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  • After a decade making shorts and films for television Krzysztof Zanussi finally made his feature debut with the short and slightly chilly art-house entry "The Structure of Crystals". It's about two old college friends, both scientists, who are reunited years later at the snowbound outpost where one of them lives and works. It's basically a chamber piece dealing with the very human issues of friendship and possible resentment and Zanussi imbues it with a dark humour. In dramatic terms nothing really happens but in spite of its setting and its subject it's anything but boring; it even alludes at one point to Chekov as if to say that boredom in itself need not be boring. It's also gorgeously shot in black and white by Stefan Matyjaszkiewicz; indeed, the whole film has the mark of a major talent.
  • A stark Black & White idyll in the snow-covered rural area of Poland, Jan (Myslowicz) is a pedantic scientist works in a local meteorological station, seemly contented with the austere lifestyle with his wife Anna (Wrzesinska), one day, a fellow scientist and his old friend Marek (Zarnecki) comes to spend his vacation with them, they haven't met for five years, but Marek conceals his real intent beneath the ostensible excuse.

    Director Krzysztof Zanussi conscientiously records the two physicists' academic tête-à-tête, as they ramble on scientific jargon, graphic atoms and hexagon structures, Marek advocates the method of producing artificial crystals, he is more urbane, worldly and more westernized (he stayed in USA for some years), obviously nonplussed by Jan's decision to keep the distance from fame and wealth, as a devoted friend, he puts out feelers to inquire his puzzle, but Jan, a humble, staid man satisfies with the status quo, responds with plumb composure, paraphrasing here "it is something neither of them can convince each other and thus they should not talk about it". The cleft lies deep between their divergent outlook on life, but it is not a hindrance to their affectionate friendship, during the diligent account of their day-to-day interactions, Marek is sometimes an envious observer, watches the spontaneous rapport between Jan and Anna with a tender smile, sometimes he is the interloper, his modern stance imperceptibly has an impact on Anna, a provincial school teacher, for her Marek stands for the allure from the world outside, a gentleman will give her flowers, invite her to dance, and even banter with her (an egoist always gets married!), a kind of man she has never met (the untold story of Marek's divorce and his statement of being an unqualified husband may suggest it may not be a good idea), but things never go across the line, the sense of propriety and the covert passion are conducted with superb finesse.

    It is also a delicate essay on comradeship, dichotomy aside, Jan and Marek thoroughly enjoy their time as two close friends who haven't seen each other for a long time, when Marek asks Jan to take the wheel of his coupé for instance, it signals an ideal of orthodox intimacy between two friends, while their exercise competition is something only exists in male-bonding. The film is profuse with such benevolent moments, even when they debate about philosophy or literature. Wojciech Kilar's lilting piano melodies wonderfully harmonize with the puissant monochromatic aesthetics, once in a while the swirling camera effortlessly captures the motion of the three characters within circumscribed space. Everything it presents is poetic, naturalistic, and what's more essential, tellingly introspective. I'm no pundit of Polish films, but I daresay it is a rare breed to preserve such dynamism under the background of bleakness and abstractionism.
  • the story of two old friends, that studied together physics in their youths, who get together in the Polish countryside. One is a sucessful and urbane researcher, the other is just a weatherman in this fringe outpost, but seemingly happily married. All three (one of the wives joins the group) they do town village activities, like go to the movies, take walks in the countryside, watch TV. The airwaves from the Swedish television broadcasting stations reach into their TV, showing walkirian blond sculptured bodies in scandinavian saunas in an atmosphere of consumeristic excess. A careful movie, depicting a friendship, the two go on for the rest of day discussing a physics problem. A beautiful movie, slow by today's standards, but at a human pace.
  • R.A.Z21 July 1999
    Black and white film, but I liked it very much. This film is one of the most important films in Polish film history. Role played by Andrzej Zarnecki was brilliant, and made him very popular, and important actor of '60 & '70 and later on in Polish film industry. There is no bum and bang stuff, so if you could be disappointed in it, but if you like intellectual entertainment, and you want to learn something about Polish film & "kino moralnego niepokoju" this is right choice.
  • It is with his second film "The Structure of Crystals"/Struktura Krysztalu that Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi embarked on an artistic mission to reveal bitter truth in his films. Most of his films contain numerous autobiographical references and are based on ordinary events featuring determined people who make untiring efforts to comprehend their troubled existences. This film is centered around a small family welcoming a friend who has come from USA. It is with absolute nonchalance that the characters utter their dialogs which have an air of scientific language. The audience becomes a part of the disagreement among the friends when they fight it out over some minor issues including one's perspective about people and aim in life. Apart from being a good piece of cinema of moral concern, "Struktura Krysztalu" reveals itself as an absolute delight for philosophy practitioners as Zanussi mentions some of the greatest names in western philosophy namely Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. It is through them that the protagonists of the film declare their dislike for infinity which is merely a mathematical concept. The last days of the great Russian writer Anton Chekov are also discussed by this film's actors enabling them to realize the banality of their conversations but also the apparent emptiness of their vacuous existence.