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The film depicts its protagonist, Joseph (Jan Nowicki), traveling through a dream-like world, taking a dilapidated train to visit his dying father in a sanatorium. When he arrives at the hospital, he finds the entire facility is going to ruin and no one seems to be in charge, or even caring for the patients. Time appears to behave in unpredictable ways, reanimating the past in an elaborate artificial caprice.Written by
Despite the communist authorities' ban on the film, it was in secret sent to Cannes in film cans with false inscriptions on them. Because of this incident, Has couldn't make any movie for the next 8 years. See more »
The late Polish director Wojceich Has is better known for his amazing "The Saragosa Manuscript" which has a Chinese box structure of nested stories. However, this film (known to english audiences as "The Sandglass"), tops its predecessor in fantastic imagery. Based on several stories of Bruno Schultz, this film might be the most successful recreation of the inner psyche ever commited to celluloid.
A man journeys by dilapidated train (where most of the passengers look like corpses) to visit his ailing father who is kept in a crumbling ornate sanatorium. He is told by a doctor that time exists differently there and his dying father may recover. The man experiences a flood of dreamlike visions of his past and the small Jewish town he was raised in. The father is seen both ill and as a giddy philosopher in an attic full of birds. At some point we get the creeping sensation that it is the man himself who is dying, not the father as a blind train conductor reappears like a death figure. The increasingly baroque episodes become the rich compost of a graveyard.
The film can also been seen as a requiem for the Eastern European Jewish culture that was wiped out by WW2. It isn't an accident that the protagonist is named Joseph and his father Jacob. Many of the films episodes evoke Jewish symbolism.
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