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The Lamp (1959)
"Lampa" (original title)

 |  Short  |  November 1988 (Italy)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 883 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 3 critic

In waning winter light, a doll maker works in his shop, a kerosene lamp beside him, a jumble of dolls and doll parts, whole and broken, surrounding him. There are noises, too: a cuckoo ... See full summary »

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Title: The Lamp (1959)

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In waning winter light, a doll maker works in his shop, a kerosene lamp beside him, a jumble of dolls and doll parts, whole and broken, surrounding him. There are noises, too: a cuckoo clock chirps the workday's end. The artisan completes a repair and leaves, shuttering the shop from outside. Back inside, whispering begins. What else is in store for the shop's seemingly lifeless denizens? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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November 1988 (Italy)  »

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The Lamp  »

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Made in Polanski's final year at the State Film School in Lodz. See more »

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Referenced in L'armadio (2002) See more »

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The Lamp
7 October 2007 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

Polanski has pretty much disowned this short, which is strange as it's not at all bad, although perhaps this was one of his Lodz works which was most heavily prescribed and censored by the film school. It is certainly one of the only Polish pictures of his that does not appear to covertly criticise the regime.

Polanski's cinematic technique was really coming along here. This is one of the most claustrophobic and haunting of his early works. His camera prowls around the set in the same way it would years later to great effect in The Tenant. He also creates a wonderful sound collage out of the opening music and the noise of the doll maker working.

This is a typical student piece, with a single, memorable idea that can fill a short but wouldn't work in a full-length film. It's also arguably the most like his later work of all his shorts. In particular, it reminds me of Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant in that there is a kind of ambiguity as to whether we are really witnessing supernatural events, or if this is just something explainable that appears sinister.

Lampa is a nice little short, and one many young directors would be proud of. It's perhaps not very subtle, or maybe the subject matter could be considered silly, but it seems strange to me that Polanski would write this one off altogether.


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