Similarly to greatly renowned productions of Italian Neorealism that aimed at depicting the post-war reality in a convincing manner, this rarity of Polish cinema directed by Leonard Buczkowski appears to be a true surprise. Depicting the post-war period in the ruins of Warsaw, it surprises us with its realism and humor that, unlike many productions of the time, still create a desirable effect. Buczkowski, who made this film two years after famous FORBIDDEN SONGS supplies us with something different here but not at all less appealing. Bearing the same title as the famous silent classic by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, THE TREASURE offers a brilliant display of witty situations and satirical glimpse of society (not merely the society of the time).
An interesting note is how finely the film mocks the social drawbacks like greed, prejudice, jealousy and celebrates the values like honesty, youthfulness and determination. Let us have a brief outline of the content.
A newly wed couple Krystyna (Danuta Szaflarska) and Witold (Jerzy Duszynski) are looking for a flat in the ruined Warsaw. As difficult as it may seem, the enthusiastic young husband finds a seemingly suitable flat to live. They desire privacy, no doubt about that. Luckily, they seem to have found it in a beautifully equipped flat owned by distinguished Honorata (Jadwiga Hojnacka). The silent witness of their joy is a little piece of paper where Witold notes...'treasure'...the spot where his treasure (his wife) will sleep. Yet, problems arise when it occurs that they are not at all alone and will never be left alone. There are more residents of the flat, some displaying exceptional humor, some highlighting suspicion, some depicting in-depth interest in what is going on. They seem to be individual phenomena to a certain moment...when it occurs to them that a 'treasure' is hidden somewhere in the flat. The mutual quest combined with curiosity and greed will unite them...
The storytelling, as simple as it may seem, addresses certain values that have always been deeply rooted in the society. The witty, almost comical manner in which the movie develops that aspect may sometimes occur dated. Nevertheless, it never leaves a viewer totally indifferent to its gist. However, we can skip that point and see the film solely for performances where there is still much to be celebrated.
The characters are exceptionally clear, memorable and very convincing. They make the story vibrant and interesting. Danuta Szaflarska, the actress who has herself experienced the tragedy of war, does not resort to certain melancholy in her role but, like in FORBIDDEN SONGS, supplies us with a captivating portrait of a young wife with her dreams, desires, expectations. This role is very much alike the real Danuta Szaflarska with her ever present optimism and warmth. We feel the story with her. But, as an actress, she is never powerful alone and leaves much freedom to her co-star Jerzy Duszynski who portrays Witold. His determination becomes transparent in many scenes and an almost symbolic reference to the young generation - the eyes of the future. They are the couple of hope amidst the ruins of the old society. Among the supporting cast, a particular mention must be made of Adolf Dymsza who portrays Alfred Ziolko with excellent humor and some hilarious touches. His imitations of sounds, animals' sounds long remain in the memory of the viewer. A great comedian!
THE TREASURE is a film highly worth seeing because it is far from any post war propaganda but rather depicts the difficult reality with a necessary element of humor that is a true 'treasure' in our hands which always makes life more endurable. 8/10
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