With an introduction and readings from Nelli Fomina: Costumes for the Films of Andrei Tarkovsky (2015) by Anastasija Nikitina.
In contrast to the technotopian sci-fi productions of the 1950s and 60s, Tarkovsky’s Solaris offered to early-1970s audiences a completely fresh take on a future world of inter-stellar travel. Within the genre, the film is uncharacteristically sombre and understated in its preference for familiar, ‘human’ imagery of nature and 16th century Flemish painting over the exotically new. Tarkovsky’s lack of reverence for technological marvels, special effects or any kind of futuristic aesthetic allows space for an extremely nuanced psychological portrayal of people affected by enigmatic, haunting phenomena that unravel on the distant planet Solaris. This is only underlined by the no-nonsense, lived-in clothes in an earthy colour palette, in which costume designer Nelli Fomina dressed the characters.
Originally Tarkovsky had wanted ‘space-age’ costumes to be used for Solaris, since the film takes place in the future. Andrei, however, was not satisfied with the plans the first costume designer had come up with: she had used ‘futuristic designs’ from the House of Models, which designers saw as pointers to fashions of the future. In Mosfilm’s footwear workshop square-toed shoes with incredibly high platform soles had been made for the film’s main character, Kris Kelvin. They horrified Andrei.
Soviet Union 1972. Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky. With Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Jüri Järvet. Costumes Nelli Fomina.
Anastasija Nikitina is a publisher at Cygnnet where she has published and compiled books about Russian cinema, including Andrei Tarkovsky: A Photographic Chronicle of the Making of The Sacrifice (2011), as well as Nelli Fomina’s memoir, copies of which will be available to buy at the screening.