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Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky (1972, Soviet Union) is a film that intrigues the audience with its deep meaning of “human conscious”. Solaris is a sci-fi film that revolves around Kris Kelvin, a psychologist, who was sent to a space station set up near a distant planet which is suspected to house alien intelligence (referred to as Solaris) after one of the three scientists died mysteriously. He later finds out that the nature of Solaris is actually the materialization of conception of a person. It means that Solaris actually probed the minds of the scientists in the station and extracted memories, materializing it into a form. For Kris, the form that materialized was that of his wife, Hari, who had been dead for 10 years. He was baffled and unwilling to believe she was real at first, and even thought that it is madness or a hallucination, but slowly came to appreciate the nature of the alien intelligence.

The Shower of Lights

 It’s that time again. The time when pretty lights fall from the sky. The world is ugly now. These lights that fall every… every… I don’t know, but it’s the only beautiful thing left in the world. Every time these lights fall from the sky, I think of Papa and Mama. Why didn’t they take me along? Why am I the only one left behind?

The lights feel different this time. With every drop that touches me, I feel a wave of nostalgia washing over me. I continued walking, back to my little hut, the only thing left behind by Papa and Mama. My safe haven.

I pushed the door open and went into the hut, but it wasn’t empty anymore. Papa was reading his newspapers and Mama was sewing beside him. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Welcome home, dear.” Mama said with that familiar smile.

“Did you have fun outside?” Papa looked up from his newspaper.

Tears started to blur my sight, and I wiped them off, but they were still there. It’s not a dream. They both stood up and walked towards me. I ran to them and jumped into their embrace. They came back for me, they really did.

A few days had passed. I showed Papa and Mama all the puppets and robots that I created from scrap materials. They smiled and complimented me, but something was wrong and I couldn’t tell what it was. It doesn’t matter, I told myself. They’re back for me and I will love them no matter what.

But the very next day, I realized. Papa and Mama don’t have their wedding rings on. I have never seen them without their rings. The scar on Mama’s arm wasn’t there. The newspapers that Papa was reading only have the first and last page, everything in between was blank. It confirmed my suspicions. They weren’t the real Papa and Mama.

As the last of the lights fell to the ground, I hugged Papa and Mama as they slowly faded away in bright bursts of light.

“I love you, Papa, Mama.”

I was fascinated with the way Tarkovsky portrayed the human conscious. The film highlights the fact that we remember what we perceive of people as opposed to reality. In the scene where Hari was materialized, she was wearing a dress with buttons that cannot be unbuttoned but her physicality was exactly the same as Kris would remember.  This implies that Solaris is inaccurate in capturing the little details, an appropriate reflection of human memory. So, the main question that inspired me was: Is it our consciousness and perception of someone that we’re in love with, or is it the person themselves?

In my short story, the falling lights resemble Solaris, with the ability to materialize memories, although not entirely accurate. At the end of the story, my main character, even after knowing that his parents are not real, embraced them. The ending was my answer to the question: we love both our perception of someone and the person themselves.

 

About the author:

Lester is an aspiring writer who has a knack for writing stories with strong visuals, and is exploring the different writing platforms.

 

References:

RM. 2007. film is love.: Solaris (Tarkovsky, 1972). [online] Available at: http://filmislove.blogspot.sg/2007/12/solaris-tarkovsky-1972.html [Accessed: 24 Jun 2013].

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