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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive boxset, with a disappointment and a revelation, 24 April 2012
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This review is from: Polish Cinema Classics [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
As a longtime enthusiast for Polish films, I snapped up this boxset of little-known offerings from around 1960. Three of the four feature the "superstar" Zbigniew Cybulski, always with his trademark shades made famous in Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds. Two feature a very young Roman Polanski in small roles.
Night Train, directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, is on the face of it a Hitchcockian thriller about a murderer aboard a train. During the course of the film it becomes more of a character study, with a collection of disperate passengers all with their own concerns and preoccupations. The two central characters, unknown to each other, are a man and a woman finding themselves in the same sleeping compartment owing to a mixup. An enjoyable film with a haunting outdoor sequence involving the chase of the murderer.
I own nearly a dozen DVDs of Wajda's films, and have seen several others, but Innocent Sorcerers is totally untypical and, for me, a disappointment. In fact, Wajda himself states, in an "extra", that he doesn't know why he made the film. It is like an early French "new wave" feature, most obviously Godard's A Bout de Souffle, with a long meandering conversation between the male and female leads in the former's flat. As a film it seems extremely dated.
Eroica, directed by Andrzej Munk, is the only one of these films I have seen previously, and that not for many years. It is actually two separate stories, the first a cynical war film set during the Warsaw uprising, the second set in a POW camp. Both prick the balloon of the "Polish romanticism" myth, the notion that fighting to the death is the noble thing to do. Also on this DVD is a delightful dialogue-free short, A Walk Round the Old Town of Warsaw, about a little girl carrying her violin around the eponymous area.
The real revelation, for me, was Goodbye, See You Tomorrow, by Janusz Morgenstern, of whom I had never heard. On the face of it another French-style "new wave" film, this stars Cybulski as a dreamy actor who becomes infatuated with a visiting French girl. With none of the pretentiousness of Innocent Sorcerers, and with a brief travelogue around Gdansk, this is a delightful film which should be much better known. Cybulski is terrific.
Overall a most impressive boxset, but I'm marking it down to 4 stars because of the disappointing Wajda film.
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4.2 out of 5 stars (4 customer reviews)
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Alan Pavelin
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Location: Chislehurst, UK

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