Stanislaw Lem is one of those science fiction icons that I’ve never really gotten into, in spite of reading the genre pretty much from the moment I could read at all. The Polish writer is also a talent who hasn’t been explored much in the world of film. The two movies based on Lem’s work that you’ve probably heard of are the two adaptations of his 1961 novel Solaris, which was first made into a film by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972, and then by Steven Soderbergh in 2002. Now another of his works is coming to the big screen: The Congress, starring Robin Wright and Harvey Keitel, based on Lem’s The Futurological Congress. You can watch the trailer above, which introduces the basic concept and then drops a whole lot of LSD about halfway through.
Wright plays an actress — one named Robin Wright — who accepts an offer to sell, well, herself. Not in the prostitution way, but rather her entire self: her image, her personality, all the little things that make her “her,” to a Hollywood studio. It’d be like if Brad Pitt sold all his “Brad Pitt-ness,” and he could no longer earn any money from being Brad Pitt. It’s a trippy concept that evokes movies like The Truman Show and S1m0ne, and a concept that isn’t that far fetched. We’ve already seen some controversial commercials where dead celebrities are resurrected via digital wizardry and then used to shill for modern products. This doesn’t sound that far fetched at all.
As for the sudden right turn into animated insanity, I’ve got no clue what that’s all about. I’m guessing maybe the guy cutting the trailer had some sort of psychotic break in the midst of editing. Either way, I’m hoping for a guest appearance by Roger Rabbit.
The Congress just premiered at Cannes, but there’s no word yet when it might make its way Stateside. In the meantime, you could always read the book and try to figure out what the hell’s going on in the trailer…