1960s is my favourite decade in Polish cinema. There are plenty of movies, that I'd have to discuss in this post, as essentials in the 60s history. I decided to present a list of my six favourites, from which all of them play an important role in the history of Polish cinema.
Let me begin with my two absolute favourites in Polish cinema in general, which are "Good Bye, Till Tomorrow" and "Innocent Sorcerers". These two films have one important thing in common. Both movies take up the subject of the youth, people who were born around 1930s and affected by Polish October. After Stalinism there came the end of indoctrination of the youth in political life, as well as indoctrination in Polish cinema. Never before has the private human space been so important. People could finally live their life the way they wanted to. They could have fun and focus on their spare time more than work. Most importantly, they could finally love. Unfortunately, the famous Polish October revealed hooliganism, prostitution and bitterness in the young society. They felt betrayed by their country, politics and everything they used to believe in. Their whole perception of the world has changed and so have their attitude towards life and established rules. They started to behave cynically and pretend, act in front of each other. They weren't able to reveal their real feelings anymore, as they were too afraid to be hurt and disappointed again. The exact kind of behaviour is presented in "Innocent Sorcerers", which I'm going to describe in a second.
The 1960s decade in Polish cinema was considered to be a small stability. The theme of youth was hard to transfer on a screen, as the most common subject to talk about was the past, which is war. Most importantly, the authority didn't want to reveal their defeat in the field of indoctrination. Even before 1960s. some movies were censored because of that, for example "Lost Affections" (1957) were pulled back from the screen after a couple of days, as it's revealed the real, solitary life of the youth. Both movies, "Good Bye, Till Tomorrow" and "Innocent Sorcerers", open a new group of films, that are centred on the theme of intelligent characters, who's just graduated from school. These films present their behaviours, customs, fashion, language, their priorities, art phenomena etc. "Good Bye, Till Tomorrow" is a positive, refreshing and cheerful love story. It's the first one to take up the subject of love, as in the times of Stalinism love was only a friendship, that has started at work and in the times of Polish Film School love was only a short periodic moment, a kind of escape from war. The second type of love, as an escape from war, is well presented in one of Polish masterpieces of cinema from the 50s. "Ashes and Diamonds" by Andrzej Wajda (1958). However, "Innocent Sorcerers" presents love in a completely different way than "Good Bye, Till Tomorrow", in a negative way. It perfectly shows the issue of young people's bitterness, disappointment and cynical posture towards reality that surrounds them.
1. "GOOD BYE, TILL TOMORROW" (1960)
DIRECTED BY JANUSZ MORGENSTERN | WRITTEN BY ZBIGNIEW CYBULSKI, BOGUMIŁ KOBIELA, WILHELM MACH
"Good Bye, Till Tomorrow" is a romance and a Janusz Morgenstern's debut film. It tells a story of a man, Jacek (Zbigniew Cybulski), who falls in love with a French girl, Marguerite (Teresa Tuszyńska).
The director was fascinated with art phenomena on the coast. The art, such as a famous back then Hand Theatre "Bim Bom". In the film there are some beautiful scenes, where the theatre performs. Thanks to the use of it, the movie is very unique and artistic. What's very interesting about it, it's the surrounding of people, who have created the theatre. These people weren't actors or men of letters, but architects and visual artists. According to that fact, the theatre was more concentrated on a visual aspects, such as scenography, image and props, instead of verbal aspects. There were two directors of the theatre, Zbigniew Cybulski and Bogumił Kobiela. Jan Morgenstern, asked them to participate in creating the script for the movie. Although there is one more name mentioned when talking about the script. Wilhelm Mach was a man of letters, which is why they put his name as a writer for the movie. However, the truth is, he had nothing to do with the script, his name was only put there to make the script look better and more convincing for the critics. Bogumił Kobiela wrote only one scene to the film, that wasn't even included in the final version. The whole script was actually written by Zbigniew Cybulski himself. "Good Bye, Till Tomorrow" was filmed in a tri-city area in Poland: Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot. It shown the beauty of Gdańsk, as it's never been seen before. Even though the city was sill destroyed after the 1st World War, the creators of the film managed to choose the best, most beautiful parts to be shawn on the screen.
"Good Bye, Till Tomorrow" is a positive, cheerful and worm movie. It's my number one movie in Polish cinema. First of all, because of a splendid acting of both, Zbigniew Cybulski and extremely charming Teresa Tuszyńska. In terms of cinematography, it's undeniably the most beautiful Polish film I've ever seen and one of the best in general. The use of light, shadows and reflections create a unique atmosphere. It's one of this films that I just couldn't forget after watching it for the first time and also one of those that made me want to become a filmmaker. I highly recommend it to any cinema lover, especially to those who want to explore Polish cinema!
DIRECTED BY ANDRZEJ WAJDA | WRITTEN BY JERZY ANDRZEJEWSKI AND JERZY SKOLIMOWSKI
2. "INNOCENT SORCERERS" (1960)
"Innocent Sorcerers" on the other hand presents love in a negative way. It's a story of a young doctor and jazzman, Bazyli (Tadeusz Łomnicki), who spends only one night with a girl, Pelagia (Krystyna Stypulkowska). They're playing a cynical game with each other.
Although the plot seems to be simple and trivial, the movie is more focused on its inner philosophy. When Andrzej Wajda and Jerzy Andrzejewski were working on a script for the movie, they met Jerzy Skolimowski and asked him about his opinion. Skolimowski didn't like the idea much, as he thought that the youth is presented unrealistically. According to him, young people play jazz and go boxing. Skolimowski knew many relevant things about '56 youth from his own experience and so he had a huge influence in creating the script by including some facts from his personal life. First of all, when he was a teenager he used to box. Second of all, he was a huge fan of Krzysztof Komeda, a Polish composer, who was a jazzman and a doctor at the time.
Surprisingly, in comparison to all the previous Wajda's films, that were mostly on a theme of war and politict, this one turned out to be the most controversial for the critics. It was suspended from publication for a year. The whole problem was the ending, that was considered inappropriate. In the first version Pelagia left the apartment and never came back. The second version showed a close up of Pelagia in her school uniform. When the camera dollied out to the wide shot the audience could see her sitting in the classroom with other students, all dressed the same and looking alike. The purpose of it was to show that even though Pelagia might have seemed unique and one of a kind, she's actually just one of a million. The authority thought that the movie is non didactic and it lacks a happy end. What's more the characters' cynical posture and the way they sacrifice their time for fun, instead of doing something productive, create the wrong idea in the society. Some critics though that the movie is highbrow, because of its sophisticated existential dialogue. There was one more criticism to the film, that said about promoting entertainment, night life, provocative fashion etc. The movie was considered to create the wrong model of society. After releasing the movie with a final, current version of the ending some critics thought that it's even worse than the previous ones, as instead of leaving the audience thinking and asking questions, they let them accept the way things ended.
Another important thing to mention is jazz music. It was a very common thing to play jazz music at this time. Young people were fascinated about it and they used to spend their spare time in a famous Warsaw pub, where jazz concerts took place.
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