Marvelous Four: 100 Years of Polish Independence

2018 marks the centenary of the state of Poland regaining its independence. After decades of partitions […] Read more

2018 marks the centenary of the state of Poland regaining its independence. After decades of partitions and serfdom, free Poland was reinstated on the map of the world. Emerging from the historical ordeal, filmmakers who remained unyielding inaugurated The Polish School. Starting with A Generation (1955), the pioneering work from Andrzej Wajda, Poland’s New Wave films stunned the international cinema not just for their historical and political significance, but for their free-spirited visual style and radicalization of the filmic language – strikingly thrived in the European land of liberty.

Roman Polanski (1933-) and the co-screenwriter of his debut feature Knife in the Water (1962), Jerzy Skolimowski (1938-), each in their own way transgressed the traditional methods of narrative building characteristics of their genres. Crafted with mind-blowing symbolism, Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de- sac (1966) break the threshold of psychological thriller and penetrate into the struggle of the human soul, asserting Polanski’s status as a master of world cinema. Whereas Deep End (1970) and The Shout (1978), two of Skolimowski’s finest films made during his exile in England, bespeak his prodigious talents and aesthetic conceptualization – unmatched anywhere else for his intuitive mastery of sound and imagery.

Beginning with experimental animation and transforming into fantasy and eroticism, Walerian Borowczyk’s (1923-2006) ingenuity and artistry is undeniable – comparable to that of Robert Bresson and Luis Buñuel. A surrealist and provocateur, he impressed the world with his cinematic poetry in multifaceted styles, from animated uncanniness in Theatre of Mr. and Mrs. Kabal (1967) to medieval romance in Blanche (1971). Another non-conformist visionary, Andrzej Zuławski’s (1940-2016) approach to storytelling is idiosyncratic and characterized by explosions of violence, sexuality, and despair. Portraying a tragic, shocking and hysterical vision of the world, Possession (1981) and On the Silver Globe (1988) evoke deep thoughts, nerves and senses in every respect that is unparalleled in any cinematic experience.

In an era of value crisis and fading hopes, it’s all the more important to hold on to the enduring creative spirit of these Polish mavericks.


Co-presenter of “Marvelous Four: 100 Years of Polish Independence”

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