Lem at Amazon

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My decision to make a screen adaptation of Stanisław Lem's Solaris was not a result of my interest in science fiction. The essential reason was that in Solaris Lem undertook a moral problem I can closely relate to. The deeper meaning of Lem's novel does not fit within the confines of science fiction. To discuss only the literary form is to limit the problem. This is a novel not only about the clash between human reason and the Unknown but also about moral conflicts set in motion by new scientific discoveries. It's about new morality arising as a result of those painful experiences we call "the price of progress." For Kelvin that price means having to face directly his own pangs of conscience in a material form. Kelvin does not change the principles of his conduct, he remains himself, which is the source of a tragic dilemma in him.

Why is it that in all the science fiction films I've seen the authors force the viewer to watch the material details of the future? Why do they call their films — as Stanley Kubrick did — prophetic? Not to mention that to specialists 2001 is in many instances a bluff and there is no place for that in a work of art. I'd like to film Solaris in such a way as to avoid inducing in the viewer a feeling of anything exotic. Technologically exotic that is. For example: if we filmed passengers getting on a tram and we knew nothing about trams — let's assume — because we had never seen them before, then we'd obtain the effect similar to what Kubrick did in the scene of the spaceship landing on the Moon. If we film the same landing the way we would normally film a tram stop, everything will fall in its rightful place. Thus we need to put the characters in real, not exotic, scenery because it is only through the perception of the former by the characters in the film that it will become comprehensible to the viewer. That's why detailed expositions of technological processes of the future destroy the emotional foundation of film.

Interview Dialog s Andreiem Tarkovskim o nauchnoi fantastikie na ekrane with Nikolai Abramov in Ekran 1970-1971, Moscow 1971, pp. 162-165 [anonymous Pol. trans.]