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Solaris Station

Brumous

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Solaris Station

Solaris_Station_front.jpg



Brief Synopsis
A revision of the 1972 classic that removes the most extraneous and patience taxing sequences, and gives a moderate boost to the pacing of other scenes, but stays true to the full emotional journey of the main characters and meditative tone. In Russian with hard burned English subtitles.
Original Film Name Solaris
Studio Name Mosfilm
Genre Science Fiction
Fanedit Type TrueFan Edit
Original Running Time 167 minutes
Original Release Date March 1972
Fanedit Running Time 130 minutes
Fanedit Release Date April 2011
Amount of time cut. 37 minutes

Intention
To reduce tortuously dull sequences, overextended takes, distracting digressions, and pretentious philosophizing. At the same time, to respect the artistic vision, the character development and the languorous and reflective tone. To focus the story on Solaris Station and the psychology of alien contact and lessen the attention on minor characters. To offer a more refined and entertaining version that appeals to a wider audience.
Edit Details
A psychologist is sent to investigate a failed scientific mission in orbit over the sentient ocean planet of Solaris, but becomes involved in a very personal and mystifying odyssey of alien contact.

Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 Russian film has been called a “sci-fi masterpiece,” and “excruciatingly boring” also. This edit takes the original as a diamond in the rough. Solaris is one of the most literary and thoughtful science fiction movies ever made. With some careful cutting and polishing a real gem can emerge.

The movie has interesting challenges for a faneditor. The director's style uses a lot of extra long, extra slow takes that are tough to manipulate without losing continuity. The soundtrack is monophonic and the subtitles are an extra layer to juggle. On the other hand there is a lot to work with. Whole sequences can be deleted without affecting the plot in the least. The long slow pans and zooms provide many good spots for trims.

Hard core Tarkovsky fans might really hate this edit. And if your idea of top quality entertainment is Transformers style nonstop action and quick cuts, this edit is definitely not your cup of tea. It is still an old-school foreign movie that is long and slow, with characters who talk a lot about their relationships to each other.

The 2002 Criterion DVD switches from color to black and white at arbitrary moments, which makes the whole movie more confusing. This fanedit standardizes the coloring scheme. Color sequences are in the present. Black and white sequences are in the past, or on video, or in a dream or memory. The black and white sequences that were colored have been tinted blue. It's interesting that the Criterion Blu-Ray that is coming out in May 2011 will also tint the black and white to blue, but they don't say if there is any logic to the recoloring scheme.

Also, the original film is cursed with an lousy splicing job. There are many, many splices that make the picture jump and distort. It's especially bad in a film like Solaris that has so many slow, deliberate shots where bad splices really stand out. They make the film distracting and unsettling but not in a good way. Many of these bad splices have been fixed by cutting or patching. It is painstaking work but worth it to see a smoother, more stable look.
Cut-List
- Created new Mosfilm logo.
- Deleted Russian language credits from the beginning of the movie.
- Added credits to opening nature walk (the primary actors and crew only).
- Cut line “He wanted to run away when he saw me.” Makes no sense in the context.
- Cut nameless boy meeting nameless girl. A needless distraction.
- Changed translation to “the station might be moved from Solaris’ orbit” to communicate better that Burton is opposed to moving the station.
- Trimmed thundershower sequence for better pacing.
- Changed translation to “I've already seen it before.” If father had seen the testimony “many times,” his son would probably know about it by now. It makes more sense that Burton's testimony was an embarrassing episode that everyone wanted to forget.
- Cut large chunks of Burton's testimony and reactions from the other officials and scientists, and rearranged the remaining scenes. No more contradictory statement that the expedition will be terminated. The sequence now covers just the essential points: how Solaris affected Burton's mental balance, and the skepticism he received from the expedition's managers.
- As Kris stares at portrait of his mother, fade to a live shot of her. Adds interest to a long take and gives a better idea of his internal thoughts.
- Cut boy's encounter with scary horse.
- Trimmed shot of father weakly calling to an absent Kris. Less confusing now that father stays in character as a strong personality.
- Cut line “You're jealous he's going to bury me.” That's overkill on the family psychodrama. Keep focus on the astronaut and his mission.
- Cut TV program about Solaris and replaced with a brief, invented show. In this edit, the Solaris expedition is old news, no longer important enough to rate a TV program. Also, the sequence is an unnecessary and excessive info dump. The invented show uses a deleted scene of burning scraps in a mirrored room and new music.
- Improved some translations about Fechner and his orphaned son.
- Cut all windshield shots of cars driving on freeways. The much shorter sequence now focuses on a worried Burton in his driverless car, tinted purple to match the sky, and the grimy, rushed city of the future.
- Cut almost all of the farewell “burning papers” sequence. In this edit the trip to Solaris is not very time consuming and Kris's farewell is not forever. This is consistent with Burton, who returned to Earth and testified about Solaris soon after his experience there. Also the acting is poor and none of the information is really essential. Only a short scene remains of Kris chilling on the porch in twilight, tinted blue.
- Shortened and rearranged the space travel sequence. The silly, amateurish corkscrewing camera moves are gone, replaced by a few effects that attempt to stay in the same idiom.
- Approach and entry to Solaris Station is trimmed for pacing.
- Deleted line “You've got guests.”
- Poor Kris's awkward and unconvincing pratfall is cut. The guy is a trained astronaut, not Buster Keaton.
- Trimmed Kris's “spooky window” reactions in Gibarian's quarters, and also the one in the corridor soon after. The scenes lead nowhere and confuse the narrative instead of adding atmosphere.
- Trimmed Gibarian in the freezer.
- Tinted Kris's nighttime quarters blue but kept Gibarian's video recording black and white.
- Cut Kris peeking in the mirror. The guy is a trained astronaut, not Scooby Doo.
- Trimmed zoom into sleeping Kris and his awakening.
- Removed Kris ripping Hari's dress. Focuses the scene on his reaction to the needle mark.
- Cut intermission.
- Trimmed capsule launch for better pacing and a more convincing special effect. Cut stunt double on fire – it's gratuitous. Muted Hari's screams to sound more like they are coming from inside the capsule.
- Trimmed zoom into sleeping Kris to move the action along.
- Removed Hari cutting her dress off. Trimmed and rearranged the bedroom scene and trimmed the following corridor scene.
- Cut lines “But who have you wronged?” “You, among others.” Excessive, unclear and unrealistic dialogue.
- Recut Kris's home movies to be shorter and more active, and recolored them black and white.
- Cut Hari seeing water falling from ceiling. The director is implying we are already in Solaris-created reality. But this edit keeps a firmer separation between real and virtual, and we stay in actual reality until the final fever dream.
- Trimmed Hari sleeping.
- Trimmed the crew waiting in the library.
- Cut Kris reading from book. The quote is artful and apropos, but the library sequences are too long and dismal and need to be cut wherever possible. With this cut there is more focus on Sartorious's jealousy and the contention between him, Kris and Hari.
- Changed some translations of Snaut's speech. “Man needs man” becomes “Humankind needs humankind.” Clearer meaning in the context of alien contact.
- Cut Snaut's alert about impending weightlessness.
- Cut most of Hari's art experience, keeping just a few shots to give a taste.
- Cut weightless flying. It looks kinda fake, but the main thing is to move the action out of the library sooner.
- Intercut some remaining shots with the ocean special effect to create a shorter, more intense buildup to Hari's liquid oxygen crash.
- Cut bedroom scene of Kris saying he'll live on the station with Hari. In this edit, Hari becomes more remote and enigmatic, more in keeping with her goodbye note.
- Shortened Kris's monologue about the philosophy of love to keep the focus relevant to the plot.
- Cut and trimmed scenes of Kris in bed with fever, including the mirrored room. We are starting to move towards the climax here and the storyline progresses more quickly.
- Trimmed some scenes with Mama. Muted the annoying sound of the rattling vase lid.
- Cut scene of Kris in bed asking for Hari; instead we go directly to his scene with Snaut.
- Cut entire final scene in library and extreme closeup of Kris's ear. My pretentiousness meter went off the chart!
- Trimmed Kris's voiceover philosophizing as we fly through clouds, to focus on info relevant to the story.
- Added more cloud whiteout to smooth transitions during the final camera pullback sequence.
- Added a final credits scroll to the end of the movie, in English, showing credits that don't appear in the beginning of the movie, and with fanedit credits added.
- And many small trims and technical fixes throughout the whole movie.
Special Notes/Thanks
Thanks to the Fanedit.org community, an unmatched resource of technical knowledge and enthusiasm for the fanediting hobby.
Technical Info
Dual layer NTSC DVD, 16:9 Anamorphic

Software used:

DVD Fab
PGC Demux
headac3he
VirtualDub with Lagarith codec, VobSub and Plugin Pack
Sony Vegas
Sony Sound Forge
Adobe Photoshop
The Film Machine with HC Encoder
DVD-lab
Release information
  • Dual Layer NTSC DVD
Special Features
Chapter selections and trailer
 

Brumous

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The links are posted... PM me if you are interested.
 

spicediver

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A worthy project indeed.

Brumous - have just sent you a PM.

SPICEDIVER
 

L8wrtr

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.info shall be updated today/tonight.
 

havok1977

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Really looking forward to checking this one out, shame the release is DL only... would there be a SL in the future?
 

Brumous

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@L8wrtr - Much appreciated!

@Havok - Thanks so much. I tried a SL compression, and the quality hit wasn't too bad, but it was noticeable. So I wasn't planning on a SL release. If you download a dual layer DVD file, can your computer play it directly, without burning the DVD disk?
 

Gatos

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Im really looking forward to watching this. I gotta watch the original first as I have only seen the Clooney remake. But its always nice to see fanedits of movies other than the usual suspects (star wars, terminator etc.).
 

havok1977

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Brumous said:
@Havok - Thanks so much. I tried a SL compression, and the quality hit wasn't too bad, but it was noticeable. So I wasn't planning on a SL release. If you download a dual layer DVD file, can your computer play it directly, without burning the DVD disk?


Yeah i can do that, I own an HTPC for playback of all sorts of multimedia files on my TV/Amplifier... thing is i prefer my flicks on disk you know ;) Hope you could get a good quality SL out there sometime!
 

Brumous

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The link is now up on info. Check it out and approve the fanedit if you think it is worthy!
 

spicediver

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This edit is superb.

Engaging storytelling through editing and technically very well put together.

My post count isn't high enough to approve you edit but it's amost certain to pass. I'll write a review on the main site when your listing is up.

I've seen Steven Sordeberg's 2002 adpation of the novel about 6 or 7 times. I adore that film.

Tarkovsky's adpation I've only seen once, in a small inner city arthouse theaterette with beanbags and mattresses where, for the first and only time in my life, I fell asleep in the cinema for about 30 minutes during a movie!

Maybe I can blame the beanbags, but we all know that many viewers find the film torturously slow. I found it full of good ideas and with a good cast but too much pretentious dialogue. It's a ripe candidate for a shorter version, created by an editor without Tarkovsky looking over his shoulder.

Well done my friend. You've transformed the film. It's a milestone sci-fi flick despite its flaws and now you've removed many of those flaws. No sci-fi fan now as any excuse not give Solaris at least one viewing.

10/10 from me.

SD.
 

Brumous

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Wow, that's tremendous Spicediver. I do thank you. If you want to post the review, the page is at http://fanedit.org/13755/

Thanks to Gatos, I've found a technical glitch in one of the chapter selection menus. I'm going to try to fix that, but in the meantime the current link will still be available.
 

Dwight Fry

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Just in case it doesn't get approved before that, I'll be willing to watch this and writing the approval review. Only I have a bit of a viewing backlog that must be cleared before it. So, if someone else wants to do it, please do so, but if not I'll eventually get there. :)
 

Sunarep

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spicediver said:
This edit is superb.

Engaging storytelling through editing and technically very well put together.

My post count isn't high enough to approve you edit but it's amost certain to pass. I'll write a review on the main site when your listing is up.

I've seen Steven Sordeberg's 2002 adpation of the novel about 6 or 7 times. I adore that film.

Tarkovsky's adpation I've only seen once, in a small inner city arthouse theaterette with beanbags and mattresses where, for the first and only time in my life, I fell asleep in the cinema for about 30 minutes during a movie!

Maybe I can blame the beanbags, but we all know that many viewers find the film torturously slow. I found it full of good ideas and with a good cast but too much pretentious dialogue. It's a ripe candidate for a shorter version, created by an editor without Tarkovsky looking over his shoulder.

Well done my friend. You've transformed the film. It's a milestone sci-fi flick despite its flaws and now you've removed many of those flaws. No sci-fi fan now as any excuse not give Solaris at least one viewing.

10/10 from me.

SD.

wow, sounds great, congrats Brumos
Hope I get around that edit sometime
 

Brumous

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The technical glitch has been fixed, the repaired file has been uploaded, and hopefully the new DLC will be posted soon.

I'd like to put in a plug for the movie. It is a foreign language movie with subtitles, and many English speakers don't want to bother with that. But if you give it a chance, Solaris will reward you. It is an intellectually challenging, emotionally complex movie that makes your mind fizz with speculation. It is layered in meaning and allusion and is fully the equal of Kubrik's 2001 in that way.

Naturally I think Solaris Station is better than the original :grin:, but both versions have those qualities.
 

elbarto1

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that review is enough to make me want to give this edit a look. I never was able to enjoy the original film but am a big fan of the remake (such a strange concept...liking a remake more than the original) thanks spicediver!
 

spicediver

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elbarto1 said:
that review is enough to make me want to give this edit a look. I never was able to enjoy the original film but am a big fan of the remake (such a strange concept...liking a remake more than the original) thanks spicediver!

Ahhhh, but Soderberg's film is not a remake. It's an adaption of the original book, just as 1972 film was an adapation.

The film's differ quite a lot from each other but the broad story of the novel is still there in both of them.

SD
 

elbarto1

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well either way, I much prefer the soderberg version. easily one of my all time favorite films.
 

Brumous

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See, I think the Soderberg version doesn't hold a candle to the Tarkovksy version (especially when the annoying/boring parts are edited out). It just goes to show that different people have different tastes.

In the Tarkovsky version, the extensive nature scenes and rural cabin provide an important counterpoint to the claustrophobic station. In the Soderberg version, there is no distinction. Life on Earth is equally as gray, cheerless and sterile as the station. In the Tarkovsky version, Kris's family background lends a rich subtext to the emotional odyssey he goes through on Solaris. Soderberg jettisoned all of that, narrowing the plot down to a romance with a ghost. All of the questions about the nature and motives of the Solaris ocean are gone; Soderberg reduces the ocean to a simple plot device that instantiates dreams. Where Tarkovsky left the door open to ambiguity, mystery, and multiple interpretations, Soderberg wrapped up everything with tidy explanations.

One thing I liked in the Soderberg version was the plot twist with Snow. That was well played.
 

spicediver

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Brumous said:
See, I think the Soderberg version doesn't hold a candle to the Tarkovksy version (especially when the annoying/boring parts are edited out). It just goes to show that different people have different tastes.

In the Tarkovsky version, the extensive nature scenes and rural cabin provide an important counterpoint to the claustrophobic station. In the Soderberg version, there is no distinction. Life on Earth is equally as gray, cheerless and sterile as the station. In the Tarkovsky version, Kris's family background lends a rich subtext to the emotional odyssey he goes through on Solaris. Soderberg jettisoned all of that, narrowing the plot down to a romance with a ghost. All of the questions about the nature and motives of the Solaris ocean are gone; Soderberg reduces the ocean to a simple plot device that instantiates dreams. Where Tarkovsky left the door open to ambiguity, mystery, and multiple interpretations, Soderberg wrapped up everything with tidy explanations.
One thing I liked in the Soderberg version was the plot twist with Snow. That was well played.

Interesting. I don't find Soderberg's two main characters in a romance; it was more like unfathomable guilt and sadness.

Don't you find Soderberg's ending fairly ambigious and open ended? I sure do. I also think that Cliff Matinez's ambient soundtrack is an utter masterpiece.

With your edit, I now I like both adpations of Solaris a lot. I don't find I'm leaning heavily towards one or the other. :)

SD.
 

Brumous

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Even though I have a different perception of the plot line in Soderberg's version, I like hearing your and Elbarto's opinions. It is a tale with a lot of different resonances.

I agree the Soderburg version had excellent production values. The soundtrack, sets, effects, cinematography and direction were tight and crisp, finely coordinated to produce a distinctive tone and atmosphere. Reminiscent of movies like Gattaca but with its own identity.
 
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