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Piotr Dumula's "Lagodna" was adapted from the same source as Bresson's "Une Femme Douce" (1969)- Dostoevsky's 1876 story "A Gentle Spirit" (aka "A Gentle Creature", "A Gentle Spirit"). The film begins with the ticking of a grandfather clock, a woman lying silently in a bed and a man watching her. Dumala animates the story (using heavy plaster plates) with effective use of fades, close-ups, extreme close-ups, and morphing of materials (partway through the film a tablecloth is pulled by the woman; in a fluid movement it has become the bedsheet from the opening scene. At different times the hands of the clock move backwards - once, moving forward the hands morph into the man. The woman screams and her face takes on the likeness of the Munch painting. A buzzing fly landing on the woman's face in the first sequence re-appears on her face toward the end - she makes no response. The man slaps the fly on her face - the room begins to fade leaving the man by himself on a chair. The clock continues to tick as we fade to an empty room . ..
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Lagodna" or "A Gentle Spirit" or "A Gentle Creature" is an 11-minute animated short movie by Polish filmmaker Piotr Dumala and for this one here, he adapted the work by famous writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. The film is from 1985, so had its 30th anniversary last year. I must say I liked the looks of this short film. The animation was nicely done for an 1980s film and the characters as well as all the surroundings looked interesting. But there is one negative deal-breaker here and that is the story. I would not even say it was bad, but I have not read the Dostoevsky work and from Dumala's short film here, it is absolutely not clear what is going on at all. Dumala has a tendency to avoid dialogue in his films in order to make films more appealing to people outside of Poland who don't speak the language. But this is a problem here as dialogue may have helped in understanding the plot. I cannot agree with the awards bodies who liked this movie and give it a thumbs-down. Not recommended, unless you love Dostoevsky.
This story is apparently a retelling of Dostoyevsky--"A Gentle Creature" (or "A Gentle Spirit"). However, it's VERY, VERY hard to gather that this is the case, as the film is very sketchy and so much of the story is NOT apparent in this animated story. Now this does NOT mean the film is bad--it just ISN'T really the full Dostoyevsky story--just some sketchy bits from it. So, while the story is VERY sketchy and confusing, it is worth seeing for Piotr Dumala's very impressive and unusual animation. Instead of a typical cartoon look, he has created what looks like a piece of art--a cross-hatched look that most closely resembles a drypoint print. It's very arresting and you simply see the film for this, not for the story. Worth a look.
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