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Brilliant doc on mid-century Polish film music and jazz genius

Author: alexdeleonfilm from United States
19 September 2016

Among many excellent films at the 11th Polish Film Festival of Los Angeles in 2010 was a standout (and long overdue!) 52 minute documentary on the brilliant career of Krzystof Komeda, a truly legendary figure in the annals of mid-century Polish film and jazz. Komeda was a highly regarded jazz musician, pianist, and the composer of some 65 film soundtracks, working with all the best young directors of the time, Polanski, Skolimowski, and Wajda among others The title of the film is "Komeda -A Soundtrack For a Life". In Poland under communism, especially in the Stalinist years, American style jazz was not only a form of social protest but literally a crime, and Komeda with an immense musical talent was one of the leading musical criminals. He was a contemporary and close friend of Roman Polanski and did the music for all of Polanski's Polish films, shorts as well as the renowned first feature "Knife in the Water", which became Polanski's ticket to the West. When Polanski was beginning to make it in Hollywood he invited Komeda to do the music for "Rosemary's Baby", one of the big hits of the year 1968. At this point Komeda was on the verge of carving out his own Hollywood career but, during a drinking bout with dissident Polish writer Marek Hlasko he fell down and sustained a serious blow to the head. He immediately returned to Poland for treatment but died of a brain hemorrhage three days later at the age of 37. A terrible loss for Poland and the music world in general. In the film many colleagues such as Polanski and director Jerzy Skolimowski comment at length on their work and friendship with the genial young musician. Very well made but a doc that makes you sad to see such a talent cut off too early on the verge of international fame. Director, Claudia Buthenhoff-Duffy of Germany, produced by Wojciech Szczudlo of Warsaw. An important contribution to Poish and world film music history.

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