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The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973)
"Sanatorium pod klepsydra" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,222 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 21 critic

Set in pre- World War II era. A young man is on a strange train to see his dying father in a sanatorium. But the place is going to ruin and recalls a lot of memories from the past. He is ... See full summary »


(as Wojciech J. Has)


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Title: The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973)

The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973) on IMDb 7.8/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jan Nowicki ...
Tadeusz Kondrat ...
Jakub - Józef's father
Irena Orska ...
Józef's mother
Halina Kowalska ...
Gustaw Holoubek ...
Dr. Gotard
Mieczyslaw Voit ...
Blind Conductor
Bozena Adamek ...
Ludwik Benoit ...
Henryk Boukolowski ...
Seweryn Dalecki ...
Julian Jabczynski ...
Jerzy Przybylski ...
Mr. de Voss
Wiktor Sadecki ...
Janina Sokolowska ...
Wojciech Standello ...
Jew Interlocutor in Restaurant


Set in pre- World War II era. A young man is on a strange train to see his dying father in a sanatorium. But the place is going to ruin and recalls a lot of memories from the past. He is beset by soldiers from the past, colonial black mercenaries, girls from his early life, and his parents. It is an interior adventure, with unusual atmospheric flair and extraordinary sets. Written by Polish Cinema Database <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy


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Release Date:

12 December 1973 (Poland)  »

Also Known As:

The Hourglass Sanatorium  »

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Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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Did You Know?


Wojciech Has worked on this project for five years. See more »

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User Reviews

22 August 2000 | by See all my reviews

This is a film that will either absorb or exasperate, depending on one's temper. It mostly exasperated me, but many of its images have stayed with me, and I think viewers who have the patience for, say, Strindberg's "Dream Play" will enjoy its corkscrew narrative. Many may be amused, as I was, by the highly shadowed, highly colored Gothic decor but may have difficulty, as I did, staying the course. The synopsis above is slightly misleading on one count: The old man in the sanatorium is or would be dead in the real world, but his death would be financially inconvenient to the family and so his son is paying to have him kept in the enclosed world of the sanatorium, where time moves more slowly and he can stay alive indefinitely. The film begins like a horror movie, with the protagonist taking an eerily populated train to the ruined sanatorium. But once he's taken care of his business there both he and the story wander into a series of absurdist-picaresque adventures, set in scenes from his memory and imagination (apparently: some are quasi-historical, and his father appears in one of them as a young man). They grow and flower and intertwine with one another as they would in a dream or a reverie, until at last the protagonist arrives back where he started and finds out his fate after all. That seemed arbitrary to me; and why the place should have led him where it did, literally or symbolically, I don't really know; and to my taste the film is so boldly stated as to be a little cheap. But it still has a way of floating around inside the head for a long time after. And if enough people were interested enough by it, the process of identifying and interpreting its cornucopia of allusions and symbols could fuel a semester's worth of late-night discussions.

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