The medieval poem, Pearl, and the science fiction drama, Solaris, offer two uniquely similar takes on the dream vision” genre. The narratives are based around the notion of loss and the spiritual and physical affects of that loss on those that mourn it. Solaris, directed by Steven Soderbergh, is arguably the cinematic incarnation of the Pearl poet’s literary poem, albeit with a more existential twist. The film takes the conventions of the dream vision employed by the Pearl poet, and gives them an existential slant by applying the poem’s if clause” and its religious themes to notions of reality, existence, and the consequences that manifest themselves as alternatives to both. Comparing the two works not only enhances our appreciation for them, but it also allows us to form new and significant interpretations about the notions of divinity and mortality. .
Despite Solaris” sci-fi extensions and applications, and its distinct cultural differences when compared to those of Pearl’s, we cannot ignore the parallels between both works simply because the poem’s dream vision revolves around the speaker’s daughter and the film’s centers on the main character’s wife. Instead, we must embrace the different, yet similar, portrayals of mortality and the prospect of divinity that are at the heart of both a fourteenth century alliterative poem and a 2002 science fiction film. These parallel frameworks, in respect to the conventions of the dream vision, are similar yet different, due to the changes in cultural perspectives and theory that a gap of six centuries will have on any work. And even though their world views of this life and the next are different, their respective depictions of those views are essential to the analysis nonetheless.
Pearl, like Solaris, is often debated as being a consolation,” a primarily didactic” work within the dream vision genre that adapts certain narrative conventions of that genre to make the work function as an allegory (Prior 21).