An allegorical masterpiece of Polish cinema, this visionary meditation on time and memory won the 1973 Cannes Jury Prize for its phantasmagorical mosaic of history and vanishing Jewish culture.
Dispensing with traditional narrative, the specter of the Holocaust looms over the surreal journey of Józef (Jan Nowicki) who comes to visit his long-dead father, kept alive in the temporal distortions of a mystical sanatorium. Wandering among the eerily decaying rooms occupied by carnivalesque characters, the young man traverses a series of dreamlike, often nightmarish episodes from his childhood, presaging the historical horrors to come. From there, past and present, reality and fantasy, collapse into each other, unleashing a hallucinatory search for divine knowledge and personal meaning, which is by turns paranoiac, elegiac, eroticized, whimsical, and everywhere haunted.
Owing to the sensitive political subtext, Polish authorities originally sought to suppress the film, until writer-director Wojciech Jerzy Has smuggled a print to be shown in Cannes. Today, critics and scholars celebrate this brilliant avant-garde adaptation of poetic short stories by noted Polish-Jewish author Bruno Schulz. The otherworldly, award-winning production design is vividly captured in Witold Sobocinski’s jaw-dropping cinematography, with a remastered soundtrack and frame-by-frame digital restoration by master filmmaker and cinephile Martin Scorsese.+ More... - Less...
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