Lech Majewski – Onirica – Psie Pole AKA Onirica – Field of Dogs (2014)

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Synopsis:
The film is a video-art para documentary following Adam, a literature scholar who has a hard time in making a connecting with the surrounding world after he survives an accident. He quits his job and becomes a store cashier in order to have more time to study Dante’s Divine Comedy. The film is both a visual experiment and a tribute to Majewski’s beloved city Katowice.

“These are intimate visions, things that are in my head that are taking place in Katowice. Why Katowice? I was born there, I lived all over the world, but the visions that I have are usually connected with this place,” Majewski told FNE. Continue reading

Lech Majewski – Angelus (2000)

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Thoroughly and rather inscrutably Polish, Angelus makes a fable of Poland’s 20th-century history. In it, caricatures of Hitler and Stalin mix with angels, saints, and a kooky band of sun-worshipping cultists who believe a ray from Saturn will destroy the planet. In a world director Majewski renders in stylized, eccentric tableaus, this eschatology seems fairly reasonable–even if it means a naked, virginal teen boy must be sacrificed to absorb the ray and save the Earth. (Is he a Christ figure? Well, Angelus is fairly well suffused with religious symbolism, so you do the math.) This guileless chosen one narrates the decades-spanning tale, which often suggests a gentler kind of Emir Kustericia-style absurdist nationalism (see Underground) shorn of sex and violence. What lies next for Poland after the horrors of WWII and repression of the communist era? How will the world end? Judged by the movie (if not its prophecies), more with a whimper than a bang.
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Lech Majewski – Wojaczek (1999)

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Description

A portrait of socialist Poland circa 1971 that recounts the last years of Polish poet Rafal Wojaczek, a rebel who became a legend.

Review from the New York Times

Wojaczek is a charming, maddening poète maudit whose every waking moment is a rebellion against the world around him. That world, Poland in the late 1960’s — the real Wojaczek died in 1971, at the age of 26 — is presented in gorgeously grim black and white. Mr. Majewski’s camerawork has an almost classical austerity, and for its first half the movie seems as static and distant as his shots. But just as Wojaczek’s nihilism has a core of passionate wit, so too does the movie as it moves deathward, picking up glimmers of humor amid the gloom. The funniest scenes — which might have come from the imagination of Jim Jarmusch or the young David Lynch — take place at a cavernous literary cafe, where a band called the Secret performs deadpan pop tunes while Wojaczek glowers and rants. Mr. Majewski’s view of him is candid, but also unmistakably romantic; he would rather present Wojaczek’s enigma than unravel it. Continue reading

Lech Majewski – The Garden of Earthly Delights (2004)

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Review from the Village Voice:
Images can be tyrannical things. In The Garden of Earthly Delights, faded videos trace the once vibrant presence of a lover. Chris (Chris Nightingale) obsessively replays the tapes containing his life with Claudia (Claudine Spiteri), finding himself imprisoned by the memories of former flesh. Adapting his own novel Metaphysics, director Lech Majewski edits these tapes together as bursts of remembrance, a collision of joyously tactile caresses from when the couple was vacationing in Venice. The film is given shape by their re-enactment of scenes from the titular Bosch painting after Claudia’s cancer comes out of remission. There is magic in these intimate passion plays, which are filled with sloppy, loving detail and are mounted without a hint of pretension. Each banal moment becomes achingly gorgeous, not least because of Spiteri’s disarmingly straightforward performance. The movie’s philosophy is lucid and humane: Life is precious because it is short. True, but it gives no answer to the man who remains. All he has are shadows.

Art and sex. A little bit reminiscent of Greenaway, but without his penchant for hiding a smug obtuseness beneath an overtly mechanical plot. Beautiful and a fine example of what can be achieved with video. Continue reading

Lech Majewski – Prisoner of Rio (1988)

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“Prisoner of Rio is a 1988 drama film directed by Lech Majewski and starring Steven Berkoff, Paul Freeman and Peter Firth. It shows the flight of the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs to Brazil and the attempts of Scotland Yard detectives to re-capture him.

In 1981, Ronald Biggs was kidnapped by agents from Scotland Yard from his Brazilian hideout for his participation in the 1964 British train robbery. This feature was written by Biggs and director Lech Majewski as a fictionalized account of the authorities trying to bring the colorful crook to justice. Paul Freeman plays Biggs, infamous for his participation in the $5 million heist dubbed “The Great Train Robbery”. Jack McFarland (Steven Berkoff) is the Scotland Yard agent obsessed with apprehending Biggs and placing him on board a British navy ship bound for England. Nudity abounds in the final carnival scene as Biggs stays one step ahead of his captors. Colorful scenes of Rio are the highlight of this feature hampered by a thin script. Continue reading

Lech Majewski – The Mill and the Cross (2011)

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Quote:
Here is a film before which words fall silent. “The Mill & the Cross” contains little dialogue, and that simple enough. It enters into the world of a painting, and the man who painted it. If you see no more than the opening shots, you will never forget them. It opens on a famous painting, and within the painting, a few figures move and walk. We will meet some of those people in more detail.

The painting is “The Way to Calvary” (1564), by the Flemish master Pieter Bruegel the Elder. We might easily miss the figure of Christ among the 500 in the vast landscape. Others are going about their everyday lives. That’s a reminder of Bruegel’s famous painting “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus,” about which Auden wrote of a passing ship “that must have seen something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.” Extraordinary events take place surrounded by ordinary ones. Continue reading