The Outer Banks Voice – Stream On: The (almost) dearly departed

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WHAT TO WATCH ON TV

Stream On: The (almost) dearly departed

By Peter Hummers on July 7, 2022

Although lovers are lost, love will not be; And death will have no power. (Dylan Thomas)

The last time we took a look at the mystical 2001: A Space Odyssey and its less than mysterious sequel, 2010: the year we made contact. Today we’ll see how outer space can lead to inner space, and the ties that continue to bind us, even beyond the grave, in a pair of films that match thematically with that of the last week.

SOLARIS

/Amazon /First video /Diffusion /Trailer /2002 /PG13

Solariswritten and directed by Steven Soderbergh, based on a 1961 novel by Polish polymath Stanislaw Lem, has the Kubrick feel 2001, but while it’s located on a space station orbiting the planet Solaris, its setting is the human heart, or psyche, if you will. It’s Soderbergh’s stab at a novel that already had two film treatments, a 1968 Soviet TV miniseries and a 1972 Soviet film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, which Lem didn’t approve of.

Soderbergh had his own vision. (And Lem also didn’t like what he heard about this version, without actually seeing it.)

It’s as mystical as Kubrick’s 2001, which withheld story points to increase the mystery. Lem’s book, like Peter Hyams’ film 2010 (and Contact, below), was about “first contact,” a common science fiction theme about humans’ first encounter with extraterrestrial life. Soderbergh’s atmospheric film, however, is primarily about the divide between objectivity and subjectivity in humans, and the limits of the power of love and memory. Dylan Thomas’ poem “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” is mentioned several times and can be seen as a mirror of Soberbergh’s plot in miniature.

Dr. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is approached by emissaries from DBA, a corporation operating a space station orbiting the planet Solaris, who relay a message sent by his scientist friend Dr. Gibarian (Ulrich Tukur). Gibarian requests that Kelvin come to the station to help figure out an unusual phenomenon but won’t say more. DBA is unsure how to proceed, as the Solaris survey mission has been hijacked and none of the astronauts want to return home. In addition, DBA lost contact with the security patrol recently dispatched to the station. Kelvin accepts a solo mission on Solaris as a last attempt to get the crew home safely. (Wikipedia)

When Kelvin arrives on the space station, he finds the crew dead or missing, including Dr. Gibarian, a suicide, except for Dr. Gordon (Viola Davis), who is in hiding, and a crew member. scary named Snow (Jeremy Davies, Justified), who is loquaciously uncommunicative.

In Graham Greene’s 1939 novel The confidential agent, its main character struggles with psychological scars, one of its most notable being that he “is in love with a dead woman” (who had been mistakenly executed in wartime). Kelvin, a rationalist, dreams of his own late wife Rheya (Natascha McElhone) on the first night aboard Station Solaris, but when he wakes up he is beyond shocked to find her, alive, in the bunk with him, their story together is far from over.

If you have ever reunited with a missed loved one through dreams, this will set you back on your heels. If not, Clooney’s acting and Soderbergh’s direction, cinematography and editing sell it. (And that movie is the only time I’ve seen dreams realistically represented on screen.) That’s the phenomenon: Crew members apparently get visits from loved ones who have passed away. Their inability to understand this (not to mention the nature of reality itself) is alluded to by Dr. Gibarian, again, in a dream, who tells Kelvin that “there are no answers, only choices”.


CONTACT

/Amazon /First video /Diffusion /Trailer /1997 /PG

In addition to source material from Stanislaw Lem and (last week) Arthur C. Clarke, we now consider Contact, a down-to-earth astronomy story that nevertheless leverages our mystical connections to one another. It is based on the planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author and science communicator (another polymath) Carl Sagan’s only work of fiction, which began as a screenplay he wrote with his future wife Anne Druyan for a film planned for 1979 In 1985, the film stalled and Sagan turned it into a novel. It returned to Hollywood development in 1988. A huge project, it finally hit theaters in 1997, directed by special effects master Robert Zemeckis. (Carl Sagan died in 1996.)

The title card is displayed silently on a black screen before a jump cut showing earth, in space, with a cacaphonic soundtrack of overlapping news radio, music, television soundtracks knows what, as the camera pans back through the universe and past other planets. As we move further away from Earth, we begin to distinguish individual broadcasts: Walter Cronkite saying “Robert Kennedy was shot in this ballroom…”, radio broadcasts from the 1950s, 40s, 30s, until we retreat from the Milky Way galaxy and all is quiet again. Then, further on, we see more and more galaxies until they become as thick as snow, and the whiteout fades to nine-year-old Ellie “Sparks” Arroway on her new radio. amateur, making contact with other hams further and further afield – on that night, as far as Pensacola, Florida.

As her dad (David Morse) puts her to bed, they imagine who they might ultimately reach on his radio: Mars? Jupiter?

“Dad, do you think we could talk to mom?”

“I don’t think the biggest radio can reach that far.”

“Do you think there are people on other planets?”

“I don’t know, Sparks, but if it’s just us, it seems like a terrible waste of space.”

Next time we’ll see dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster, five corners), she works with the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) program at the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Radio Telescope Array at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. There she meets and briefly bonds with Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey, real detective), an influential Christian philosopher and author who has the ear of the president’s science adviser, Dr. David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt). When Drumlin closes the Arecibo Observatory, Ellie secures funding from secret billionaire industrialist SR Hadden, which allows her to continue the project at the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico.

Palmer Joss, meanwhile, has become a familiar voice in the media and is writing a book suggesting that humanity is moving away from their phones and the internet to reconnect with each other and, through them, with the divine.

Drumlin offers to cancel the leases at the New Mexico VLA, but not before Ellie and her team finally pick up the signal of a repeating sequence of prime numbers, apparently sent from the Vega star system, about 26 years- light. When it becomes apparent that aliens from Vega (funnyly referred to as “vegans”) are indeed sending us a message, Ellie lands a seat in a machine described by the aliens in which to meet them, supposedly via a generated wormhole .

During her “journey”, she apparently finds herself on the beach in Pensacola, when her late father approaches with a message to prepare for further meetings. A Vegan emissary, he says this decor and appearance was chosen for comfort.

But Ellie is pulled from the machine to earth just moments after entering it, and her story is met with skepticism by the government, which has also contributed time and money to the incredibly expensive project. Joss and the church, and the scientific community for once act in concert against Ellie for the hearts and minds of the stunned and engaged public, and the whole scheme is branded a hoax by a congressional committee, but the public has its own consensus. It’s a great movie with stunning special effects via Zemeckis and tasty food for thought from Sagan.


(Pete Hummers participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to earn fees by linking Amazon.com and affiliate sites. It adds nothing to Amazon’s pricing.)

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