World literature is famous for many masterpieces and it is not a rare occasion when the plot of a book becomes a basis for a movie. Thus, even despite all the efforts that film directors put to make the movies as close to the books as possible, many details and characters still might differ considerably. Thereafter, the objective of the following paper is to compare the character of Kris Kelvin in the novel Solaris by Stanislaw Lem and that in the movie by Steven Soderbergh released in 2002.
First, it is important to mention that the characters are different. After reading the novel, the initial impression that came to the reader’s mind was that Kelvin focused on Solaris more than anything else. He was literary obsessed with, considering it his main objective in life. As compared to the scholar Geise who fell in love with “mimoids” and spent all his time studying the ocean and its movements, Kris was simply passionate about it. He wondered whether it was alive and thought that it “was not a god”, but just a living creature. He seemingly had a passionate temperament and used to draw conclusions fast. When Kris saw Rheya going out somewhere at night, he could not constrain himself for a long time and finally asked her what was going on. It was easy for him to start a fight with Snow and he “might have killed” him for what had happened to his imaginary lover if not for her request in the note.
Concerning feelings to Rheya, Kelvin in the novel seemed to have more obsessive rather than romantic relationship with her. He felt that she was desperate, but still did not give all his attention to her as he believed she would always be with him. The plot of the novel was mainly focused on the relationships between the lovers. However, the intellectual abilities of Kelvin appeared to be remarkable since he spoke about philosophy and god, impermanence of moral issues, academic and scientific politics, difference between reality and memory. Moreover, Kris Kelvin, as depicted by Lem, approached his visitors directly and with full honesty, trying to get a conversation based on truthfulness with them (Lem, 1961).
The character portrayed by Steven Soderbergh was sufficiently different due to the fact that Kelvin concentrated on the romantic relationship with Rheya most of all. He was desperate about “preserving” relationships he had with her and put all other things important for him aside just to spend a moment with that woman. This circumstance was different from the novel’s protagonist. In particular, Kelvin proved to act irresponsive, cold and controlling when he wanted, while George Clooney’s character seemed to be ready to jeopardize everything for his relationship. The central idea of the film by Soderbergh was to show the deeper feeling that Kris could experience and to prove that the character is not only a “pure scientific soul “. George Clooney played his role extremely professionally and he managed to convey to the viewer the aforementioned message imposed by Soderbergh. For instance, when Kelvin met his guests, he continued the conversation about Rheya and did not want to believe that she was dead in reality (Soderbergh, 2003).
In conclusion, it is important to mention that both the movie and the novel are worth reading and watching. They help the observer to experience different sides of Kris Kelvin’s personality that is romantic, mystical, and full of philosophical thoughts.
Lem, S. (1961). Solaris. (S. Cox & J. Kilmartin, Trans.). New York, NY: Harcourt Brace, and Co.
Soderbergh, S. (Director). (2003). Solaris [Motion picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox.