Between June 18th and September 22nd the Hyde Park Picture House will be presenting eight films produced in Poland over three earlier decades. Masterpieces of Polish Cinema presented by Martin Scorsese, together with The Film Foundation and the Polish Film Institute and supported by a number of other agencies. Scorsese is not only a respected and important filmmaker, he is also a collector, archivist, educator and, through his involvement in The Film Foundation, responsible for restoring and distributing key films from World Cinema.
In the case of these films the focus is on the work of the Polish National Film School at Łódź. Numerous and talented film artists have studied here. And the work that has emanated from the school has influenced not only Scorsese but also other filmmakers such as the UK’s own Lindsay Anderson.
The programmes commence with Ashes and Diamonds / Popiół i diament , 1958,
Directed by Andrzej Wajda, this is one of the earliest examples of the post-WWII European art films that I saw: on 16mm at the Bournemouth Film Society. It was a dazzling experience and offered a view of a Eastern European society vastly different from the stereotypes common in the media at that time. It also had an iconic performance by a young acting graduate of the school, Zbigniew Cybulski. The film was shot in sparkling black and white 35mm and had impressive sequences by cinematographer Jerzy Wójcik.
The picture is saturated with symbols and metaphors, which are capable of expressing the tension between objective reality and the subjective aspect of expression. (B Urgošikova in The International Dictionary of Films).
Three of the more memorable are a ruined church; celebratory fireworks; and a series of sheets hanging out to dry: the latter copied or homaged many times.