Upon arrival to Solaris, Kris Kelvin finds all the scientists experiencing shock, going crazy and worst of all committing suicide over their experiences while on the foreign planet. What they do know about the planet is the power of its ocean that covers most of the planet. the ocean seems to be a sentient thing that is able to interact with the scientists. this becomes evident with the oceans formulation of Hari, a clone of Kris Kyle’s deceased wife. the ocean is able to conjure up beings from the soundest memories of the people on the spacecraft. An older scientists who had been on the ship for a while called them ‘Guests’ and is working on a way to get rid of them since the ocean is able to continue producing them as fast as Dr Kelvin can rid himself one.
For Hari, the only world she knows is the physical world she is in. She has no knowledge of her past in Kris Kyle’s life, that she was actually his wife ten years prior and committed suicide after the two separated. Upon meeting Kris in the spacecraft, she picks up a portrait of herself and asks who it is a picture of. It is not until she finds a mirror and experiences firsthand the resemblance between herself and the portrait that she realizes she is actually his wife. Upon discovering her prior relationship to Kyle, she questions his love for her. She needs to ask questions because her character is based on others perceptions of her. If Kyle was to answer yes, then she would know she is loved as his wife and know how to act back. After seeing a documentary on herself, Hari tries to remember any of it happening. She looks at a reflection of herself and says, “I do not know myself at all” and then “when I close my eyes I cannot recall my face, or yours” in reference to Kyle’s face. Kyle says that he does know himself just as all humans know themselves. Hari knows she is a human and that she is living but has no recollection of herself or her past life because she has not been around Kyle or people in general to gain this knowledge from. This is the first time Hari becomes aware of her relation to Kris and comes to a reality that she and Kris Kyles late wife are different people. If Hari had been around Kyle all their lives together, she would know why the two separated, or why Hari left her in the first place. Her questions serve to get back memories of real life experiences she is not able to formulate on her own. We know Hari is a ‘Guest’, and that she gains knowledge from observing others because of her lack of knowledge of real world experiences. Descartes says that we are dependent on others. We are only individualized because we have interacted with other humans and have come to the realizations through experiences. We cannot live a fully isolated life, or else we would not be; just as Hari would not be if she was not around Kris Kyle. Without Kris to bring up memories and informing Hari on her past then she does not know who she is.
Descartes says that reason is what gives us knowledge. Hari is unable to reason and work through problems in her head and therefore is not a human. For example, she did not know how to open a metal door, so she used her body to tear through the door, harming herself in the process. She would have known to pull on the door if she was able to have learned it at a young age, or used reason to work through the problem. She had not previously seen anyone open the door so she could not mimic their experience and learn from it.
Anri Berton (Vladislav Dvorzhetskiy) is a vital character at the beginning of the movie because he was the man who went on the earlier space journey. Dr. Kelvin was going to go on the space journey Berton previously went on and he watched Berton’s testimony of his findings during his journey. Like many of the other doctors, Dr. Kelvin, despite Beton’s persuasion, does not believe the testimony Berton gave holds true. Some of his testimony matched up with what the camera had caught during the journey, except for one unbelievable image. Berton claims that that he saw an infant that was almost four meters tall floating in the ocean. Despite constant belief that the image was real, all of the doctors come to the conclusion that he was hallucinating and dismissed that part of the report. The doctors went to the camera to see if there was evidence of a child but all that was seen was clouds and the surface of the ocean. Shortly before Berton embarks for his journey, he receives a message from Berton explaining that the child he claimed to have seen showed resemblance to the child of a scientist from the journey.
Even though Berton only plays a role at the beginning of the movie in a couple scenes, one can gather that he has an understanding of his reality through his experiences. Berton uses these experiences as evidence of his knowledge and they are these perceptions of what he sees and what others think about his findings. His knowledge of reality shows some strong resemblances to William James’ ideas, a pragmatist who developed the idea of perspectivism. James believed that there was not one universal truth or theory but at the same time truth was not relative to human beings. Along with this ideology comes the notion that there is not one unified truth because people’s perspectives can be in conflict, and this is shown in the movie. The camera picked up certain images and from those images the truth would be that all that was seen were clouds and oceans. However, from Berton’s perspective there was more than just ocean or clouds and his truth is in conflict with the truth from the camera so one theory cannot be formed. The difference in perspectives shows why James believes that the truth is always changing because the more perspectives there are on a particular subject, the more the view of one can change. James might also attribute the vision of a four-meter child to the feelings of Berton. James thought that people’s experiences change based on their feelings. Berton said the child resembled the child of a lost scientist so if Berton was feeling sorrow for the lost scientist and thinking about his child, then that could have influenced his perspective. Lastly, for James truth is based on what works and Berton’s image of an infant child does not work for both doctors and society itself. The idea of seeing a child during a space journey is not a common or reasonable one, especially when the child is almost thirteen feet tall. The reason Berton’s truth was dismissed is because what was reported does not work well.
For James and Berton, experiences and perceptions about those experiences are major parts of people gathering knowledge about their reality. Berton reported his findings despite contest from both the camera on the spaceship and the doctors dismissing his report of the image of the child. Berton believes his experience is truthful but there still exists the possibility that his feelings about the lost scientist influenced his thoughts and that is what caused him to see this child. Despite the heavy contest, Berton never seemed to waive his faith in his perspective and still holds his belief in its truthfulness.
Dr. Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) is the main protagonist in the movie Solaris. Kelvin is a pensive and disgruntled psychologist who is sent on a mission to investigate the enigmatic planet, Solaris. On the space station orbiting Solaris, Kelvin along with two other scientists, Drs. Sartorius and Snaut, are subjected to the effects that the planet’s atmosphere has on them. One effect in particular that afflicts the scientists is that the strange gases emitted by Solaris’ atmosphere manifests the memories of the men into physical entities who are called “guests”. For Dr. Kelvin, the memory of his wife Hari, who had committed suicide ten years earlier, would be resurrected. Interacting with the newly resurrected physical presence of Hari, Kelvin comes to realize that she does not possess any memory or cognizance of her past life.
Despite this disappointing realization, Kelvin does not slough off his wife’s manifestation. In sharp, direct contrast to the way in which Dr. Sartorius harshly and inhumanely treats his “guests” in his laboratory, Kelvin engages in a full, human interaction with the manifestation of his wife even though she is not truly real. As Sartorius dismisses Hari as a mere “mechanical representation” when they are in the library, Kelvin sees her as more than just the lab specimen Sartorius views the “guests” as. Dr. Kelvin experiences the same emotions and feelings that he did when he was on Earth with his wife ten years prior while he is on the space station with Hari’s manifestation. When Hari kills herself on the space station by consuming liquid oxygen, Kelvin feels the tantamount psychological trauma and sadness that he experienced when he found his wife dead on Earth. This is where we are able to view how Kris Kelvin sees his own reality. To him, it does not matter whether it is Hari herself or a hallucinatory representation of her. Kelvin recognizes his reality subjectively via the emotions and memories he experiences and develops, not the cold, objective way in which scientific inquiry tries to make sense of the world.
Dr. Kelvin’s subjective perception of his reality bears strong semblance to William James’ view of reality. As both a pragmatist and perspectivist, James believed in the notion that the universe holds no concrete truths due to the innumerable perceptions of its inhabitants. For instance, James would say that if a certain viewpoint works for somebody, then it can be claimed to be true because it is pragmatic and functions for that person. In Solaris, this same concept can be applied to the question of whether Hari’s manifestation is real or not. To Dr. Sartorius, he views her as not real, but as a “mechanical representation” of the memory. On the other hand, Dr. Kelvin sees Hari on the space station as tangible as he did when she was alive on Earth. This is because he values the emotional connection and holds this as a stronger indicator of reality than Sartorius’ objective and scientific perception. Based on James’ theory of perceptionism, both men’s answers to Hari’s palpability or lack thereof would be seen to be pragmatic and equally plausible.