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When Angels Fall (1959)
"Gdy spadaja anioly" (original title)

 -  Short | Drama  -  1959 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 788 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 4 critic

A church bell chimes. An old woman stops to feed pidgins on her way to work in the men's lavatory in the basement of a public building. She sits all day by the lavatory door as little ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Barbara Lass ...
(as Barbara Kwiatkowski)
Old woman
Henryk Kluba
Andrzej Kondratiuk ...
(as Andrzej Kondratiuk)


A church bell chimes. An old woman stops to feed pidgins on her way to work in the men's lavatory in the basement of a public building. She sits all day by the lavatory door as little dramas play out -- of illness, assignation, and routine -- a few tips her only acknowledgment. The sound of footsteps on the floor above her brings a reverie of her youth, when she was a beauty, the day a platoon of soldiers marched into her valley. As the day in the basement proceeds, she completes a set of memories that takes her from passion to maternal love to rejection and tragedy. Could there be more awaiting her on this day of remembering the fruit of her womb? Written by <>

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Short | Drama





Release Date:

1959 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

When Angels Fall  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The idea for Roman Polanski's short movie (his diploma piece from Lodz Szkola Filmowa and his first one in color) was taken from a short story "Klozet Babcia", written by Leszek Szymanski and published weekly "Kierunki" in Warsaw, Poland. See more »

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User Reviews

The Old Lady In The Men's Lavatory
22 June 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I acknowledge the uniqueness of this film, but that doesn't mean I enjoyed it. At least I'm being honest about it. The visuals were the most interesting facet, along with this old lady's face. Wow, what a face: a million wrinkles, most of them with a story. It was interesting that the present day part of this short film was in black-and-white and the flashbacks were in color. You would think the director would do the opposite. However, the director here is not your ordinary filmmaker. He's Roman Polanski, and this is one of his last short films before he began feature-length ones.

I've never heard of a female attendant in a men's lavatory, but that's what we have here. It's a depressing job, one in which one usually sits all day and has hour to contemplate. For this old woman, it was unpleasant memories of the past as each new customer reminds her of something tragic in her past.

The acting in here was poor but I'm sure young Polanski didn't have much of a budget to work with. It wasn't exactly like working with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

Like most of his short films, there is little to no dialog.....but it's really not needed. However, the sudden scene shifts from her apparent memories to scenes which she couldn't have witnessed (i.e. World War I battle scenes) were confusing. Maybe it just didn't get it. However, I appreciated the sentimentality in here, even if I didn't understand some of it.

To those who haven't seen any of Polanski's short films, be warned: this is quite different from films you are used to seeing. They used to have "art houses" where they would show "arty" films like this. I wonder if they are still around?

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