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The Saragossa Manuscript (1965)

Rekopis znaleziony w Saragossie (original title)
Upon finding a book that relates his grandfather's story, an officer ventures through Spain meeting a wide array of characters, most of whom have a story of their own to tell.

Director:

Wojciech Has (as Wojciech J. Has)

Writers:

Tadeusz Kwiatkowski, Jan Potocki (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Zbigniew Cybulski ... Alfonse Van Worden
Iga Cembrzynska ... Princess Emina
Elzbieta Czyzewska ... Donna Frasquetta Salero
Gustaw Holoubek ... Don Pedro Velasquez
Stanislaw Igar ... Don Gaspar Soarez
Joanna Jedryka ... Zibelda
Janusz Klosinski ... Don Diego Salero
Bogumil Kobiela ... Senor Toledo
Barbara Krafftówna ... Camilla de Tormez
Jadwiga Krawczyk Jadwiga Krawczyk ... Donna Inez Moro
Slawomir Lindner Slawomir Lindner ... Van Worden's father
Krzysztof Litwin ... Don Lopez Soarez
Miroslawa Lombardo Miroslawa Lombardo ... Van Worden's mother
Jan Machulski ... Count Pena Flor
Zdzislaw Maklakiewicz ... Don Roque Busqueros
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Storyline

In the Napoleonic wars, an officer finds an old book that relates his grandfather's story, Alfons van Worden, captain in the Walloon guard. A man of honor and courage, he seeks the shortest route through the Sierra Morena. At an inn, the Venta Quemada, he sups with two Islamic princesses. They call him their cousin and seduce him; he wakes beside corpses under a gallows. He meets a hermit priest and a goatherd; each tells his story; he wakes again by the gallows. He's rescued from the Inquisition, meets a cabalist and hears more stories within stories, usually of love. He returns to Venta Quemada, the women await with astonishing news. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Mr Bongo Films

Country:

Poland

Language:

Polish

Release Date:

9 February 1965 (Poland) See more »

Also Known As:

El manuscrito encontrado en Zaragoza See more »

Filming Locations:

Olsztyn, Slaskie, Poland See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,456, 23 May 1999

Gross USA:

$118,971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Kamera Film Unit See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of very few films in which Zbigniew Cybulski plays without his dark glasses. See more »

Quotes

Alfonse Van Worden: I must have been put to sleep with a potion and taken to the gallows.
Donna Rebecca Uzeda: Then you got under the Zota brothers' gallows?
[he nods]
Donna Rebecca Uzeda: And found them both hanged?
Alfonse Van Worden: Do they, by chance, have the habit of coming down?
Donna Rebecca Uzeda: Very often, usually at night.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Originally released in a cut version in the US, the film was restored to it's original 182-minutes running time and premiered at the New York Film Festival in September 1997. The restoration project, supervised by Edith Kramer, was initially sponsored by Grateful Dead's leader Jerry Garcia and later completed by Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. The restored version includes a dedication to Jerry Garcia. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Chuck: Chuck Versus Bo (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Ode to Joy
Taken from "Symphony No. 9 IV movement ('Finale')"
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Complex and dazzling
4 February 1999 | by LevanaSee all my reviews

"The Saragossa Manuscript" is a brilliant work, by turns (or simultaneously) mysteriously spooky and wildly funny. Its unusually long running time does not get tiring because it is so full of variety and unfailing inventiveness. The stories of a crowd of distinctive characters intermesh into a unity that is not obvious at first, but slowly grows clearer -- one of the ideas that can be gathered from the movie is precisely that of the interdependence of people who would seem to have little in common, whether Christian, Jew or Moslem. It's a profoundly humanistic idea.

This theme is the contribution of the novelist Jan Potocki, a Pole living in France when he wrote "The Manuscript Found in Saragossa" at the beginning of the 19th century. One of the main strengths of the movie is also mainly Potocki's, the creation of a Spain of dreams, full of romance, mystery, lively humor, and eroticism (the novel found difficulty in being published originally, and the author was criticised for his libertinism). As vividly brought to the screen by Wojcech Has, this Spain is a place that a viewer will want to return to repeatedly.

Has, however, strongly emphasized the phantasmagorical elements in the novel. The atmosphere that he creates, and the visual style that supports it, are another major asset of the movie. The images of the haunted Sierra Morena are consistently touched with strangeness but not overburdened. I think especially of one shot where the tumbled white rocks look just like bleached bones -- an effect that wouldn't have worked so well if the movie had been in color. In keeping with this shift of emphasis, the adaptation contributes a new ending to the story, which is entirely appropriate; it comes from a distinctly twentieth-century sensibility.

Add to this a uniformly skillful cast (special recognition goes to Slawomir Lindner as the elder Van Worden) and you have a movie that I can't recommend strongly enough.


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