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Andrzej Zulawski

Diabel * Andrzej Zulawski (1972)

It seems that I had a bit too high hopes for Zulawski’s early work. “On The Silver Globe” was alright in some senses, but a bit dated, especially in the way of acting. The same goes for “The Devil”. In the late 18th century Poland-in-war, a young man is liberated from captivity and travels cross-country to the city where he was born. Obviously from a theatre background, the again very over-acting players tell a story that is hard to follow and is again probably pretty violent and contains a lot of nudity for the time of release. The atmosphere and the camera work are again nice, but overall the film is not too interesting.

Na Srebrnym Globie * Andrzej Zulawski (1988)

“On The Silver Globe” is Zulawski’s “best known but least seen film” according to the box and I understand why. It proved hard to see! I heard about a Zulawski box with this one, “The Devil” and another film in it. I thought I ordered that box, but got another one with three French films, one of Zulawski. The Polish box that I did want to get turned out to be very expensive, but “On The Silver Globe” and “The Devil” fortunately have been released on DVD separately too. Also quite expensive though. Then there is the story of the film itself. Zulawski started filming in the 1980’ies, but the Polish government forbid the continuation of the project and to destroy all material. Zulawski fled to France and was 10 years later allowed to return and finish his project. He chose to complete what was left of the originel tapes and what we see are the parts that are left, the holes are filled with the read out texts of Jerzy Zulawski’s (Andrzej great-grandfather by the way) novel that this film is based on with random images on the background. The film is obviously based on a book. The dialogues (also mostly overdubbed because of the destruction) are mostly long and philosophical monologues which give the impression that you are watching an ancient play of, say, Shakespeare rather than a film. The gigantic ‘overacting’ adds greatly to this. The long monologues in Polish also make that I constantly had to try to keep up with the subtitles leaving but little time to watch the visuals. All this resulted in the fact that I do not really have a good idea of what it is all about. A group of spacetravellers (called “astronauts” while I would have expected “kosmonauts” by the way) land on the moon that looks a lot like earth. The astronauts that survive settle and then at high speed a new population grows who on their turn run into the original population of the silver globe. The new population creates its own worldview with the original astronauts as gods.
“On the silver globe” is a weird film that I will probably have to watch a few times again before things really start to make sense.

Possession * Andrzej Zulawski (1981)

PossessionA friend got me four classics, this is number two. I do not believe I ever saw this film, but horror has never been my genre, so I suppose I just never intended to watch it. In 1981 a pretty weird film was created, earlier than David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome” (1981), but the film more reminds of “Naked Lunch” (1991) (but it is not that bizarre). When it was done, I had completely lost track of the story, but it is not that difficult in reality. A man (Sam Neill) comes back after having been away for a long time. His wife (the beautifull Isabelle Adjani who also plays La Reine Margot) is not so sure if she wants to continue life the same way as before Mark left, so the good man becomes rather psychotic. The wife tops this by far and as the film continues it is suggested how that can be. The film is quite bizar with scenes in which Mark tries to see if the electric knife could cut his arm to Anna having some kind of seizure in a subway station. This get weirder and weirder and more and more bloody, especially when the viewer comes to the source of things, a fact so incredible that you might come up with all kinds of explantions to the hows and whys. This is actually very well done. I have seen my share of odd films, but Zulawski managed to make the psychotic couple just credible enough to make ‘that other thing’ almost unbelievable. Of course “Possession” is an old film, which shows, but it has a very good atmosphere and a very good story that is easy to give in one line, but hard to tell in detail.