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Always a Rebel, Andrzej Munk

An unsung hero of the anti-heroic trend of the Polish school, Andrzej Munk (1920-61) remains one […] Read more

An unsung hero of the anti-heroic trend of the Polish school, Andrzej Munk (1920-61) remains one of the most influential voices in European cinema, despite having just made four feature films in his lifetime. That’s not only because Munk is a brilliant cinematic stylist [see the complex narrative structure of Man on the Tracks (1957) or the jump cuts in Bad Luck (1960) for examples]; it’s also because he was a playful rebel who cleverly used cinema as his tool of dissent and question important issues.

Even before he began his feature film career, Munk made documentaries that went against the mainstream propaganda-esque tone. With fictional narratives, the director continued his subversive streak in even more creative ways.

Going against typical mystery narratives, neo-realistic drama Man on the Tracks sees its investigators spending most of the story exonerating a suspect instead of proving his guilt. With both Eroica (1958) and Bad Luck, Munk boldly questioned the concept of heroism with tragically ironic humor during a time when war heroes are showered with unquestioning praise. Even with his incomplete masterpiece, Passenger (1963), he took the non-traditional route by taking the perspective of the oppressor during the Holocaust.

Perhaps the most telling thing from Munk’s life is that despite his claims of being a leftist, he was kicked out of Stalinist organization Polish United Workers Party for having “right-wing tendency”. Once a rebel, always a rebel.

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