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Magnetic Pole: Andrzej Kondratiuk and the Strange Attraction of "Hydro-Riddle"

StardustExile can take many forms. Several major filmmakers from Poland famously followed the Chopin route to France—Walerian Borowczyk, Andrzej Żuławski, to a degree even Krzysztof Kieślowski—while their pugilistic peer Jerzy Skolimowski, as well as Roman Polanski, was ranging even further across Europe and beyond. But the comically-oriented writer-director Andrzej Kondratiuk—an early Polanski co-conspirator, who died in June aged 79—found voluntary geographical exile without leaving his own country. He was able to renew his creative energies in rural isolation, seeking, gaining and retaining true independence amid a political system founded upon collective, communal effort. Kondratiuk’s five-decade career is thus a consistently idiosyncratic and enigmatic one, encompassing eight theatrical features, several shorts and five TV-movies. Among the latter is the work for which he’s now best known—at least at home—the raucous and irresistibly-titled black-and-white superhero/comicbook spoof Hydro-Riddle (Hydrozagadka, 1972), which after hostile initial reactions has

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