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The Third Part of the Night (1971)
"Trzecia czesc nocy" (original title)

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Set during the occupation of Poland during World War II. Some German soldiers, slaughter a woman, her son and daughter-in-law. The husband and his father escape by being in the forest. The ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Malgorzata Braunek ...
Marta
Leszek Teleszynski ...
Michal
Jan Nowicki ...
Jan
Jerzy Golinski ...
Michal's father
Anna Milewska ...
Sister Klara
Michal Grudzinski ...
Marian
Marek Walczewski ...
Rozenkranc
Hanna Stankówna
Alicja Jachiewicz ...
The Waitress
Leszek Dlugosz
Halina Czengery ...
Michal's Mother
Janina Ordezanka
Jadwiga Halina Gallowa
Grazyna Barszczewska
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ewa Ciepiela
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Storyline

Set during the occupation of Poland during World War II. Some German soldiers, slaughter a woman, her son and daughter-in-law. The husband and his father escape by being in the forest. The young man decides to join the resistance but at the first meeting Gestapo kills his go-between and chase him. During his escape he gets into an apartment of a pregnant woman and helps her with the childbirth. He works in the typhus center where he is guinea pig for lice after being immunized to make more vaccine. He goes to the hospital to end a misery of a man mistaken by him and tortured where he seems to see his own body and is finally reconciled with himself. Written by Polish Cinema Database <http://info.fuw.edu.pl/Filmy/>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Horror | War

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

4 January 1972 (Poland)  »

Also Known As:

Ein Drittel der Nacht  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Leszek Teleszynski. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Synergia (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Life at the bottom of a chasm
5 July 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Third part of the night is set in Poland during the second world war, which, as you will probably know, was infested by the plague of Nazism, and latterly equipollent Communism. The film starts with a quotation from Revelations Chapter VIII, which delineates the havoc that will be wreaked upon the earth when the Big Guy decides it's time to wrap everything up. There are seven trumpets being blown, the first four we are told about, and they wreak chaotic damage to earth, generally in thirds: a third of the rivers are turned to wormwood, one third of ships destroyed... Anyway the fourth trumpet makes it so that for a third part of the night the moon and stars will not shine, so that's basically what the German occupation of Poland is, the Third Part of the Night.

Most of the film is set in the city of Lwow, which was then part of Poland, but now has been made part of Ukraine and is called Lviv. That was Joe Stalin's doing, part of his Polish Holocaust.

The film starts though in the countryside with a violent act that is a quotation of the violence at the start of Menilmontant if I have seen things correctly. Michal the main character, a ghost-faced unibrowed typhus sufferer loses his family and returns to Lwow, where he attempts to become part of the resistance. It turns out that the resistance centers around a research institute. The folks there exist to feed lice. The way it works is that you put a strap around your bare leg and slot in these matchbox size containers full of lice that feed from your blood through a wire mesh. These lice are used to breed typhus, and the vaccine is then prepared from their guts. One guy gets home from work, strips naked and starts scratching himself and whimpering. Not the most pleasant scene. Involving yourself in this process gave you great papers though, because the Germans took one look at your papers, and were then scared of catching typhus from you and so left you well alone.

After losing his wife, Michal comes across a woman who looks exactly like her (a plot device Zulawski also uses in La Femme Publique). It's not clear why this device is used, but it could be a misogynist motif, ie. he's incapable of seeing the woman for who she is, he may also be having a traumatic hallucination, which would mean that there is a woman but she doesn't look like his wife. This *hallucination* of a movie is mainly anchored around this plot, providing some sort of bearing for the viewer.

You won't see a normal moment in the entire movie, everything is topsy turvy, every scene is either in a shattered building, or of a normal building full of shattered people. It's a nightmarish movie, like a dance of death. Dance is an appropriate word because the film uses hand-held camera a lot (though Zulawski in an interview has stated that the cameraman he found had a very steady hand, and he was obviously proud to find him), and the shot dances around, with some circular shots, zooms you never see coming, really it's very alive.

What really is the Zulawski strength though is directing actors, he managed to coax scenes of incredible intensity out of Malgorzata Braunek (as Michal's wife) and Jerzy Golinski (Michal's father). I've seen almost nothing like it, though another Polish film springs to mind, Jerzy Kawalerowicz's Mother Joan of the Angels. The actors handed themselves over to Zulawski, giving them his complete trust, Braunek in particular in one scene at the institute connected with some deep innermost primal emotions.

The cellar shots at the institute are the bleakest shots you're likely to see in cinema, and remind me only of paintings, and bizarrely of the shots of test chambers in Alien 4.

The only big stumbling block for most people I believe would be the music, which is very out-of-place jazz (three quarters of the way between mellifluence and dissonance), and has taken me a while to get used to.


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