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Polish Cinema Classics Volume II [DVD]
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A second volume of our acclaimed series. Second Run DVD proudly presents three celebrated works of Polish Cinema, now fully restored and released for the first time ever in the UK.
Andrzej Wajda PROMISED LAND (Ziemia obiecana, 1974)
Voted the best film in the history of Polish cinema in the monthly Polish magazine FILM, Wajda's Oscar-nominated epic Promised Land is a wry, incisive, shocking and elegantly realised Dickensian tale of greed, human cruelty, exploitation and betrayal.
Krzysztof Zanussi - ILLUMINATION (Iluminacja, 1973)
Zanussi's philosophical/scientific exploration of man's place in the world. Illumination serves as an idiosyncratic, engaging, and insightful fusion of science and art, precision and creativity, intellect and emotion.
Wojciech Marczewski - ESCAPE FROM 'LIBERTY' CINEMA (Ucieczka z kina 'Wolnosc', 1990)
Marczewski's engaging anti-communist satire (with shades of Keaton's Sherlock, Jr. and Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo) is a darkly comic, complex, allusive and deeply-felt examination of the nature and effects of censorship, directed by one of Poland's leading intellectual - and much censored - filmmakers.
All three films are presented in new HD digital transfers with restored picture and sound, approved by the filmmakers, and will feature newly filmed, exclusive interviews with directors Andrzej Wajda, Wojciech Marczewski and Krzysztof Zanussi.
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All three of these features screened as part of this year's Polish Film Festival, and they looked stunning on screen. I'm happy to say that the same restorations were used for the DVD mastering and they look equally stunning on DVD.
The cream of the crop for me must be Andrzej Wajda's magnum opus THE PROMISED LAND (1974). A grand, sweeping epic of the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the many lives (and morals) laid waste in it's path (that's progress!). Recalling Dickens, Zola, Gaskell and others, Wajda's film is uncompromising and unsentimental in it's portrayal of three friends in ruthless pursuit of fortune. The film looks beautiful and lavish, the score is simply wonderful and the performances pitch-perfect. In a fascinating new video interview on the DVD Wajda reveals that the incredible sets and design were not sets at all - but actual locations in the old Polish city of Lodz, as described in the original 1897 novel and still standing untouched in the early 1970s when he came to shoot the film!
Krystzof Zanussi's 1972 film ILLUMINATION is a more cerebral, experimental film - but equally fascinating about a young physicist trying to understand his place in the universe. Again, the film looks terrific and is again accompanied by an informative new video interview with the refined and urbane Zanussi, plus a beautiful short film A Trace about the young lead actor in the film who died tragically in 1974, and made by his own son in 1996. It's a poetic and extremely touching, but determinedly unsentimental, account of a young man trying to discover the father he barely knew.
Rounding out the set is ESCAPE FROM THE LIBERTY CINEMA by Wojciech Marczewski, a black comedy about a disheveled film-censor who is horrified to discover that the actors in a film playing at a local cinema are rebelling and refusing to participate in the bad movie they've wound up in! If this sounds kind-of familiar, it's because Marczewski cleverly takes the premise of Woody Allen's beloved PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO and gives it an added - and poignant - political spin. Very funny, but also quietly disturbing.
Unfathomably none of these films were ever before released in the UK. Thanks again to Second Run we are able to see these great works of European cinema for the first time - and looking so good in these stunning, fresh restorations.
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