Shortly after World War II an American soldier (Norman) and a Polish refugee (Emilia) fall in deep love. Eventually he will return to the U.S. and both expect that she will soon follow him....
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Shortly after World War II an American soldier (Norman) and a Polish refugee (Emilia) fall in deep love. Eventually he will return to the U.S. and both expect that she will soon follow him. Emilia's mother is sick, but would recover by available medicine. Somehow the mother, but not Emilia, knows that there will only be one ticket. Realizing that Emilia would never abandon her, the mother secretly throws away the daily doses given her by Emilia, and dies. Somehow Emilia discovers her mother's sacrifice and refuses to benefit from it. She gives the ticket to a female friend and retreats to a cloister, living like the nuns except not wearing their dress and not having given a promise to stay forever. For decades she will apparently live in peace. Then a nun tells her that Norman has died and has bequeathed his fortune to Emilia. The nun suggests that Emilia gives the money to the cloister. But from that moment Emilia's religious devotion flies away. She only thinks of going as speedily ...Written by
Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden
Hope and Love During The Times of Misery and Despair
Krzysztof Zanussi's "A Year of the Quiet Sun" (1984) is a wonderful and unforgettable film. Zanussi's name does not come up often on these boards but he is one of the finest Polish and European directors who inspired the whole new generation of Polish filmmakers, including Krzysztof Kieslowski and Agnieszka Holland. This film is a lost treasure - I never heard of it; there is only one user's comment about it on IMDb. I saw couple of earlier Zanussi's films (The Structure of Crystal and The Constant Factor) but they could not prepare me for this one, another Landscape After Battle, the simple and quiet story of love during the time of suffering. The year is 1946, the place - a small war- ravaged town that used to be a part of Germany but now is a part of Poland. The Polish widow, Emilia (Maya Komarowskaya in a performance so powerful, intense, subtle, and shining - she reminds me of Liv Ullmann in her best roles) meets an American soldier, Norman (Scott Wilson of "In Cold Blood") who involved in war-crimes investigation. Both their lives have been cruelly disrupted by the worst War of the 20th Century. Norman has seen so much suffering and death (he was a prisoner of war) - it is not easy for him to return home but he feels that the woman he met by chance and with whom he has no common language and can only communicate by gestures or rely on interpreters, could be his partner and friend for life. Emilia, who has lost her husband after only a few months of marriage and struggles to survive while taking care of her ailing mother, questions herself if it is even "right" for a human being to look for love and happiness. Slowly, these two begin to realize that no matter what you lived and you've been through, no matter how unbearable the past was and how uncertain the present is, love is possible.
I found myself so involved in the story that Zanussi and his actors told; I wished so much for the characters to find peace and happiness together but I knew that it was not an optimistic Hollywood romance I was watching. I knew that it was one of the best romance films I was watching. The camera work by Slawomir Idziak (Black Hawk Down (2001), Trois couleurs: Bleu (1993),La Double vie de Véronique(1991), and The Decalogue (1989) is above any praise as well as the original music by Wojciech Kilar (The Pianist (2002), Dracula (1992)).
The film ends with a fantasy scene that takes place in Monument Valley, where John Ford shot his "Stagecoach", the only American film that Emilia and her mother saw and they mentioned it to Norman. Scott Wilson remembers that Zanussi and the Andrei Tarkovsky visited Monument Valley on their way to the Telluride Film Festival in 1983.
From Roger Ebert's review: "Both directors vowed to film there someday. Tarkovsky died before he could. Zanussi traveled to the valley with only his cameraman, his two stars, and Wilson's wife Heavenly as crew, and they filmed the ending, which is poetic in the way it visualizes the hope of the two lovers while reflecting the poignancy of their fates."
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