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The last film of Andrzej Munk, who died in a crash during the filming. A German woman on a ship coming back to Europe notices a face of another woman which brings recollections from the past. She tells her husband that she has been an overseer in Auschwitz during the war, but she has actually saved a woman's life. Her vision is shown and then the actual events. Written by
Polish Cinema Database <http://info.fuw.edu.pl/Filmy/>
It's difficult to make an accurate assessment of this film because it's incomplete. In fact, it's far from complete. Still, from the pieces of what is left we can see that "Passenger" may well have turned out to be a masterpiece. Like Jean Vigo, Andrzej Munk was considered a cinematic genius who died too soon (in a car crash in 1960). Munk is less well known than Vigo but he is still important, especially in the development of Polish film. "Passenger" is the story of a German woman on a cruise-liner who catches a glimpse of who she believes to be a Jewish girl she was in charge of at a concentration camp during the war. She recounts to her husband in flashback the story of how she tried to protect the girl from her vicious captors. Later on though, in another flashback, we see what really happened: the woman was not the girl's protector, but a sadist who relished her position of authority and her control over the lives of the prisoners she guarded. The cruise-liner scenes are all done using still shots with a narrator (or, the "restorer" of the film) trying to decipher how exactly Munk intended to piece the film together, while the flashback scenes are actual moving images, shot in fine black and white widescreen compositions. As the "narrator" tries to understand the film, what it would have become, so do we as viewers. In this way the film itself becomes perhaps even more labyrinthine than it would have been had Munk completed it, and we have an added level of mystery that is as frustrating as it is exciting. The incomplete film entices us to guess how it would have turned out, and while its certainly not a substitute for the completed film, this fragmented "Passenger" is brilliant and tantalizing nonetheless.
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