explicitly in the f irst few chapters of his novel. 85 Bowman is also passively suspended as an embryo in the stellar womb at the end of the film 86 ted throughout 2001 The only exception perhaps is the second sequence where some explanation is given at the end of the third sequence the purpose of the radio transmission is also unkn own. Is it a warning a coded communication, or an electronic command to open the star gate in the monolith near Jupiter? The possibilities are many. Moreover, the quasi religious experience of the early nnot be ignored. 87 It is no accident that Dr. Heywood Floyd is shown to be asleep once or twice in the second sequence and that the hibernauts are frozen in deep sleep in the third sequence of 2001 Humanity is literally and metaphorically asleep in 2001 The only time humans show initiative and appear to be awake is when Moon bone weapon in sequence one, when Bowman confronts HAL in sequence three, and when Bowman departs on his intergalactic journey at the beginning of seque nce four. The Star Child has its eyes open at the conclusion of the Jupiter Room sequence, but there is some question about what the Star is a complete blank. Further the Star Child can be seen as existing in a passive st ate because of the womb. 88 This particular scene of alien encounter represents a sensory synthesis: the visual, auditory, and tactile senses are all simultaneously engaged. 89 The monolith may not be an alien object but the alien being itself. This poses a new and interesting interpretat ion especially since the alien c ould be physically present in all the sequences involving, literally in this case the alien human encounter. 90 We must be careful not to ascribe human or human like qualities and motivation s to the alien in 2001 Truly alien beings would be amoral in the sense they do not possess not possess things such as mammalian paternal or maternal instincts. Since Kubrick nowhere explains the aliens in 2001 and why they do what they do, his representation of the alien Solaris much more complicated than conventi onal science fiction film s and, if I may be presumptuous, more r ealistic.
140 91 Why the alien/monolith would choose Moon Watcher and his tribe as the recipients of the technological gift rather than the rival tribe at the waterhole remains yet another unexpl ained mystery. 92 he present in the film is the not too distant future for the film viewer. 93 shuttle flight to the moon excavation site, Dr. Floyd shakes his head in disbelief and says But human speech or talk about the monolith does not explain its mystery, its silen ce. As if to reinforce this notion, Lux Aeterna ( Eternal Light ) accompanies a disconcerting image of the fragile insect like shuttle passing over a vast alien moonscape just before this conversation The excavation site of the lunar monolith is a very human and inconsequential setting on an alien world but is simil arly engulfed by the alien moonscape and darkness. 94 Since the lunar monolith has already been unearthed and positioned in this archaeological like dig site, the huma ns who unearthed it have presumably already touched it. Note, however, that humans find the buried monolith by accident, an idea supporting human passivity in contrast to alien agency in the film. In other words, the monolith has been planted on the moon f or humans to find; man himse lf is not actively searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. 95 The recording Hal plays for Bowman at the end of the third sequence was intended to be heard by Bowman, Poole, and the hibernauts when they woke from their sta te of suspended animation near Jupiter. In the recor ding, Dr. Floyd acknowledges that the monolith was planted forty feet below the lunar surface and that it sent a radio signal to million year old black monolith has re mained 96 The aged Bowman clearly sees and gazes at the (or yet another) monolith at the end; arm extended and hand trembling, he points toward it just before his transformati on. Critics assume that Bowman transforms into the Star Child, whereas an alternative interpretation may be that the Star Child is another entity all together. Is Bowman the Star Child? Or did the alien entity one in which by something all together alien? 97 N ote the lack of a direct alien presence in all four sequences, including the first and fourth. However, the fourth sequence seems to most closely realize the alien presence. 98 technology leads or in the case of the third film seq uence, a rewriting of the
141 Frankenstein myth, fails humans. Human technology is categorically incapable of understanding the alien in 2001 99 Is it the same monolith as the one at the beginning of the film? Are there instead multiple monoliths? Plank asks the same unanswerable question s Sons and 100 subjective point of view is re established in the psychedelic star gate sequence. 101 physiological and psychological reactions as he passes through the star gate and walk s around the Jupiter Room. Actually, the alien point of view in sequences two and four is and thus prepares the film viewer for the union of opposites ( unitas opposi torum ) of the alien and human at the end. A similar alien: film viewer identification occurs in Solaris Kelvin. 102 I believe this image is deliberately anthropomorphize d in order to emphasize the human concern or focus in the last sequence of 2001 The separate and discrete alien and human identities, which have been clearly demarcated and contrasted throughout the film, begin to merge in this final sequence. As usual, t he alien is implied and in the background, but the human is directly represented and in the foreground. 103 In terms of physical appearance colors the ocean in this scene of 2001 most clearly resembles th e amorphous form of the sentient Ocean in Solaris So similar is the appearance of the oceans that I wonder half seriously if David Bowman is not also flying over the surface of planet Solaris in his intergalactic odyssey. Although Tarkovsky had seen 2001 and disapproved of the cold, scientific, and seemingly inhuman characters, I wonder if he was not subconsciously influenced by the film when, three or four years later, he filmed his own science fiction odyssey, Solaris In some ways Solaris can be seen as and even rewriting of 2001 104 There is of course the star gate/tunnel sequence just before the Jupiter Room, and apparently the alien constructs the star gate for the purpose of transporting life forms. However, it is no t an alien setting in the sense that intergalactic space is not exclusively like Bowman who presumably have traveled or will travel through the star gate. 105 As noted personal memories perhaps he once visited or frequently visited a hotel room on Earth like the Jupiter Room or if the alien simply constructs the room from some
142 understanding of hu man comfort. Why the room has an eighteenth century elegance and dcor r emains a mystery. On the one hand, the Jupiter Room is designed by the alien to walking space, nutr ients (the aged Bowman is shown in one scene dining and drinking wine) and even hygiene (the bathroom). On the other hand, the Jupiter Room is designed to surpass these basic requirements by providing Bowman with elegance an d an aesthetic sensibility in sh ort, a sense of domestic comfort. Again, the reason(s) for doing so are unclear. Perhaps the alien wants to put Bowman at ease, to make him feel comfortable, which will make observing him easier and also perhaps ease his transition into the new life form. But there is someth ing hauntingly alien, unfa room a kind of estrangement that occurs in the alien created human guests aboard the space station in Solaris and the Kelvin cottage/island at the end of the latter film. 106 diegesis whereas the detailed mise en scene, setting, sets, props, cinematography, soun dtrack, etc. are of course designed by Kubrick and his crew. 107 diegetic? There is no way to know. Moreover, the voic es are not truly alien but are recognizably human. One voice even sounds like laughter on the CD soundtrac k Even though communicating in an alien language, the human v oices relate to human centrality or the collapse of the alien/human dichotomy at the end of the film. 108 Prior to this Bowman was shown in the pod without his helmet on. 109 Freud called this not ion the unheimlich Russian formalist critics would likely call this effect or technique defamiliarization. 110 have much meaning in the Jupiter Room, Bowman may have lived his natural lifespan in the Jupiter Room, he may have lived for untold eons in the Jupiter Room, or he may have experiences on the sc reen over the course of several minutes. 111 The size of the Star Child can also be a symbolic realization of its potential or human potential For the first time in the film, the human element is just as significant as the astronomical bodies like Moon, Ea rth, planets, or the Sun. This upbeat interpretation of Child seems to be illuminated by its own light. For the first time in the film, this image may suggest that humans are not dependent on the alien. And, of course, the Sun appearing and shining brightly at the beginning and end would seem to convey a sense of hope, potential, renewal, resurrection, etc.
143 (see Mircea Eliade The Myth of the Eternal Return or Northrop Frye Anatomy of Criticism ) in spring/su mmer following winter or death. ilm is not without significance. One object is usually shown to be extremely massive compared to another, smaller object which the first object dwarfs. Often the two juxtaposed objects are astronomical bodies, such as Earth and Moon, but frequently one obj ect is a planet and the other a small man made object s uch as a spaceship. The juxtaposition i s analogous to cinematic blocking, where the actors are arranged in certain positions and spatial relationsh ips to create various effects. 2001 visual arrangements evoke a sense of significance for the larger object and a comparative diminishment of the smaller object. In the case of the establishing shot in sequence two, a kind of hierarchical r elationship is presented where the Earth is emphasi zed and the space plane de emphasized To take another example, the lunar surface is represented as overwhelming (to human senses) and otherworldly, and the tiny shuttle making its way across the moonscape s uggests the fragility of man in space. Further, t he second, lesser, man made object symbolizes the diminution of humanity in the future In other words, the man made objects are revealingly small and inconsequential compared to the mysteries of the cosmos that the larger objects represent. 112 I elaborat e on this idea in Chapter 5. 113 The three scientists are a strobiologist Dr. Sartorius, cyberneticist Dr. Snaut, and Dr. Kelvin arrives aboard the space station for the purp ose of studying the scientists and filing a report as to whether in his view the station should continue or be closed down. In other words, he acts i nitially as a formal agent of the Soviet government. Kelvin is not aboard. Kelvin is the only human being who makes successful contact or has sustained interaction with the Ocean in the form of Kelvin changes from a cold, detached s cientist to a warm, emotional human being. Both he and the Ocean learn from each other and develop be cause of his relationship with Hari. The Ocean even provides a literal and metaphoric oasis for Kelvin at the end of the film: namely, the alien provides a setting father (homey images of Ear th) where Kelvin can begin anew Kelvin v oluntarily chooses the fabrication of the Ocean island rather than return to the realities of planet Earth or his real home; still, his decision is problematic. 114 death wandering the main corridor. Kelvin even follows her into the cryogenic room ests live on even after the human originator expires. Kelvin also sees a crude stick figure with the word (in Russian) is this same girl who made the drawing. The drawing and word, then, is an alien attempt, even if a childish human one, to understand or represent humans. Perhaps Kelvin also
144 learns something about how humans appear (i.e., childish) to the Ocean. The setting of the cryogenic room is symbolic: just as Gibarian i s frozen in death, so too his memories Hari may attempt suicide again because she cannot be free, an independent being, of Kelvin or his memories. Given the symboli c overtones of freezing, Hari consumes liquid oxygen in one graphic suicide attempt rather than choose some other form of suicide. Later Kelvin learns from Sartorius that Gibarian had expressed a desire to be buried on which is why his corpse presumably is being preserved. However, the setting of the cryogenic, sterile, and unnatural room on the space station contrasts with the natural Earth. 115 I count five Haris in Solaris analogous to the number of David Bowmans in t he Jupiter Room scene concluding 2001 : Hari I. ( the original human Hari deceased by suicide), Hari II. ( the first Hari guest Kelvin encounters on the space station and dispatched by Kelvin in his rocket shi p), Hari III. (resurrected Hari who dies when burs om), Hari IV. (resurrected Hari; dies by suicide after drink ing liquid oxygen), and Hari V. (resurrected Hari; voluntarily destroyed ends with her eradica tion ). Hari V. is a willing participant in her own final destruction. She notes in her final letter to multiplicity of selves or recreated selves, both 2001 and Solaris suggest the complexity of the alien/human dichotomy, and in so doing they complicate the alien/human dichotomy. 116 Tarkovsky may have organized the narrative structure of Solaris in two parts to reflect the primary settings: Earth in Part One, more specif ically the Kelvin cottage in the his initial experiences abo ard the orbiting space station which acts as a brilliant transition from Part One to Part Two; and the sp metamorphosis from em otionally detached psychologist on Earth to pas sionate humanit arian aboard the Solaris space station. 117 The Bach score recurs at three strategic points in the narrative: the beginning sequence, the library scene, and the ending sequence. As Johnson and Petrie note in The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A V isual Fugue the Bach score is associated in Solaris with the Earth or longings for Earth (100 101) and therefore symbolizes the human (or humanity 118 Of course, reeds in a n eart hly river are not an alien life form. But because it is a vegetable life form (and one that lives underwater, which is atypical for a plant) in other words, a different kind of life form all together it stands in marked contrast to Kelvin. And the way the vegetable life form is represented at the opening of Solaris is, for lac k of a better adjective, eerie.
145 119 Besides the director, crew, and film viewer, of course 120 The name is clearly prophetic because Messenger turns out to be correct. Messenger is also the only dissenting voice who supports Kelvin in the scientific group. Ironically, 121 One materializations from the Ocean which the government either denied or failed to believe in? 122 Edenic overtones of the garden are very much present a state of innocence followed Kelvin e mbodies this state of seeming innocence at the beginning of the film: the pastoral garden of the Kelvin cottage represents his state of innocence. When Kelvin leaves the Garden at the beginning metaphorically expelled because o f his clinical devotion to as certain scientific truth he enters a world of experience, regret, guilt, rekindled passion, and madness aboard the Solaris space station. Such a world of experience is g than the state of detached, c arefree innocence or naivet he embodies at the beginning of the film 123 then re turns his greeting, as if this was an entirely new or unfamiliar gesture. Is the young fers t o the children significantly and not just Ke lvin. er when Burton ather if the boy can stay with the Kelv ins for a couple of days After his altercation with Kelvin, Burton storms off; the film viewer does not see him take his son, and since he already asked if his son could stay, it is not likely Burton would take him j ust because he argued with Kelvin (an d But his son appears unexpectedly in the back seat of and white long take sequence when Burton travels through the city and its labyrinth ine tunnels an Earth bound montage of images somewhat analogous to the star gate sequence in 2001 The difference is that the
146 sequence is set in Moscow in Solaris whereas the star gate sequence in 2001 occurs in a wormhole in space created by the monolith. or perhaps an alien guest. Moscow is defamiliarized as Burton continues to drive through the city. The sequence transitions from day to night and, Burton still driving at night in the same cit y (?), the film stock switches from black and film viewer at this point experiences the unfamiliar setting of the city at night as thousands of cars maneuver the h ighways. Is this a human setting or an alien one? I wonder if there is not some connection between this long take sequence and my by the Ocean at the end of the fi lm 124 Whether Kelvin is or is not on the island in the Ocean at the beginning of the film remains indeterminate. In either case or setting, the fog blanketing the land around the country home conveys a sense of mystery and the unknown. 125 2001 also return s in th e end to its establishing shot. 126 Burton arrives at the Kelvin cottage because he hopes to educate Kelvin on the nature of the Ocean before Kelvin leaves in the morning for Solaris. As a psychologist, Kelvin the Solaris space station and to write a report that could determine the fate of the space station ( i.e., whether it should continue to operate or be closed down and the cosmonauts recalled). Burton is concer exoplanet and attempts to make contact with the sentient Ocean. Burton should have known better because persuading Kelvin about the complexities of the alien encounter and subsequent materializati ons of the Ocean is hopeless At the beginning of the film, Kelvin is shown to be a cold, detached, skeptical, and unsympathetic scientist one whose only mode of perceiving reality is based on empirical and quantifiable data. In essence, Kelvin is no differe nt from the scientists who interrogate young Burton in the video. As Johnson and Petrie point out in The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky however, the alien encounter with Hari profoundly and dramatically transforms Kelvin (101 105). Kelvin discovers his romanti c nature and humanity as a result of the alien encounter. Certainly he does not believe in the adequacy of science to explain or rationalize the alien encounter at the end of the film. 127 film ( Solaris ) and helicopter represents a film within a film within a film. The perception of reality is complex and open to interpretation, which may be the point of the i nterrogation video. of alien encounter they play the video footage of the Ocean/garden/child Burton filmed aboard the helicopter. The black and white footage consists of clouds, the Ocean, etc., but at this point in Solaris the screen enlarges and transforms into a present time shot of the Ocean in color
147 captures clouds, strange swirling patterns of the f og, the purple hues of the Ocean, and of the film ?) but this is all The scientists assume Burton was merely hallucinating as a result of sickness combin ed with symptoms of depression. But more to the point is the extreme human subjectivity in the alien encounter; how Burton perceived the alien may be entirely different from how someone else Fechner, for instance, or Kelvin perceives the alien. Camera panning the impassive, unbelieving faces of the questioning scie says he saw the alien materialization with [his] own eyes. implies the elusive meaning of the alien or the alien encounter one that is open to interpretation. Since the alien Ocean makes contact by tapping into the h subjective consciousness this experience cannot be concretely or objectively represented on video (or filmed for that matter). he made for Kelvin on th e space station. Contact (1998) in this instance Ellie alien in the form of her deceased father; they suspect that t he transportation device, a fraud or hoax. The video footage Arroway recorded of her journey turns out to be static. But, as she passionately states in her defense, the e xperience really did happen at least very much a subjective experience sometimes not validated by objective means. Contact concerns the religious/science dichotomy and aims espe cially at the end to synthesize the two opposing points of view. Earlier in the film, Palmer Joss, who represents conventional responds that yes, of course she did. Palm alien encounter in 2001 or Solaris ? 128 lunar conference room in 2001 where Dr. Fl oyd delivers his underwhelming and inadequate speech to fellow scientist bureaucrats. Indeed, instead of the two Soviet leaders in the background, an American flag can be seen prominently displayed in the background when Floyd discourses. Rather than rhapsodize about the greatest discovery on Ea rth. 129 named Fechner, explore the Ocean on planet Solaris in a hydroplane but fail to return; presumably they crash into the Ocean. Burton is part of a search and rescue t eam, but his
148 helicopter does not return, either. Hours later, Burton appears and heads to his quarters in superiority is obvious; as the interrogator points out, Burton is not a scientist but merely a s experience of the alien encounter is not credible. Burton recalls that his helicopter encountered heavy fog th e alien fog associated with the Ocean in e first materialization of the alien in Solaris Close up shots of Burton in the video reveal his underlying sense of panic and disordered mind, which is understandable because Burton is one of the early cosmonauts to encounter the alien. However, the inte rrogator ascribes the phenomena Burton experienced to hallucinations, and most of the scientists seem to agree with this evaluation. Despite the throughout most of the inte rrogation. 130 Soon afterward Kelvin even repeats verbatim the claim of a scientist present at when Kelvin tells Burton, with the claim: has come to resemble a mountain of disjointed, incoherent facts that strain c This confusion accurately reflects the state of human science as it futilely attempts to c omprehend the incomprehensible ( the alien ) 131 This failure of explanation or science is something Kelvin only painfully begins to le arn when he boards the Solaris station at the end of Part One. 132 The Ocean similarly does not ge t the cottage right at the end of Solaris because it rains inside the cottage. 133 Star Child at the close of 2001 134 At this point in the inquest Burton looks up, startled, when a servant picks up a tea cup. Is Burton startled because o f the intensity of his testimony his nervous state of mind, or because he may be paranoid that the inquest and the scientists ar e not real but material guests created by the Ocean? 135 Interest ingly, the young boy in the opening sequence of Solaris is afraid to approach predilection for creating monsters for something it does not understand, which is everywhere appa rent in t he film. The guests are considered monstrous by Gibarian, Snaut, and perhaps to a lesser extent Sartorius and Kelvin. But the real monster is the human mind and not necessarily the alien guests or Ocean. The scientists create their own hells from their own minds in the form of the guests, something a nalogous perhaps to the
149 Dantean concept ion of Inferno or Purgatorio But Kelv just as pleas urable for him as it is painful; o ne assumes the same for Hari. 136 There are many rea the Ocean and presumably died; it could have possibly extracted the memories of a garden and child from Bur ton or another cosmonaut; or it aimed to deliberately disgust Burton and possibly scare him and his fellow c osmonauts away from the planet. On the other hand considering that the guests on the Solaris space station could capably murder the scientists if t he Ocean wanted them to they are physical beings after all and not hallucinations the latter motivation does not seem very likely. 137 Kelvin builds a small bonfire near the cottage the day before liftoff and burns old papers and photographs in preparation for his journey. The scene is an important one. Because it is shot in black and white, there is some temporal confusion regarding when the scene takes place in the narrative; we assume it is the day before liftoff, but the black and white cinematography s uggests it could have happened before (i.e., in the past). Once again, the objective point of view gazing at Kelvin creates some confusion as to who or what observes him at this point. Is it his aunt Anna? A close up (subjective) shot of one of the con sign ed photographs, flames consuming the edges, reveals the image of Hari do some housecleaning. photographs, b ut emotional ties or connections to Hari as well The burning photograph foreshadows Kelvin on the space station. with hi s past and begin anew a past, however, Kelvin soon discovers he cannot easily escape. 138 Conversely, whereas 2001 can be seen to a large extent as a special (and visual) effects driven movie, Tarkovsky was not interested in making a special effects science fiction film. 139 are only three of us. If you see something besides me and Sartorius....try not to lose you r typical human response mechanisms and ways of apprehending reality are being put to on his side the first v isible proof of an alien guest
150 140 made for him. Gibarian explains in the video that the guests are not indications of 141 A later POV shot of Kelvin staring out the porthole represents a different Ocean: this time not one covered in impenetrable darkness, but covered instead in multiple hues (green with a pink sky) and swirling with li ght and currents. The alien ambient cue plays again as Kelvin stares below at the dynamic Ocean. 142 Just before this sho t, a door opens by itself or a guest and Kelvin stacks metallic cabinets in front of the door to prevent a guest from coming in; Kelvin also decides from Solaris veers close to a conventional science fiction/thriller film one where the human characters are stalked, for instance, by an alien monster. However, given what has preced of philosophical reflection, the film never becomes formulaic. 143 Mirrors figure prominently in horror films and especially in films about ghosts and haunted houses: for instance, The Haunting (1961) or The Changeling (1981). And in a sense, the use of mirrors in Solaris is appropriate because the film is a ghost story considering that Hari returns from the dead (more than onc e) to haunt Kelvin. Ra ther than convey a mood of horror, however, Tarkovsky is more interested in the philosophical 2001 to take but two aging Bowman gazes into in the Jupiter Room. In the latter film, the characters are haunted by the specters of our human evolutionary past especially its violence and murderous tendencies and the horrible but ineluctable processes of entropy, aging, and de ath. In a sense, too, Bowman is haunted by the ghostly presence of the alien in the Jupiter Room. opening sequence. The mirror or mirror image in Solaris acts as a kind of reflective learning tool. In the library scene, Snaut makes the perspicuous comment that man is not similar exploration of this concept. The human mind in particula r (the subconscious or subconscious memory) further acts as a mirror reflecting a new guest. Solaris is one of the most reflective films ever made. Kelvin reflects on Hari and reflects on the meaning of his relationship with Hari, and vice versa. Kelvin a nd Snaut reflect on cosmos, and the meaning of art and human existence. The viewer in turn reflects on the experience in the film; the viewer also reflects on what he or she construes to be the meanings of the film!
151 thus has numerous and various applications in Solaris To reflect: Manifest or bring back To reflect deeply on a subject (such as to ponder or meditate) To throw or bend back (from a surface) Show an image of Give evidence of a ce rtain behavior Give evidence of the quality of Reflection: Contemplation: a calm, lengthy, intent consideration Expression: expression without words Mirror image (image of something reflected by a mirror) (http:// www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefo xa&channel=s&rls=org.mozilla:en US:official&hs=4Sd&defl=en&q=define:reflect&ei=hvlsS7P0NZCXtgeQ6JyOBg&sa=X &oi=glossary_definition&ct=title&ved=0CAcQkAE ) 144 Feeling overwhelmed by his cosmic journey and the strange happenings on the space station or feeling sleepy because the Ocean induces sleep Kelvin stretches out on his appearance. Th e Ocean may induce a human to sleep in order to extract memories from his subconscious m ind and so create the relevant guest. In fact, the alien encounter seems to be most significant in a dream state as opposed to a state of consciousness in Solaris anticipates the e nding of the film. Just before Kelvin falls asleep, the camera pans his room in black and white cinematography; as before in Solaris black and white usually signals a flashbac he cinematography therefore appropriately parallels the ret 145 When it comes to the alien in 2001 and Solaris there simply are no concrete answers. 146 The alien possesses agency or initiative in both 2001 and Solaris whereas humans lack agency or initiative in both films. 147 Moreo ver, in the opening sequences of P art Two, Hari displays the human state of loneliness; she cannot literally be left alone. She also demonstrates the very hu man need and capacity for love. 148 Hari searches for her brush or comb initially. She then utters a n incomplete sentence: actually not present in the room
152 y more interesting because p erception including the guests. In this sense Hari is not real, either. Immediately to mean one of the two things specified (or both simultaneously). But such ambiguity allows for multiple interpretations. Indeed, the dialogue generally in Solaris the tip of the Hemingway iceberg (see Death in the Afternoon ) seems to be simple on the surf ace but is actually loaded with complex meanings. The same cannot be said of a conventional science fiction film like Planet of the Storms To consider yet another example of linguistic ambiguity in Solaris after his initial alien encounter and attempt t o dispatch Hari in a rocket, Kelvin confronts Snaut and asks if a copy or repl ica of Hari will come back but not the original (human) Hari. Figuratively, her but not the genuine experience of being reunited with the real Hari. Complicating response even further, there is potentially an endless number of returning Haris since there are so many Haris, she will both return and not return in this sense. In sum, Hari is both Hari and not Hari simultaneously. The linguistic ambiguity reflects this uncertainty. 149 knowledge of the other scientists on the space station as well as the other guests. But she experiences of not remembering or the experience of being a human being? Later Hari instance, the replica Hari does not understand the original Hari; the original H ari did not understand herself; it is impossible for human beings to understand themselves or human nature; the alien Hari does not understand human nature or fails to grasp the concept of human identity, which may, alas, be impossible because such concept s are alien, etc. with epistemological uncertainty 150 Johnson and Petrie in The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky tone dress, the earth/Earth (108). 151 In a scene preceding the library, Kelvin introduces Hari to Snaut and Sartorius for the However, Sartorius refuses to shake hands with Hari, thus signaling his rejection of Hari not only alien properties of her blood.
153 152 If Hari fo r Hari would be augmented and besides, as Kelvin capably demonstrates, sympathy and love for Hari already exists in this scene. Tarkovsky intended to focus on the human drama a nd human perceptions of the alien in the library scene. Solaris would have been a very different kind of film if told from or filtered through H 153 Snaut quotes from a passage in Don Quixote in which Quixote and Sancho discus s sleep resembling death. The human scientists can be seen in a kind of metaphoric sleep state which resembles death (or darkness) because they are unable to understand the alien. To be asleep is also to be in a passive and subjective dream state, which is important for how the human characters relate to the alien. (Note that humans are passive in 2001 as well whereas the alien/monolith is always an active agent.) As previously noted, it is further significant th at the Ocean initially creates guests from th e subconscious mind when the human characters are asleep. 154 Snaut stumbles around intoxicated and mutters philoso phical comments like a fool in a Shakespeare play. He drinks perhaps not only to celebrate his birthday but to escape from his unwanted guest or the intolerable situation. 155 s suggested in the same scene by the close up shots of the pa intings, especially Peter Brueg Hunters in the Snow 156 Sartorius objects that she is neither a woma n nor a human being and tells her : hurts Hari and she weeps from the very human position or dilemma of uncertainty and alienation. As Hari says, she is or has become human. She even offers some insight into the reason why the men have such various reactions to the alien guests. Upset by rkovsky cuts next to an external view of the space station, which is depicted as white, cold, and sterile. 157 snow and foreshad ows the conclusion of the film; f or example, t he burning campfire (which Kelvin sees at the end near the cottage) symbolizes his changing state. The medium shots and close penultimate alien encounter when Kelvin converses with this same young ve rsion of his mother/Hari/the alien during his fever dream. Finally, Hari sees water dripping from the ceiling after the video, which water dripping from inside the cottage that first clue in the end that something is anomalous
154 construct. Perhaps Hari struggles to understand not only the signif icance of Hunters in the Snow but a human (and thus, from her perspective, alien) value. For the s Prelude in F Minor plays during the video; the music reminds Kelvin and the viewer of Earth or human identity. The alien cue that plays during the first close up of the painting merges with the non diegetic Bach music, further intimating the alien/human union of Hari and Kelvin during the library dance and the alien and human dance to a high angle /overhead shot of the circulating alien Ocean (the same shot at the 158 Just prior to Hari an Kelvin staring intently at one another. The emotional state of the two characters remains inscrutable because of their blank expressions, but the shot juxtaposes the alien and human and sugges ts either the impassable gulf or divide between the two beings or each 159 Actually, Tarkovsky cuts not once b ut twice to a close up of Brueg library scene. The second time occurs just af ter the weightless dance and the video Kelvin plays for Hari. The nature of a painting like Hunters in the Snow has a more complex meaning in Solaris The library print is in fact a copy of the original painting, and the original painting is a representati on of an event (skaters on the pond in winter and hunters approaching the village). Thus, the painting is at least three times removed or eight times removed in Platonic thought e or incorruptible idea of hunters in the snow somewhere ideal or absolute form followed by Brueg of the image, followed by Brueg e mechanical reproduction or copy of Bruegel Solaris space station, followed by the human characters in the film perceiving the image, followed by the fact that the im age appears in a film ( yet another kind of representation), followed by the audience perceiving the image in the film, followed by the audience perceiving the characters in the film per conception something is, the more it becomes distorted impure, and therefore untrue. When considering that Hari is a copy of not technically accurate since Hari is an organic reprod uction these ideas assume a cer tain complexity and profundity. 160 These details in the painting convey a sense that not only is it winter but the winter strangles any ki nd of life struggling to survive including the village and the hunters in
155 the snow. Ult imately, these details help evo ke the oppressive mood of Brueg painting. A n oppressive mood characterizes the closing sequence of Solaris 161 Ravens are traditional symbols of death or, in Native American mythology, the bearers of souls between the lan d of the living and the realm of the dead. For examples, pounding action revenge film The Crow (1993) The latter even contains an explicit allusion to 162 The absence of co lor, black, is further associated with death (as in funeral attire) and loss or mourning. 163 he burns mementos of his past, undergoes a profound change, and becomes a new or different character in the film as a result of his experiences aboard the Solaris space station. However, to some extent romantic illusions. This is one interpretation of the ambiguous ending of the film. 164 Ac cording to Rainer and Rose Marie Hagen, authors of Breugel: The Complete Paintings illustrate the same idea in the opening sequence of Solaris assuming the opening sequence is actu ally set in the Russian countryside as opposed to an island on the alien Ocean. However, the ending sequence in the film implies at least two alternatives: First, art is not Nature but man in the sense man creates an illusory Nature. Second, Nature and per haps man himself is an alien construct. 165 I wonder if this has some association with Hari and the guests being not quite alive or Perhaps Johnson and Petrie, authors of The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue would object to the interpretation of foreboding in Solaris As previously discussed, they construe the film affirming. The one Hunters in th e Snow that does not appear bleak or pessimistic to me is the frozen pond or ponds with the ice skaters. There is a real sense of wintry merriment in this image. And indeed, one has to wonder that if this painting represents a harsh The Complete Paintings of Peter Bruegel why half the village or the village children would be out ice skating on the ponds. Ice skating is certainly more of a leisurely pastime rather than an act necessary to the s urvival of a village. Similarly, the hunting may be a pastime rather than an act of desperation; the fact that the hunters caught even one fox in the snow may signify the hunt was a success. And the bonfire in the left of the painting note there is only on e (presumably the village would require more bonfires to feed everyone) may be just an excuse for a warm social gathering. 166 I am not about to speculate as to why Hari either the original or the alien created replicas committed or attempts to commit suici de in the film. If I were to hazard a
156 guess, it could be that Hari merely repeats the terminal action of Hari I., who similarly committed suicide because of unhappiness, isolation, a failure of love or communication etc. I leave consideration of such matt ers t o critics with a psychoanalytical orientation who happen to appreciate Solaris as a study in depression or abnormal psychology of whi ch Hari is not the only victim. 167 and not her are the real H Kelvin tells her in certain terms that he is in love with the new or alien Hari rath er than the original human Hari But Hari does not believe Kelvin. She believes instead that she as demonstrated by her ghastly suicide obsessive devotion and love and refuses to allow Kelvin to touch her in this scene (either out of affection or to console her). To speculate for a moment, the real reason Hari because she is an a lien and not a (mortal) human being. 168 the liquid oxygen rather than from ri gor mortis, which has not yet had a chance to set in, while ice fragments hang from her blue lips and taut face and blood drips from her mouth. 169 Significantly, Burton saw the garden forming in the Ocean. Kelvin lands on an island in the Ocean at the end is happening to the Ocean. Islands have begun to form on minds and extrac the end then, 170 clear connection to your life down the life that the scientists have left behind the alien Ocean since they are on the space station. Kelvin could still feel a connection with the alien Ocean through Hari which may be why he chooses to land on the island at the end of the film. Solaris is layered with ambiguities and unanswered questions. I assume Kelvin chooses to land on an island at the end. However, it is possible Kelvin is compelled to land by the Ocean or even that he assumes he has landed on Earth and only becomes aware of the alien setting when he experiences inordinate things like rain falling inside the cot I assumed Kelvin was back home and assumed that Kelvin thought he was back home, over narration and the corresponding images of the Ocean, I now find it much more likely that Kelvin voluntarily chose to land on the island in the
157 Ocean; t hat is, Kelvin willingly chooses his own alien manufactured illusions rather than reality, which is what a return to Earth would signify. 171 Another indication that the alien O cean does not get certain details right the same thing happens when Burton recounts the formation of the garden and gigantic child during his interrogation. 172 Paraphrased from J.B.S. Haldane, Possible Worlds and Other Papers is not only que quote.org/wiki/Arthur Stanley Eddington) 173 Identification with the main characters is an important strategy in popular science fiction films like Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Trek: Th e Motion Picture True, these films rely on special visual and auditory effects and spectacular images (and technology), but were it not for the human characters including the alien human hybrid Spock in Star Trek these films would not have been as wildly popular as they have been and continue to be. The number of sequels alone in each franchise attests to their commercial success. Actually, Star Trek: The Motion Picture may not have been as commercially successful as either the original Star Wars film or v arious Star Trek film sequels. of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the most critically successful of the Star Trek films. The highly edited version that appeared across movie screens in 1979 and on television in the 1980s does great violence to a great As I note later in the chapter, t Star Trek: The Motion Picture bears more than a few similarities with 2001 and Solaris. 174 Despite or perhaps because of its cerebral quality, 2001 is grounded in a strong sense 175 It should also be noted that unlike the erratic 2001 alien interaction with the human characters remains consistent in Solaris In 2001 t he monolith appears, disappears, and reappears sometimes over the course of millions of years. 176 As in inferior science fiction films like This Island Earth and Planet of Storms it can be argued (probably to a les Solaris trivializes the alien and turns the ambitious philosophical narrative into a conventional love story something Kubri ck assiduously avoided. However the love story in Solaris can hardly be considered con ventional. Moreover, we need to be careful not to propose a singular or simplistic view of the alien in Solaris In its own way, alien identity is every bit as complex, mysterious, and unknowable in Solaris as in 2001 It is true Hari appears to be potenti ally human or a human li ke materialization the O or subconscious memories of his deceased wife. But this Hari is a simulacra not Hari herself as she was, but a new and independent entity. Less Kelvin and the viewer become to o accepting of and comfortable with Hari as a human being, Tarkovsky frequently intercuts close up images of the alien Ocean, the source of Hari. Johnson and Petrie point
158 out in The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky ut of (109 110), which is more in line with 2001 (in the Jupiter Room especially) when it comes to human reactions to the alien encounter. 177 In a typical science fiction fi lm like This Island Earth or Planet of Storms the dichotomy of familiar/unfamiliar is very clear: the alien is clearly and only represented as the familiar (assuming a familiar human form) or unfamiliar (a monstrous, murderous, or destructive creature). I n either case, the alien becomes ridiculous through trivialization; in other words, even the unfamiliar or monstrous becomes familiar in conv entional science fiction films. 178 Mysterium in 2001 Solaris and Solaris the same essay, he describes the Solaris face, which (metaphorically speaking) reflects all light, is at bottom identical to the black monolith in 2001 which absorbs all light. We have come to understand that that we are in the presence of 179 The monolith, a literal representation of the alien, also symbolizes what humans cannot understand about the alien or cosmos. 180 The Martian Chronicles An American family (a m other, father, and their three sons, Timothy Michael, and Robert) remain on Mars after humans devastate Earth in an atomic war. The two boys earnestly want to meet Martians, and the father promises he will show them. The family embarks on a raft moving dow n a Martian canal at the end of the story : Michael was crying loudly, and Dad picked him up and carried him, and they walked down through the ruins toward the canal. The canal. Where tomorrow or the next day their future wives would come up in a boat, small laughing girls now, with their father and mother. find Earth. It ha d already set. That was something to think about. from. We planned this trip year war we would have come to Mars, I think, to live and form our own standard of living. It would have been another century before Mars would have been really poisoned by the Earth civilization. Now, of course They reached the canal. It was long and straight and cool and wet and reflective in the night.
159 shoulder and pointed straight down. The Martians were there. Timothy began to shiver. The Martians were there in the canal reflected in the water. Timothy and Michael and Robert and Mom and Dad. The Martians stared back up at them for a long, long silen t time from the rippling 181) 181 The endings of both films may imply that genuine communication or understanding between the alien and the human is impos sible. Even though the Solaris O cean chooses to manife st itself in the form of human guests its motivation or reasons for doing so remain along with the alien in 2001 an joining of the alien at the end of Solaris 2001 Kelvin chooses to land on the alien island ; Bowman only chooses to enter (probably to investigate) the monolith/star gate and may not choose to grow old, die, and Film Analysis : A Norton Reader 610) in the Jupiter Room. 182 Thus, the significance of the two quotes included at the beginning of this chapter. 183 For example, good and evil: t understood as such without conventional science fiction films an d vice versa. 184 Star Trek: The Motion Picture, t here are some unconventional science fiction films that share thematic or stylistic similarities with 2001 and Solaris I would like to one day broaden the context to consider these other films in relation to 2001 and Solaris They Forbidden Planet (1956), Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969), The Man Who Fell to the Earth (1976), The Martian Chronicles (1980), Dune (1984), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Contact (1997), Dune (2000 ), and Brian De Mission to Mars (2000) 185 The alien (in the sense of extraterrestrial intelligence not in the sense of what the metaphor or mirror image means ) Brazil (1985), and, as I pointed out earlier, Frankl in Planet of the Apes (1968), both of which I excluded from this dissertation for the same reason 186 For example, consider the genre of film noir For every rare The Maltese Falcon (1941) The Big Sleep (1946) The Postman Always Ring s Twice (1946) Chinatown (1974) and L.A. Confidential (1997) there are dozens of mediocre or abysmal examples of the genre. Every genre conta ins the good, the bad, and the ugly.
160 187 Yevgeny Zamyaitin, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, William Golding, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Samuel Delaney, Pierre Boulle, Brian Aldiss, Harry Harrison, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Stanislaw Lem, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., J.G. Ballar d, Harlan Ellison, Orson Scott Card, and William Gibson, to name but a few w ell known authors in the genre.
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A bout the Author Keith Cavedo earned his Ph.D. in Literature from the University of South Florida (USF) i n Tampa, Florida in Spring 2010 His areas of sp ecialization are film studies an d 19 th and 20 th C entury American and British Literature. He also holds degrees in Literature (M.A.) from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and English (B.A.) from the University of Mary Washingt on in F redericksburg, Virginia. Keith is a fan and aspiring critic of science fiction/cinema and horror fiction/cinema. For the past eight years Keith has taught film, literature, composition, and online course s at the following schools: USF; Eckerd College and Saint Petersburg College in Saint Petersburg, Florida; Hillsborough Co mmunity College in Brandon Florida; and Virginia Commonwealth University. He looks forward to teaching American and British literat ure courses as a visiting professor at USF Sarasota Manatee for the academic year 2010 2011. He enjoys working with students in various learning environments including t he large research university, the traditional liberal arts college, the innovative on line environment, and the diversity of a community college. The nature of teaching at various learning environments has, Keith hopes, made him a well rounded and adaptable professor. Keith has had former careers as a communications specialist for an intern ational corporation, senior editor in a publications company, proofreader for a metropolitan newspaper, a nd high school English teacher.
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Alien encounters and the alien/human dichotomy in stanley kubrick's _2001 :
b a space odyssey_ and andrei tarkovsky's _solaris_
h [electronic resource] /
by Keith Cavedo.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains X pages.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
ABSTRACT: The alien encounter has long been a defining and popular subject of science fiction cinema. However, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris (1972) are interrogative, complex, and distinct artistic accomplishments that stand apart from and above the conventional science fiction film. 2001 and Solaris not only represent but complicate the alien/human dichotomy; in the end, they destabilize the dichotomy and even suggest a radical synthesis of the dichotomous elements. 2001 and Solaris further emphasize epistemological and specifically anthropocentric limitations when it comes to understanding the alien or attempting to make sense of the alien encounter. Chapter 1 introduces the alien/human dichotomy in two representative science fiction films of the period, This Island Earth (1955) and Planet of Storms (1962). Chapter 1 provides some contextual and contrapuntal basis for the originality of 2001 and Solaris. Chapter 2 reviews critical literature directly and indirectly addressing alien and human identity, interpretations of symbolic forms such as the monolith in 2001 and "guests" in Solaris, and both films' ambiguous, multivalent endings. Chapter 3 (on 2001) and Chapter 4 (on Solaris) examine the alien/human dichotomy in specific scenes where an alien, non-human presence appears to be present or where an alien encounter significantly occurs. The two chapters analyze techniques such as the significance of the establishing shot and other shots or cinematographic effects, settings, point of view, and non-diegetic music. By way of conclusion, Chapter 5 compares 2001 and Solaris and makes the argument for the differences between-and departures from-the two film masterpieces and conventional science fiction films. Chapter 5 ends with further considerations of the argument and a broadening of the context. This dissertation should be of interest not only to science fiction scholarship in general but to film studies in particular. It aims to provide a sophisticated reading of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris supported by recent criticism in an effort to join in the ongoing scholarly discussion and critical legitimatization of science fiction cinema.
Advisor: Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.
Science Fiction Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.