Polish animation holds a very special position in the hearts of all fans of classic animation. It has been described as containing “a sense of absurdity, surrealism and anguished settings”. All true, but to this could also be added a love of complex, adult fairytales and a willingness to take the best from western and eastern visual influences. The names of the finest Polish animators stand high on any list of master animators. Jan Lenica, Jerzy Kucia, Zbigniew Rybczynski, Piotr Dumala and Walerian Borowczyk and many more are represented in this comprehensive four programme retrospective, co-presented by Etiuda&Anima, Poland and LIAF. Details of the second of the four programmes are shown below.
‘Podróż/ A Trip’ (Daniel Szczechura, 1970)
‘A Trip’, sometimes called an “anti-film”, is one of the turning points in Szczechura’s career, as well as in the history of Polish animation. Seemingly, nothing happens – The viewer watches a train journey and a rhythm is determined by monotonous sounds, pylons and the landscapes that the train passes.
‘Syn/The Son’ (Ryszard Czekała, 1970)
A young man, engaged in big-city life, forgets about his home village, where his elderly parents live alone, missing and waiting for their son.
‘Apel/The Roll-Call’ (Ryszard Czekała, 1970)
One of the most stirring films in the history of animation. In a simple, but powerful way, Czekała presents the horror of concentration camps – the dread of the prisoners, humiliation and lost humanity.
‘Test I’ (Józef Robakowski, 1971)
‘Test I’ was made in the ‘Workshop of Film Form’ in Łódź, where Robakowski and other artists attempted to give up traditional narrative forms. It is a non-camera film. As a result of the tape’s perforation a viewer is attacked by intense light from a projector, which is then reflected in a mirror.
‘Bankiet/The Banquet’ (Zofia Oraczewska, 1976)
‘The Banquet’ is still one of the most popular Polish animated films. Servants prepare the table for a
luxurious dinner party in a beautiful palace. Guests are gathering slowly. Suddenly, they are surprised by
an unexpected change of roles between the eater and the eaten.
‘Portret/Portrait’ (Stanisław Lenartowicz,1977)
A poetic impression about the passing of time and about youth. This film combines a number of different animation techniques.
‘Droga/Road’ (Mirosław Kijowicz, 1971)
A philosophical parable about a man at a crossroads. He divides himself in two and each half follows its own path. When they meet again, they no longer fit together. The journey changed them irreversibly.
‘Pierwszy Film/The First Film’ (Józef Piwkowski, 1981)
Piwkowski uses animation, tricks, electronics, and colour filters to play with the Lumière
brothers’ film, ‘Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory’.
‘Refleksy/Reflection’ (Jerzy Kucia, 1979)
An ironic reflection on life, rivalry and pointless fighting. An insect emerges from its cocoon only to be attacked by another insect. The film received many awards, including the ‘Golden Dragon’ at the Cracow Film Festival.
‘Tango’ (Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1980)
One by one, people enter a small room. Sequences of their rhythmical
movements begin looping and overlapping, but they do not interfere with each other. Tango won the very first Oscar in the history of Polish cinema.
‘Solo na Ugorze/ Solo in a Fallow Field’ (Jerzy Kalina, 1981)
Kalina creates an anti-ballad about a farmer’s hard life to the rhythm of the popular folk song, ‘Ukochany Kraj, Umiłowany Kraj’ (Beloved Country, Dear Country). Monotonous and mechanical activities degrade a man.
‘Łagodna/ Gentle Spirit’ (Piotr Dumała, 1985)
This film is inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel. An old man sits with the dead body of his younger wife. The film is made using a technique (discovered and refined by Dumała) whereby images are scratched into plaster.