When Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky released the film “Solaris”, 50 years ago, many film critics in the US and – by the way – in Brazil raised the thesis that that science fiction drama would be a reference to the movie “2001 – An Odyssey”. in Space”, a success by Stanley Kubrick that since 1968 still had repercussions and attracted spectators in that winter of 1972 when the Soviet film was presented to the West at the Cannes Film Festival.
It is even likely that Tarkovsky saw Kubrick’s film, which has never been stated or refuted. Even with the fact that “2001” was shown at the Moscow Film Festival in 1969. Both productions are about space travel, addressed at a time of intense race between the USA and Russia for the domain of space technology. But it must be borne in mind that Tarkovsky’s screenplay comes from a 1961 book by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem.
On the 50th anniversary of “Solaris”, memories fly to the day I went to see it with some colleagues at the late Cinema Rio Grande, on a Saturday morning of the traditional sessions, I believe organized by Cine Clube Tirol.
It is important to note that since the early 1970s, the historic Cine Clube held morning sessions at the Nordeste and Rio Grande cinemas, mainly offering works outside the Hollywood industry circuit.
In the year of the release of “Solaris”, the city’s newspapers highlighted the election of a new president of the Cine Clube, a 17-year-old boy, a Marist student, who wanted to be an engineer and was crazy about cinema. It was Enilson Santos.
I’m almost certain that the generation of the then young president saw Tarkovsky’s film still warm, since it premiered in Brazil at the end of 1973. When my class went to see it, it was already a candidate for becoming a cult film.
I won’t say that our twenty-year-old minds in 1978/79 assimilated that slow narrative and filming well, and that it really resembled the context of Kubrick’s work. The difference was in the point of observation of the argument.
Both films dealt with human experiences encountering alien intelligence, one with interaction with a ship’s computer, the other with a second-degree contact. But both about our nature and existence.
I remember the anxiety on the part of the audience with the first long minutes of the opening, not to mention the delay in the credits. The cry of a prankster came in handy when he saw the film’s title in the inverted Russian letters: “Coar pinico”.
For a crowd that came from the cinematographic culture of TV, assiduous in American series and in Western and adventure films, the sluggishness of the dialogues was consumed in good thanks to the permission to smoke in the environment.
In fact, on that border between the 70s and 80s, smoking in cinemas and theaters was the best help for me to not have to go out in the middle of the event, as in some Glauber Rocha films and in provincial montages of renowned shows.
But the movie “Solaris”, which won an American remake thirty years later, in 2002, with George Clooney and Viola Davis, was important for the trajectory of science fiction productions, as well as “2001” and “Planet of the Apes”.
It shows a space station circling around a planet and the mystery of deaths there, as well as an intelligent ocean that reacts to the mission and creates a duplicate of a dead woman. A copy without the memories of the original.
And it is worth remembering that Tarkovsky was persecuted by the Russian communist regime, having to go into exile. He once said that “the cinema is a bitch, first they charge a nickel, then five dollars. When you learn to give, you will be free.”
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