The first film for the HUMlab Science Fiction Movie Series 2010*, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972), was successfully screened last night with a surprisingly good turn-out of about 20 people from a range of departments, including Språk, History of Ideas and as far “afield” as Chemistry and Biology. All, of course, very welcome to HUMlab!
The evening started with a warm welcome by the three of us: HUMlab postdoc Lisa Swanstrom first introduced the lab, followed by Scott Stavos, who elaborated on the sci-fi movie series and the weekly sub-themes we hope to pursue in the following screenings. I then talked a little about Tarkovsky, including his background, cinematic philosophy and some ideas pursued by him in Solaris with respect to the science-fiction genre.
At 17:20, we proceeded with the screening. Our goal was to create in the lab a set of screening conditions as unique and suitable as possible to the room: considering how viewing conditions in a cinema, while very good, could be a little cold and impersonal, we placed large beanbags in the front row and a couch in front of the screen (it became “prime property” – a good reason to arrive early so you can “book” it!) for a cosier and more comfortable environment in which people could relax and enjoy the film. Food and drinks, of course, were provided in the way of free soda, popcorn and chips – traditional movie-fare (although for our next screening we just might consider Sony chairman Michael Lynton’s suggestions…). We also managed – no easy task, this – to turn off the lights in HUMlab 2, by dint of Jon Svensson’s sheer efforts in chasing up with not one but two electricians (thanks Jon!), so we got a relatively dark room, which is absolutely crucial for a proper screening, yet still able to have a little ambient light. We also managed to get near-silence once the sliding door between the two lab rooms was shut, despite people working in HUMlab 1, silence being also crucial for a good screening. Finally, the 80″ size screen, needless to say, tops the cake for what we hope was – and think we achieved – a very good viewing experience.
By all accounts, it was an extraordinary film and it was heartening when people came up afterwards telling us how much they had enjoyed it. In its oppositional themes of nature and technology, reality and dreams, the earthly and the cosmic, it was an apposite film through which to contemplate technology in a room so geared – if ironically – towards it.
With that said, we are now looking very much forward to the next screening of the HUMlab Science Fiction Movie Series in two weeks’ time! Here’s the sneak announcement (still subject to scheduling confirmation):
Date: 1 April 2010 (Thursday) 31 March 2010 (Wednesday)
Time: 17:15 (Introduction); 17:30 (Screening)
Peter Travers, film critic of the Rolling Stone writes: “[Peter] Jackson [producer of the film; also he who made Lord of the Rings] and South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp have made District 9 a thriller-diller that trades in ideas without forgetting to go whup-ass on your nervous system. … District 9, with a chump-change budget of $30 million, soars on the imagination of its creator.”
See you there!
2010 HUMlab SF Movie Series team
* With many thanks to Per and Emma E for help and valuable advice, and to Jim and Calle for support and helping us carry the furniture! We are also grateful to MediaCenter Vasterbotten for providing the films.