The Black Narcissus

solaris 5


The terrifying, and profoundly affecting, central conceit in Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris (made subsequently into brilliant, if entirely differing, film adaptations by Andrei Tarkovsky and Steven Soderbergh) is the idea that we are, essentially, how others see us. Although this is hardly a new notion, especially for anyone who has studied existentialism or simply spent time analyzing the human condition, it is still put into very painful relief in the form of Rheya, the wife of the main protagonist and scientist, Kris Kelvin, a man who finds himself investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths of scientists on board a spacecraft that is being inexplicably magnetized, radiated and manipulated by Solaris, the planet the spaceship is currently in the process of orbiting: an insidious, nocturnal, interference that manifests itself in the form of night visitations to the surviving crew members by people that they left behind on earth, many years…

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