During the Prussian army's invasion to Poland in 1793, a young Polish nobleman, Jakub is saved from the imprisonment by a stranger who wants in return to obtain a list of his fellow conspira... Read allDuring the Prussian army's invasion to Poland in 1793, a young Polish nobleman, Jakub is saved from the imprisonment by a stranger who wants in return to obtain a list of his fellow conspirators. Following his mysterious savior across the country, Jakub sees the overall chaos and... Read allDuring the Prussian army's invasion to Poland in 1793, a young Polish nobleman, Jakub is saved from the imprisonment by a stranger who wants in return to obtain a list of his fellow conspirators. Following his mysterious savior across the country, Jakub sees the overall chaos and moral corruption including his father's death and the betrayal of his friend who stole hi... Read all
Andrzej Zulawski's DIABEL -I-
Along with "The Silver Globe", this is my favorite Zulawski film. Why? Well, maybe because both of them are so utterly insane. Zulawski is hardly known here in the states, and the only film of his that is available domestically (thanks to Anchor Bay) is "Possession". Sad really but that's life. As the saying goes, the depth of an idea is inversely proportional to the mass perception. It isn't the case for many famous artists of course, but for Zulawski it rings true. I haven't seen any of the stuff he made while living in France (I understand that many of them are on the more erotic side of things) with the exception of the above-mentioned "Possession" and "The Importance of Love" (with Romy Schneider and Fabio Testi), which was definitely *something". I also watched Zulwaski's later effort "Szamanka" which I have no comment on because I viewed a bootleg copy in Polish with French subtitles, and I speak neither of the languages. The same basically goes for "The Silver Globe" actually, which, as far as I know, can only be seen in Polish with German subtitles. But damn it, this film (which was never even finished) was nuts with or without English subtitles. And so is "Diabel". which I was lucky enough to find WITH the English subs! Hooray!!! Why this movie scared both the erstwhile Polish communist authorities, who were highly confused by it and suspected that it carried hidden anti-government messages, and the Catholic Church, which was completely outraged for reasons quite obvious if you've seen the film, much more so than the secular authorities, is clear even thirty something years (made around 1972 and then shelved by the censors until the late 80's) after it was made. Human insanity, cruelty and depravity are all here on display, wrapped in a guise of a historical epic and punctuated by Zulawski's trademark chaotic camera work and overall delivery. Is the film excessive and gratuitously shocking? Yes! But why shouldn't it be? Zulawski was young (and surely angry) back then, and the things he was going up against were, still are, and have always been a thousand times more excessive. If you can't take it - oh well. Maybe you should pull the wool off your eyes and look around. Another reason why I chose "Diabel" and "The Silver Globe" as favs is because of the time and place. They were made in the then Eastern Block during the Cold War and on the director's native soil, which must count for something, right? - all of which might have(or not) added more poignancy to the films (don't tell that to Roman Polanski though).After you move to France, the Artist's paradise that it is, it becomes safe for you to do what you do. The chance to suffer for your art diminishes significantly. Although, of course, you could suffer financially instead, which is something many Eastern European film makers discovered after the ascent of the market economy. Then again, in the new world disorder things change rather quickly. The recent slaying of a Dutch film director (Theo van Gogh was his name, I believe) by Muslim extremists shows that an artist in need can still fully suffer if he wants to. Anyway, back to "Diabel" - I love it. It's not something to be taken lightly of course. As a friend of mine wistfully observed: "the scene where a guy gets shot in the face is one of the most memorable I've seen in any film. So jarringly sudden, I was literally shocked - I don't know why it affected my like that." And I suppose I'll just leave it at that. I mean, how often does that happen in this day and age? Blessed be the sick! Amen.
- Nov 18, 2004
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