SOLARIS Criterion

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeff Adkins, Nov 20, 2002.

  1. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    I've just taken a quick look at the new Solaris release. Unfortunately, I sold off my Ruscico disc, so I'm not able to compare the two directly. First off, the Criterion disc is mono only (as I believe the original film was originally). It sounds very nice for a mono track, although the 5.1 Ruscico disc was very, very good. Even though it's not the original mix, I think that overall I prefer the 5.1 track on the Ruscico release.
    The transfer looks good, although I don't know if it's an improvement over the Ruscico release. It seems grainier, the colors seem more muted, while the contrast doesn't seem as good either. Again, this could just be my mind playing tricks on me. But this disc certainly didn't make my jaw drop the way the Ruscico disc did. Anyone out there have both that can make a comparison??
    Of course, disc 2 is loaded with extras and there is an audio commentary on the feature film. The English dub has been dropped as well (THANK YOU!). Another advantage to this is that the film is all on one DVD-9, and it does not suffer from PAL speedup (although I never noticed it on the Ruscico release).
    If anyone out there has both, please compare for us!!!
    Jeff
     
  2. Bill J

    Bill J Producer

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    Does anyone know if Best Buy will have this title on the 26th? I'm asking because I try to avoid ordering online whenever possible and I'm not sure if I should order it from Amazon or not.
     
  3. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    Bill,

    dvdplanet.com always has a criterion sale going on(even on brand new titles)

    It might save you some dollars, especially now that some Best Buys DVD prices are going up
     
  4. Jay Blair

    Jay Blair Second Unit

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    Bill,

    I've noticed that even if Best Buy gets a Criterion title (which isn't often) they don't have it in stock on the day of release or even close to the release date at either of the 2 Best Buy stores I frequent in the San Fernando Valley area of LA except for the few blockbuster titles Criterion gets a chance at. But maybe with the remake about to be released in theaters, BB will feel there's enough interest to carry the original on DVD.

    I just got shipping notice on this title this afternoon, but since it's being shipped media mail I probably won't have it until the day after Thanksgiving.

    Jeff,

    Sorry to hear the transfer isn't better. I still have my Ruscico discs and though I thought the transfer was acceptable, I felt there was a lot of room for improvement, and I was hoping for much better from Criterion, especially after having just watched Colonel Blimp, which is stunning. I'll try to check back with some comments after I've had a chance to compare the two releases. At least it sounds like the extras will make the price of admission worthwhile for the Criterion discs.
     
  5. Bill J

    Bill J Producer

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    Ok, thanks guys. I'll check Best Buy on the 26th and if it doesn't have it (which is pretty likely), I'll try ordering it from DVD Planet.
     
  6. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    Jay,
    If you're in the Valley, I can't imagine why you'd bother with Best Buy at all. When I lived there, I usually picked up the major releases at Fry's in Burbank and the other stuff at Dave's Video in Studio City. I found the prices at Dave's to be comparable to Best Buy (in some cases even less) on everything except the big A-titles (which I don't buy too many of anyway). Also, Dave's will pricematch with Best Buy or Circuit City. Unfortunately, the people in middle America don't have a choice. Most of them would kill to have a store like Dave's in their town!
     
  7. Bleddyn Williams

    Bleddyn Williams Supporting Actor

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    Folks, you might be interested to know that bn.com has Solaris at 40% off right now. Order two items and get free shipping![​IMG]
     
  8. JayF

    JayF Stunt Coordinator

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    The in-store computers at Best Buy don't show this arriving until mid-December, even though it's available on their website now.
     
  9. Jimmy Nugent

    Jimmy Nugent Stunt Coordinator

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    screen cap comparisons
    The differences in image quality are obvious. Criterion's transfer is the better of the two, at least in my opinion.
    Jimmy
     
  10. -MikeRM

    -MikeRM Auditioning

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  11. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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  12. Colin-H

    Colin-H Second Unit

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    I've never seen the movie, but the B/W shot on DVD beaver is definitely not sepia in any of the three transfers. Sepia is an olive-brown hue. The RusCiCo and AE transfers on this page have a slightly greenish hue. The Criterion transfer is pure B/W.
     
  13. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I watched the Criterion disc of "SOLARIS" this past weekend, and checked out most of the extras. I also have the Ruscico disc, and have seen it many times since it's release two summers ago. I didn't do a side-by-side comparison (see Gary Tooze's screengrabs), but I'd like to offer a few impressions.

    The "pure" black-and-white of the monotone sequences in the Criterion transfer did strike me as somewhat less effective than the blueish tones of past versions. You can see an "artifact" of this in the scene were Kelvin is watching Gibarian's taped message to him (the second time, back in Kelvin's room). As I believe Ted Todorov first pointed out, you will notice that this blueish tint was maintained on Gibarian's taped message to Kelvin when we see the video screen on the wall, but not when the film cuts to a close-up of the screen. That was a bit odd... sorta like those rare blue intrusions during "The Element of Crime".

    And I prefer the 5.1 remix of the Ruscico release.

    There. I said it. I hate the Ruscico "Stalker" remix, despise their "Rublev" one, and have refused to purchase their release of "Mirror" because of remix problems. But I'm a big fan of what they've done with "Solaris".

    Maybe I've just seen it too many times with all the little blurps and bleeps and rainfalls and cuckoo calls emanating from all over my room, but dammit if I don't miss them in the Criterion version. They actually make Burton's ride back to the "city of the future" not just tolerable, but a rather hypnotic whoosh of sounds and images that reach a grand crescendo before the jarring cut back to the serene quiet of the dachau at twilight. In a way - and I realize the momentousness of this admission - it made one of the weakest sections of Tarkovsky's film sing in a way that it never did before. And it did so not by contrasting what appears to our eyes as a dated, clearly 1970's-era cityscape with a "recreation" of an old Russian countryhouse, but rather achieved this contrast almost entirely from the aural construction... by appealing to our ears rather than our eyes. I think the 5.1 remix helps achieve, in some way, the giant contrast that Tarkovsky's original attempt failed to achieve.

    Issues regarding the black-and-white sequences aside, however, the new video transfer greatly improves on Ruscico's, despite a few tears and splotches familiar to us from the Ruscico transfer that also remain in Criterion's. And the red sequences! Perhaps this is my faulty memory telling me that Ruscico's didn't seem as luxuriously bathed in crimson, but our first look at Hari in the Criterion version had a visual power that I don't recall from my many viewings of the Ruscico disc. It's more powerful in precisely the same way as the very red montage of Rublev's "Trinity" is at the conclusion of "Andrei Rublev" on Criterion's release compared to the washed-out, veiled hues of the Ruscico "Rublev" disc. Which is more precise? I don't know, and I certainly wouldn't presume that the more vivid version is necessarily T's preferred version, particularly considering his later work, which he all but drains of any color. But, again, the Criterion version of the final Trinity montage in "Rublev" is far more effective in my eyes.

    But what sets Criterion's "SOLARIS" clearly apart from Ruscico's are the extras. Some of the deleted scenes seem hardly different from those in the final cut, but a few are quite interesting, delving a bit further into the dynamics of Kelvin and Hari's "new" relationship, and seeming to suggest in a more obvious manner that Kelvin cannot escape the mistakes of his past, or his own personal deficiencies, even in the reliving of them (a theme that is fundamental to the story, to be sure, but which Tarkovsky only teased in the way background of the film, and not in the more quotidian interactions between the characters... wisely, IMO). The interviews with the principals do tread some of the same ground as similar interviews on the Ruscico set, but are generally longer and more pointed (less rambling) than Ruscico's.

    Which brings us to the major "scholarly" addition to the Criterion release: the commentary. While I'd have much preferred the subjective, passionate, quasi psycho-analysis of a Marian Keene styled commentary, the one recorded for Criterion will likely be useful for someone not very familiar with the film (or Tarkovsky, or Tarkovsky's writings). For many of you, however, it will seem too fundamental to be of any great interest. And since I know I'm not the only one with a copy of "Sculpting In Time" perpetually at my bedside, the reading of long sections from it is nothing more than rehash made less compelling by the fact that T had little to say about "SOLARIS", and many of the recited passages are thus only tangentially related. I longed for some probing conjectures into Tarkovsky's consciousness, but the closest we got to that were the linking of certain of his additions to Lem's story with his own life -- specifically, T's relationship with his parents and stepdaughter.

    However, there is one interesting detail that the commentary revealed to me... I'd never taken more than a passing notice of the photos of the children in Sartorius's lab, and how perhaps they're related to his own dwarf visitor. A "child", perhaps, at least from the Ocean's perspective of what might define a human child? I found this suddenly to be very interesting, and nearly as fascinating as I find the notion of Snaut's reclusive and sadistic visitor. Mostly, it serves as a further deepening of the mystery, that very unsettling sense of dread mixed with longing that pervades every moment of the film, but it also provides a broadening of our perspective on Sartorious and a further sense of how fortunate Kelvin is by way of comparison. While we don't suppose that Sartorious's visitor is as violent as Snaut's seems to be - perhaps only an exceedingly bizarre mistranslation of an inner desire or personal loss - but just imagine for a moment the notion of some monster from your unconscious mind, some frightful personal demon that you only glimpse in the periphery of your dreams, imagine that this has suddenly taken corporeal form with you, trapped deep in space in a lonely, rickety space station.... yeesh!
     
  14. Jim Rankin

    Jim Rankin Stunt Coordinator

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    Rich, I understand what your saying, but being a Tarkovsky neophyte I enjoyed the commentary. Another instance where it helped me was:

    Just to what extent how Snaut's visitor was so violent - I missed several instances of Snaut's abuse(maybe concentrating on Kelvin too much?)

    I wholeheartedly agree with your spoiler statement and I feel this film is definitely creepier than what it is given credit for.

    Another question I had was, What is the significance of the islands forming on Solaris? I know that something Kelvin did triggered it, but what would the islands be used for??
     
  15. Bjorn Thoresen

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    I believe the black and white sequences are meant to be monochromatic. The color hues are due to their being printed on color release stock -- you can never quite get this to be pure black and white, it will always end up being bluish or reddish. The "color" of these black and white sequences will also vary throught the film -- if a reel change occurs during a black and white sequence, you will often see a considerable change in coloration of the black and white image.

    Different video versions of "Solaris" show large variations in the coloring of these black and white sequences, as do theatrical prints. I've seen a Japanese laserdisc transfer that had certain sequences tinted a deep red, while the same sequences were much closer to black and white in the Fox/Lorber laserdisc.

    So I'd tend to trust the Criterion over the Ruscisco in this interpretation.
     
  16. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  17. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    This just in from Jon Mulvany:

     

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