A young man is facing death of his mother. A petty corruption at his job leads to him being framed and robbed of his only desire to climb mountains in Himalayas, as his father did and where... See full summary »
During the German occupation noble, bourgeois and worker's partisan groups lived in peace with another. On the first day of freedom they start to fight each other. In these fights is weaved a most tender love story.
A young engineer is called back home, which he had left years before. The house is a crumbling, old mansion in which his father still works, illegally distilling vodka, much of which he ... See full summary »
What happens to film characters after the film is made, has had its run in the theaters and been filed away in our memories? To find the answer, Zanussi takes the young star of his last ... See full summary »
The film is set in a small town near Warsaw, to which a young and coming director comes to produce a classic play (Wyspianski "Wyzwolenie") with a modern vein. Everyone in the production ... See full summary »
Difficulty of human relations in a 3-cornered tale: a neurotic woman, idealistic young man and his mother. Tomek is a clean-cut, high-minded geography student. He lives with his mother ... See full summary »
In Chen Kaige's great movie Yellow Earth / Huang tu di (1985), a Chinese soldier reaches a remote valley in search of folk songs to record for the edification of the Red Army. At a wedding feast he discusses with his host the spectacle of a poor minstrel singing for tips. The minstrel is lonely and past finding a wife. In the culture he lives in, if you are single after 30, you remain so. So he sings a bitter song, and because of this he earns no money, despite his manifest talent, because the people want to hear happy songs.
So Krzysztof Zanussi's movie Constans, whilst excellent, probably comes off as a bitter song, one which film fans have therefore been chary of. It's the story of a young man, Witold, blessed with good looks, intelligence, a moral character, and a sense of wonder and enthusiasm, who is born into a living space, a zeitgeist, and a power structure, which degrades and humiliates him. One might say with some justification that the Second World War ended for Poland only in 1990, with the triumph of Solidarity and consequently the waning of Soviet influence. In 1980, Zanussi let loose this wail; by the following year Solidarity had formed. The Poles had had enough.
It has always mattered the most to me if a film has a ring of truth to it, and so this one does. I was brought up by people espousing a moral system that receives broad lip service, but in practical terms is almost an irrelevance, with people acting only with enlightened self-interest. I suppose with a Catholic country under a communist regime you might get similarly schizophrenia-inducing conditions for people who pay heed to principle.
As with Kieslowski, Zanussi was fascinated by fate and that comes through very clearly here. Kieslowski's movie of the following year, Blind Chance (1981) being equally as despondent. In the depths of the pessimism of Constans I was reminded of the Socratic concept of divine fatalism, the idea that good character is a divine boon and that we are the playthings of the gods. Witold's planned ascent of Himalayan peaks, is allegorical and for me harks back to the myth of Bellerophon, and his fate. Similarly none of the characters appear capable of persuasion or personality change.
7 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?