The Ten Commandments, exact and uncompromising, literally cast in stone, continues to provide a source of moral conflict in contemporary society. In the ten part epic masterpiece, Decalogue, Krzysztof Kieslowski examines the dilemma of fundamental sin in the lives of ordinary Warsaw citizens.
Tag Archives: Poland
Ostatni dzien lata / The Last Day of Summer (1958) Tadeusz Konwicki, Irena Laskowska, Jan Machulski, Drama, Romance
There is something vaguely mythical to the manner in which Konwicki introduces his characters, both to us and to each other, lapped as much by the ethereal eeriness of the score as by the seaside winds that send their hair aflutter. When they tend to speak to each other in whispers, it seems almost out of respect for the otherworldly aura of their locale, as though it is to their eyes as improbably beautiful as Konwicki’s camera renders it to us. They—referred to in the credits only as “He” and “She”, mysterious and mythical in themselves—do not whisper much; there’s a clear silent heritage at work here, conferring meaning to the motion of faces and the movement of the camera along this spectral shore.
Na srebrnym globie / On the Silver Globe (1988) Andrzej Zulawski, Andrzej Seweryn, Jerzy Trela, Grazyna Dylag, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
A small group of cosmic explorers, including a woman, leaves Earth to find freedom and start a new civilization. They do not realize that within themselves they carry the end of their own dream. They eventually die one by one, while their children revert to a primitive native culture, creating new myths and a new god. Some time later, a space bureaucrat, running from a broken heart, arrives and finds the colonizer’s descendants enslaved by bird-monsters called Cherns. Society is divided into numerous classes, and everyone is waiting for the arrival of a messiah. The newcomer is considered a suitable candidate, and for some time he lives as a god. In the end he is crucified by his people.
Austeria / The Inn (1982) Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Franciszek Pieczka, Wojciech Pszoniak, Jan Szurmiej, Drama, War
Austeria takes place during the opening days of World War I, in the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia. Tag (Franciszek Pieczka) is a Jewish innkeeper whose inn (austeria means inn in the local Polish dialect) is located near the border with Russia. War has broken out and local civilians are fleeing the advancing Russian Army, and several groups of refugees have taken shelter in Tag’s inn for the night. A group of Hassidic jews from the neighboring village arrive, followed by an Austrian baroness on and a Hungarian hussar cut off from his unit…
Sanatorium pod klepsydra / The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973) Wojciech Has, Jan Nowicki, Tadeusz Kondrat, Irena Orska, Drama, Fantasy
The film depicts its protagonist, Joseph (Jan Nowicki), traveling through a dream-like world, taking a dilapidated train to visit his dying father in a sanatorium. When he arrives at the hospital, he finds the entire facility is going to ruin and no one seems to be in charge, or even caring for the patients. Time appears to behave in unpredictable ways, reanimating the past in an elaborate artificial caprice.
A man hops off a train by the small town where he claims he was before. His presence allows to bring out the inner feelings and beliefs of the inhabitants. A man who has hidden through all of the war because he looked Jewish, even if he is not, took on a fame of a dead Jewish actor he resembles. The visitor’s wife shows up to claim his and indicate that he is always running off. He escapes in the end for another town.
Ziemia obiecana / The Promised Land (1975) Andrzej Wajda, Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Pszoniak, Andrzej Seweryn, Drama
At the turn of the century, Lodz, Poland was a quick-paced manufacturing center for textiles, replete with cutthroat industrialists and unsafe working conditions. Three young friends, a Pole, a Jew and a German, pool their money together to build a factory. The movie follows their ruthless pursuit of fortune.
Constans / The Constant Factor (1980) Krzysztof Zanussi, Tadeusz Bradecki, Zofia Mrozowska, Malgorzata Zajaczkowska, Drama
Czlowiek z zelaza / Man of Iron (1981) Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Krystyna Janda, Marian Opania, Drama, History
A worker becomes a “man of iron” forged by experience, a son comes to terms with his father, a couple fall in love, a reporter searches for courage, and a nation undergoes historic change. In Warsaw in 1980, the Party sends Winkel, a weak, alcoholic TV hack, to Gdansk to dig up dirt on the shipyard strikers, particularly on Maciek Tomczyk, an articulate worker whose father was killed in the December 1970 protests. Posing as sympathetic, Winkel interviews people who know Tomczyk, including his detained wife, Agnieszka. Their narrations become flashbacks using actual news footage of 1968 and 1970 protests and of the later birth of free unions and Solidarity.
Aktorzy prowincjonalni / Provincial Actors (1979) Agnieszka Holland, Halina Labonarska, Tadeusz Huk, Iwona Biernacka, Comedy, Drama
In reality, the comedy-drama can be read as a commentary on the contemporary Polish scene in politics and society. The story begins as a savvy director arrives in a small town to put on a stage play. His leading man is filled with insecurities and goes beyond the confines of his lead role to expand his part, restore his cut lines, and generally outdo himself while taking on some of everyone else’s job, including the director’s. No one wants to lose him because of his drawing power, and the director is caught in a bind. At the same time, the lead actor’s wife is slowly losing her chances at success, being relegated to a much lesser position in the troupe. This fine comedy won the Fipresci award at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.