Solaris (2002)

Brief Intro

“Solaris” (2002), directed by Steven Soderbergh, is a science fiction film based on Stanisław Lem’s novel of the same name. It delves into the psychological and emotional experiences of its characters aboard a space station orbiting the mysterious planet Solaris. The film explores themes of memory, love, and the nature of human existence.

Literary Devices Used in Solaris


Movie SceneDevice Example
Kris’s dream sequence about RheyaKris describes his memory of Rheya “like a fading photograph”
The appearance of Solaris’s oceanThe ocean is likened to a “living mirror” reflecting the characters’ innermost thoughts


Movie SceneDevice Example
The planet SolarisSolaris itself is a metaphor for the subconscious mind
Rheya’s reappearanceRheya is portrayed as a ghost of Kris’s unresolved feelings


Movie SceneDevice Example
The recurring image of the oceanSymbolizes the depths of human consciousness
Kris’s recurring memories of EarthSymbolizes his longing and regrets


Movie SceneDevice Example
The crew’s mission to understand SolarisIronically, the more they learn about Solaris, the less they understand about themselves
Rheya’s second ‘suicide’Highlights the futility of trying to escape one’s own mind


Movie SceneDevice Example
Initial malfunctioning of the space stationForeshadows the chaotic events to come
Kris’s early dreams about RheyaForeshadows her later appearances and the emotional turmoil


Movie SceneDevice Example
Kris remembering his life with RheyaProvides context for his current emotional state
Scenes of Earth intertwined with the presentFlashbacks offer insight into Kris’s psyche


Movie SceneDevice Example
The serene visuals of Solaris’s ocean vs. the sterile, cold space stationHighlights the contrast between human emotion and the alien environment
Kris’s calm demeanor vs. the chaos of the stationJuxtaposes inner peace with external disorder


Movie SceneDevice Example
Rheya’s literary quotesAlludes to classic literature, enriching her character depth
Solaris’s changing appearanceAlludes to classical myths of shapeshifting deities


Movie SceneDevice Example
Recurring dreamsDreams are a constant motif, emphasizing the blurred lines between reality and memory
Circular imageryThe circular shapes in the space station and Solaris’s surface signify cycles of thought and memory


Movie SceneDevice Example
Solaris’s ocean reacting to the characters’ thoughtsThe ocean is given human-like responsiveness
The space station’s malfunctionsThe station seems to ‘react’ to the emotional states of its occupants

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Kris Kelvin

FlashbackKris’s character is deeply explored through his flashbacks to life with Rheya, revealing his regrets and motivations.
SymbolismHis interactions with Solaris symbolize his internal struggle with guilt and memory.


MetaphorRheya’s existence on the space station serves as a metaphor for unresolved emotions and memories.
AllusionHer quoting of literature enhances her depth and connection to Kris’s intellectual side.


IronySnow’s character presents ironic detachment, highlighting the emotional turmoil of others.
JuxtapositionHis seemingly rational behavior is juxtaposed with the illogical events happening around him, emphasizing the absurdity of the situation.

Character Dynamics

JuxtapositionThe contrast between Kris and Snow’s responses to Solaris emphasizes their different coping mechanisms.
IronyThe relationships between characters often reveal ironies, such as their professional detachment clashing with deep personal crises.

Thematic Analysis

Memory and Identity

FlashbackFlashbacks reveal the characters’ pasts, highlighting how memory shapes identity.
SymbolismSolaris’s ocean symbolizes the subconscious mind, reflecting memories and identities.

Love and Loss

MetaphorRheya’s return is a metaphor for Kris’s inability to let go of his lost love.
IronyThe crew’s isolation amplifies their longing for lost connections.

Human vs. Alien

JuxtapositionThe human crew’s emotional struggles are contrasted with the alien nature of Solaris, exploring the theme of human vs. alien.
PersonificationSolaris’s ocean is given human-like qualities, blurring the line between human and alien.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismVisual motifsThe recurring ocean imagery reinforces the symbolism of depth and subconscious.
IronySound designThe dissonant and eerie soundscape heightens the irony of the serene-looking yet dangerous Solaris.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene: Rheya’s Reappearance

YouTube LinkRheya’s Return Scene

Literary DeviceMetaphor
Cinematic TechniqueSoft lighting, close-ups
ExplanationThis scene uses soft lighting and intimate close-ups to enhance the metaphor of Rheya as a ghost from Kris’s past, emphasizing the emotional weight of her reappearance.

Scene: Final Confrontation

YouTube LinkFinal Confrontation Scene

Literary DeviceIrony
Cinematic TechniqueSharp cuts, contrasting music
ExplanationThe use of sharp cuts and contrasting music in this scene underscores the irony of the characters’ attempts to escape Solaris, only to realize their deeper entrapment within their own minds.


Interactive Quiz

Question 1: What literary device is used when Kris has flashbacks of Rheya?

Question 2: What does Solaris’s ocean symbolize?

  • A) Outer space
  • B) Subconscious mind
  • C) Technology

Question 3: Which cinematic technique is used to enhance the metaphor of Rheya’s reappearance?

  • A) Fast-paced editing
  • B) Soft lighting and close-ups
  • C) Loud, dramatic music

Question 4: What is the primary theme explored through the juxtaposition of the space station and Solaris?

Question 5: Which literary device is highlighted by the dissonant sound design in key scenes?