March 26, 2018No Comments

Life as a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease – Krzysztof Zanussi – 2000

I will remember that the main actor of this picture is named Zbigniew Zapasiewicz. I saw him some twenty years younger in Camouflage and loved his cunning ability to project different personas. Here, in the bombastically titled  Life As a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease, he plays a dying doctor’s last months. Given that this is Poland, death is intertwined with questions regarding God. Direct and therefore less subtle, the film looks from the point of view of a character who went through three historic life changes, the war, the totalitarian communist regime and the post ‘89 period. I overheard Radu Muntean saying once that directors are either consumed by their subject or, if they can rise above it, manage to consume the subject themselves. In this case it feels as if Zanussi was in the first category. 

As a sidenote, a quote from Murakami - 1Q84, highlighted by 1524 readers on Kindle: “That’s what the world is, after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.

March 10, 2018No Comments

Camouflage – Krzysztof Zanussi – 1977

When assessing what provokes pleasure in my brain when watching a film there’s two ways to go about it. There’s the quantifiable, factual, observable. The form, the style, the colour scheme, the acting, the character design, the subtext. And then there’s the ineffable gut sensation, the twitch, the hunch, the subconscious wave of relentlessness, that connects your mind to watch you see based on its measure of truthfulness. 

It’s the only way to deeply relate to a Polish character study drama, from 1977, called Camouflage. It tells the story of a group of students out on a retreat, led by an older cynical teacher and a younger idealistic one. The film then follows the clash of their world-views, with one cunningly navigating the authoritarian system, bending and surviving, while the other coming in direct conflict, speaking out and suffering. A parable is a truth carrying machine.

Krzysztof Zanussi. Never heard of him, will follow. 

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