In this edition of Poland's Week in Culture we have a sad news about writer Andrzej Szczypiorski, the welcome return of the cultural announcements (there are two) and why Krzysztof Krauze's film Dlug (Debt) is so terrifyingly good.
Writer and essayist Andrzej Szczypiorski died in Warsaw on 16 May, at the age of 72. He was a revered author (his probably best known book is Poczatek / The Beginning), an insightful essayist advocating Polish-German reconciliation in order to heal the wounds of World War II and an often biting publicist who would as much criticize the new Solidarity-born power elites as he would praise them before 1989.
Dług by Krzysztof Krauze
How come that after-1989 Poland ceased to be a favorite theme for Polish directors? The complexity of new economical, political and social realities was seemingly crying to be analyzed, filmed and then discussed nationwide.
With censorship gone, a subtle possibility of conveying concepts that were against the grain of the then regime - by means of allusions and understatements - was gone as well. No boundaries were left except for filmmakers' creativeness and producers' resources, yet Polish movies of the last eleven years could nearly all be labeled as mediocre. Not in terms of their beauty, fine scenarios, actors' performances, and entertainment values - there were good movies that lived up to those criteria. But "good" is not always "important," and this latter quality was lacking too often as nationwide discussions referred rather to whom Jerzy Hoffman was going to cast in Ogniem i Mieczem. A rather lighthearted issue, was it not?
What a colorless description! There must have been thousands of films like this. This is not a straightforward crime flick, however. Scene after scene it shows the mechanism of how everyone - for two indebted men, Adam and Stefan, are people like us: they feel, have scruples - can become an object of an evil action. Gerard is a cold-blooded criminal with an appearance of a respected and successful businessman. His terrifying presence can be felt throughout the whole movie even though it is not a leading role. When he extracts information from Adam's pregnant wife he is so nice and when he casts a net of brutality and blackmail over her husband and his friend ( as a result their friendship is severely tested) he is appallingly ruthless.
Again, this sounds as if Dług were a straightforward movie. Its importance - apart from the mechanism of being succumbed to evil - lies in showing a section of reality of today's Poland of which crime has become the most unnerving feature. It is analyzed in the media, and politicians' speeches are full of demagogic tirades on that it should be fought, etc. Krzysztof Krauze shows on one hand how helpless we are in face of Gerard and on the other, how we let such people humiliate us - out of fear, because we are afraid, because we have scruples. And Gerard does not. He exercises a total control over his victims until, in a desperate desicion, they decide to stand against him, and, finally, they kill him in a frantic and chaotic scene.
"All You Need is Love" is the title of an exhibition held in Gdansk's Laznia Contemporary Art Center. The exhibition's theme is male-female relationships in 20th century culture. There will be multimedia projects from Marity Luli, Alex Bag, Andreas Kaufmann, Dan Asher and Hanna Nowicka-Grochal. The exhibition lasts from 19 May to 31 July. More info: 00 48 58 305 26 80.Kontakt 2000 is the name for the 10th International Theater Festival held in Torun from May 20 to May 26. In the program: Crime and Punishment by artists from Tallin, Midsummer Night's Dream by Oskaras Korsunovas theater from Vilnius and more. Info: 00 48 56 622 52 22.
Wojtek Kość, 22 May 2000