The movie begins with a short lecture by Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz (1886 - 1980), a Polish philosopher and ethicist, where illumination is described as a mystical experience, a revelation of truth beyond the senses, the definition attributed to St. Augustine. The explanation is refreshing since many journalists and hack writers today believe that mysticism is "seeing things that are not there" and bears no relation to truth.
Franciszek, the protagonist, is engaged in an unending quest for illumination, although not entirely in Tatarkiewicz's sense. The first stage is his study of physics, where he believes he will "learn things which can be known unequivocally" (this was before string theory, 10-dimensional space and multiverses). However, he feels he is learning the physics of the past; the labs where he works seem to confirm this. Other stages of his quest follow. Some involve science and/or religion and are sought by Franciszek, others are forced upon him by real life. In the end, a sort of illumination is reached, although it bears little relation to the object of Franciszek's quest.
This movie was made in 1973 when Jean-Luc Godard cast a long shadow on world cinema. His influence is felt (fast cutting, sometimes almost subliminal; photographs, titles, diagrams, apparently unscripted conversations) although it is filtered through the world view of the director. The result, as in the best Godard's movies, is a sort of alienation effect that suits the tale.
Stanislaw Latallo plays Franciszek's to perfection, his physique matching exactly the character. The rest of the cast is also excellent
Film Studio Tor is a film production company established in 1967 in Warsaw, since 1980 under the direction of Zanussi. The studio has posted some of its productions (like this movie) on You Tube.
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