In 1950, at night, a passenger train kills a man on the tracks. He is Orzechowski, an engineer since 1914. An inquiry immediately follows. Testimony takes the form of flashbacks. Tuszka, ... See full summary »
In the 15th century the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is facing a hard struggle against the neighboring Teutonic Order.Frequent clashes between the two powers finally culminate in 1410 with the Battle of Grunwald.
In 1950s London racial hostility to Commonweath immigrants is openly paraded. A pregnant girl, initially assumed to be white, is murdered. As two detectives start to investigate, and ... See full summary »
A young man is facing death of his mother. A petty corruption at his job leads to him being framed and robbed of his only desire to climb mountains in Himalayas, as his father did and where... See full summary »
An actress travels from Warsaw to Paris and during the trip reflects on the last few years of her life. It goes back to the German occupation and her hiding of a fellow actor who has ... See full summary »
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 ... See full summary »
A young woman who has been abused and taken advantage of by all the men in her life, finally finds a man she believes truly loves her, but she snaps when she finds out that he, too, is ... See full summary »
Mario e Franco, due adolescenti, sono legati da grande amicizia anche se appartengono a ceti sociali diversi. Mario ammira Franco perchè, figlio di un diplomatico, ha viaggiato molto e ... See full summary »
Jerzy Kawalerowicz (pronounced 'cavalerovitch', 1922-2007) was one of the most talented Polish film directors. His films are insufficiently known outside of Poland but are slowly being revived, with English or German subtitles, so that this Polish master of cinema technique becomes familiar to wider and newer audiences. I have already pointed out the sheer genius of his film NIGHT TRAIN (aka POCIAG, 1959, see my review), which may be the best 'train film' ever made. In fact, there are hair-raising and wonderful train episodes in this film as well. Kawalerowicaz was obviously a great lover of trains and knew how to get the most out of them cinematically. This film is listed on IMDb by its Polish title CIEN (pronounced 'tsyen', because a 'c' in Polish when on its own is always pronounced as a hard 'ts' sound). That means either THE SHADOW, as the English subtitles put it, or simply SHADOW, as the DVD box says. The reference is to a line spoken by a policeman in the film where he says 'you can always find a man from his shadow'. This is a mystery and suspense film of enormous power and dynamism, due to the cinematic techniques of the director. He specializes in shooting upwards close up to strong, Slavic faces, and his actors, all having lived through the War and Stalinism, did not need acting lessons in how to convey fear and desperate anxiety. Considering how bland, soft and pampered modern Western faces are, these gaunt Polish faces of the 1950s are a true history lesson in themselves. The stories and screenplay are by Aleksander Scibor-Rylski (1928-1983), who later wrote Andrzej Wajda's two famous films MAN OF MARBLE (1977) and MAN OF IRON (1981). CIEN was his very first screenplay, but already it was something of a masterpiece. The story consists of strands of remembered flashbacks from different people threaded together on an investigation of a mysterious death. We see episodes from 1943 when Warsaw was occupied by the Germans, and even more harrowing episodes from 1946 during the struggle for control of freed Poland. These all relate to the events of the mid-1950s when the film begins. Kawalerowicz is especially strong on powerful and dynamic moving shots, shots which are either driving towards something or fleeing away from something, or otherwise following something. This film is far from being static or stagey, it is always on the move. The train episodes in the latter part of the film are simply amazing, and the actors risked their lives by doing all the stunt work themselves. This film is concerned with duplicity, treachery, identity, and has a mood of loss and sombre sadness about it. The various searches for people who can never again be traced reminds one of the many novels of Patrick Modiano, and the same pathos at the irrecoverable past and the hopelessness of ever explaining its lingering mysteries runs through the entire film like a pungent trail of smoke from a fire of sad memories. The atmosphere is so strong, the acting so good, and the direction so inspired, that this film ranks with the best American noir films, alongside its even more dazzling successor three years later, NIGHT TRAIN. If non-Polish people could only pronounce his name, Jerzy Kawalerowicz would probably be really famous round the world by now.
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