Solaris’ ‘oceans and atmosphere’ as a Character BY: Carolyn Dottino


Why is the planet doing this? To experience what the characters are experiencing you have to think of Solaris as a physical extension of the human unconscious. For example, imagine something. Now what you just imagined, will be expressed materially by Solaris.

The main character, Dr. Kelvin is assigned to replace a scientist onboard a space station that is orbiting and monitoring the oceans of a strange and mysterious planet. The planet seems to be emitting forms of intelligence, which is able to manifest physical objects. It does so by probing the minds of the men onboard the space station. In this case I will argue that Solaris and it’s ‘oceans and atmosphere’ can be considered a character in the film. In Solaris when contact is attempted with the planetary super-consciousness, Solaris’ Ocean, becomes a mirror: a mirror that reflects the unconscious depths of human memory and emotion. As the film progresses, communication with the ocean planet continues and each visual of the ocean portrays a liquid surface that is more turbulent than the next. Solaris’ Ocean is constantly swirling and twirling and changing color. This foreshadows the turbulent tensions and fears of the characters in the movie because they struggle to coexist with perceptions of themselves. While the characters sleep on this planet, Solaris probes their unconscious, vulnerable minds. Solaris helps bring about changes in the personal perceptions of characters. Solaris unravels and brings forth important emotions and memories of the characters in the film. Dr. Kelvin and, Drs. Sartorius and Snaut are subjected to the effects of the planet’s atmosphere and become greatly affected. The strange gases emitted by Solaris’ atmosphere manifests the memories of the men into physical entities. In particular, Dr. Kelvin’s memory of his wife, Hari, who committed suicide ten years earlier now was now back in the picture. Solaris reveals this important memory to help Dr. Kelvin realize more about his past and more about his perception of reality. Without Solaris’ ‘oceans and atmospheres’ presence the characters would struggle to view the major themes of individualism, perception and memory. In addition, Solaris presents inhumane conditions to the characters of the film. In Solaris, humans must remain human beings despite the environment they are subjected. I think this relates to the concept that the modern world has, in many ways, paved over the perceptions of the natural world. I believe the character Solaris correlates to the philosophy of William James. William James was directly related to pragmatism. William James developed a pragmatic epistemology that considered the meaning of truths and ideas rather than theory and abstracts. James’ work revolves around concrete ideas, truths and thoughts. I believe Solaris correlates directly with the James’ Realms of Reality. Sentence (4), “as humans, we are all subject to the distortions of commonplace illusion and prejudice. The different perspective Solaris brings about in the characters portrays why James believes that truth is infinitely changing. The truth is infinitely changing in the film and it is directly foreshadowed in the turbulent, changing ‘Oceans’. If there are changing perspectives on a specific subject in reality, then the more likely it is for the specific subject to change. Truth is solely based on what is most pragmatic. Solaris, the character, distorts the perceptions and realities of the characters and in Sentence (4), we see a direct correlation between Solaris, the character and to the philosophies of William James. From William James’ work I concluded that the mind is not a ‘mirror’, which passively reflects what it chances to come upon. Solaris emitted gases in order for the characters to experience change of perception. As long as the character and the character’s mind sought interaction, Solaris continued provoke the minds of the character to reveal important emotions and memories. Maybe the experiments that Solaris was conducting on the human minds was to observe the humans response. By becoming a stimulation, Solaris the character, learns from the inside what it feels like to be nearly human. Solaris, the character, reveals that the modern world is contributing to a destruction of a distortion in people’s awareness and the conscious sense of the beautiful world. Solaris viewed as a character is an unusual, but interesting angle and I believe Solaris constitutes a major role in the film.

Solaris’ ‘oceans and atmosphere’ as a Character BY: Carolyn Dottino

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