April 16, 2020,

Sci-Fi Movies were once thought to be, well, just science fiction. They won’t come true. They couldn’t.

We hoped.

We hoped wrong.

The recent Coronavirus global pandemic has sent most of the world scurrying inside, just like our ancestors used to do, when mankind mostly lived in caves.

As reported by CNN, “The basics of a “shelter-in-place” order during the coronavirus pandemic are fairly clear: Stay at home. The purpose of such an order is to enforce social distancing, or to keep people away from each other to limit the spread of the virus. There is nothing inherently dangerous about going outside. The danger is in being close to other people who are infected, whether they know it or not.”

Therein is the key to why we must shelter in place.

Some people have the virus and don’t know it.

This may remind us of a great sci-fi movie where the cast and crew literally can’t go anywhere because they are on a space ship traveling through uncharted space.

At least in the Star Trek franchise, the crew could leave the ship. Sometimes at their peril. But at least they could leave.

Sometimes we wondered why anyone would want to leave, especially when you have the Holodeck at your beck and call.

The Holodeck is a fictional device from the television franchise Star Trek.

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It is a stage where participants may engage with different virtual reality environments.

From a storytelling point of view, it permits the introduction of a wide variety of locations and characters, such as events and persons in the Earth‘s past and imaginary places or beings, that would otherwise require complicated set-ups such as time-travel or dream sequences.

Writers often use it as a way to pose philosophical questions.

Crew members can indulge in their deepest romantic fantasies and often do.

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In the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the device is referred to as a holosuite.

The sometimes devious and very clever character Quark maintains several of them in his bar aboard the titular station and rents them out to customers.

Although the Holodeck is supposed to be a safe alternative to reality, many Star Trek shows feature holodeck-gone-bad plots in which real-world dangers become part of what is supposed to be a controlled environment.

We guess there never is such a thing as perfection. Even in outer space.

In other movies however, the crew was stuck.

Sheltered in. Without any other good options.

Let’s not get into the quarantined against attacking zombie movies. Though entertaining, we suspect most of us have had a plate full of virus gone bad news already.

We also could go through a list of horror films where you are sheltered in on a space ship with a number of crew members who are a massive pain in the rear and you hope they get eaten by a large alien, and they often do, but these times can be depressing enough so we thought we’d present another sheltered in space movie that is far more palatable.

Nicely romantic too.

Solaris is a 2002 American science fiction drama film written and directed by Steven Soderbergh, produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau, and starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone.

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It is based on the 1961 science fiction novel of the same name by Polish writer Stanisław Lem.

Reflecting on Andrei Tarkovsky‘s critically acclaimed 1972 film Solaris, which was itself preceded by a 1968 Soviet TV film), Soderbergh promised to be closer in spirit to Lem’s novel. Still, Lem disliked both renderings.

The film is set almost entirely on a space station orbiting the planet Solaris, adding flashbacks to the previous experiences of its main characters on Earth.

Clooney’s character struggles with the questions of Solaris’s motivation, his beliefs and memories, and reconciling what was lost with an opportunity for a second chance.

We all want and need a second chance in life.

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What we loved about the film is that it actually speaks more to that theme than villainous monsters chasing desperate astronauts in circles.

It is softly done, beautifully photographed and the music is quietly hypnotic.

Here is the storyline.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Chris Kelvin is approached by emissaries for DBA, a corporation operating a space station orbiting the planet Solaris, who relay a message sent from his scientist friend Dr. Gibarian.

Mr. Gibarian requests that Kelvin come to the station to help understand an unusual phenomenon but is unwilling to explain more.

DBA is unsure how to proceed, as the mission to study Solaris has been sidetracked and none of the astronauts want to return home. In addition, DBA has lost contact with the security patrol recently dispatched to the station.

Kelvin agrees to a solo mission to Solaris as a last attempt to bring the crew home safely.

Very intriguing.

We weren’t alone in loving this shelter in, gem.

The master movie reviewers at rogerebert.com analyze, “Solaris tells the story of a planet that reads minds, and obliges its visitors by devising and providing people they have lost, and miss. The Catch-22 is that the planet knows no more than its visitors know about these absent people.

At a time when many American movies pump up every fugitive emotion into a clanging assault on the audience, Soderbergh’s “Solaris” is quiet and introspective.”

Well said.

There is a part of us that senses during these sheltering in times that we need to create our own version of the Holodeck at our places of residence. The larger your residence, the more options you have.

Still, no matter the size of your dwelling, you can always create a movie room where you essentially shutter the outside world, out. Dampen the senses.

Black sheets placed over your windows will create the hotel effect where you pull the curtains closed to darken the room so you can get some sleep.

Try that. It will create a nice movie room for you where you close the entry door, on the other side of the door place a black towel at the bottom, about a foot away from the door, so that the light doesn’t get in but fresh air does.

As far as what to watch, especially if you have a loved one, we suggest the sheltered in love story.

It can be very introspective.

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