In small-town Poland in the late 1950s, an aging woman married to a workaholic doctor meets a young man who makes her feel young again. Framed around this story, lead actress Krystyna Janda discusses the death of her husband from cancer.
Marta, a European woman semi-happily married to a local physician. She learns that he has contracted lung cancer, but deliberately resists informing her of his dire impending fate -- because she's already emotionally fragile for the death of their young sons during the war. Then, one day, when she is walking with a friend, she catches a glimpse of a handsome, strapping 20-year-old man named Boguslaw and feels instantly drawn to his youth and sexuality. She then beckons him into a mentor-protégé relationship, which inevitably leads to an affair. She expresses her desire to collect rushes for the upcoming Pentecost feast, an event designed to celebrate life, and the passage of spring into summer -- but she doesn't realize that the freshness of life that beckoned her when she first spotted Boguslaw will ultimately be her undoing.Written by
The film is dedicated to the late cinematographer Edward Klosinski, the husband of actress Krystyna Janda and one of Andrzej Wajda's closest collaborators. Klosinski died during filming and his wife decided to include in the movie her personally written monologue on his loss, which actually refers to the very subject of the film as well as the short story it is based on. See more »
Andrzej Wajda's film tells a story of Marta, a middle-aged woman married to a small town doctor. Marta searches for happiness in the arms of a much younger man, Bogus. Their relationship is as innocent and fresh as the smell of the sweet rush that grows in the river where Marta and Bogus swam on their first date. But, just when everything seems to be going well for them, Bogus drowns, entangled in the roots of sweet rush he was trying to pick for Marta.
Wajda's film follows a two-pronged approach. On the one hand we see the actor reconstructing the last months of her husband's life in a simple but extremely touching way and, on the other, we follow the struggles of her fictitious character, who cannot get over the death of the man with whom she was so happy. Both of them have to cope with painful experiences - the actor with the death of her husband, and her character with the additional loss of her two sons who died in the Warsaw Uprising during the Second World War. Thus, the two women, Krystyna and Marta, eventually merge to become one and the same person.
Sweet Rush/Sweet Flag/Calamus, not only refers to a Greek Myth that parallels the film, but refers to a real fragrant weed that when rubbed, wafts a calming fragrant odour that drowses the senses, can lull you into a drifting, soothing, dream state of reverie, even an hallucinatory state, sharpens mental senses and clarity, is a alleviating purifier, an internal cleanser of the physical body, nourishes the entire body, relieves stress, is a restorative, etc, and when rubbed to harshly, when the reeds are crushed, the reed dies, and when you inhale or consume too much of the reed in any form, it can supposedly cause deadly cancer.
Our life is a sweet rush that vigorously flourishes along the rivers of this earth, our lives are the blood of our ancestors, rub us gently and our fragrance, our transient, ghostly reflection, wafts and murmurs and ripples through the clear waters of time, sweetly carrying forth the memories of our pasts and presents and futures, cross-pollinating our consciousness and subconsciousness, carrying us down into the deepest depths and lifting us up to the sweetest heights, but rub the rush too harshly, we are crushed, and death, and death.
Marta dives into the sweet rush of youth that may or may not be reality, it may be her waking fantasy hallucination which she rubbed into reality as a defense mechanism to deter herself from pondering her innate feeling that her husband's death was imminent. The romance is either the recasting of a past romance she had when she was a youth, or a romance she wishes she had with consummated with a young beau, or a romance she wishes she had with her husband but could ave had because he was much older than her. This waking fantasy, this sweet rush transports her through a halcyon summer setting where youth and beauty are truth and immortality, everything is the here and the now and the light, and death holds no domination. The man she breathes into life has a girlfriend, her as a young girl, her travelling far beyond the man's grasp, sailing beyond the sweet rush of an unfilled romance, and unfilled youth, already generating regrets, heading towards a war and marriage and children, who are untimely struck down by death.
Lulled into a waking dream-state reverie by the blending fragrance of the rushes and the cadence of her memories, she almost loses her complete grasp of reality; she engrafts into life the mystic undulating aureate reeds of her memory and breathes the honey of it down as her reality; the shadow of herself as a young women glides forth half-seen beyond her peripheral, the sheer gold perfection of amour eludes her, passion dimly discovered, the golden young man the embodiment of elusive memories, elusive dreams, elusive thoughts that stream through her soul sweetly when transiently glittering, but drown her when she breaks the surface, reality terrifying her, the dream shaken off, crushing the sweet rush, the golden young man, the memory, close to her heart
Marta the middle-aged woman picks up where Marta the youth rushes off and misses the sweetness of the time, crushing a young man's spirit. The closer middle-aged Marta comes to a sexual communion with the man, the closer to the surface the reality of her husband's imminent death she nears, and the moment Bogus (Bogus? A Bogus man? A fictitious relationship, a fictitious memory of something she never experienced, the sweet rush of youth, the sweet rush of a life stripped of that which made it sweet - her children and husband? Why must the lover be....Bogus?) penetrates the depths of her subconscious, purification begins, and the rushes crush her fantasies and quench her desires, the overdose of the sweet fragrance restores her to reality, and she walks away from the film set into the harsh reality that she not only can no longer experience the fragrant height of life with her husband Edward Klosinski, the film's cinematographer, but never had the chance to experience a sweet, sensual youthful romance with him because they were already well past their prime when they met and married. Shivering and wet, rain and a steel gray bridge, traffic and city buildings, a dying body, a dying life, hauling the nets when a shoal of immortality swims by. (Arseni Tarkovsky)
I don't believe in omens or fear Forebodings. I flee from neither slander Nor from poison. Death does not exist. Everyone's immortal. Everything is too. No point in fearing death at seventeen, Or seventy. There's only here and now, and light; Neither death, nor darkness, exists. We're all already on the seashore; I'm one of those who'll be hauling in the nets When a shoal of immortality swims by.
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