25 July 2019 | hof-4
The past and the present
Witold (Wit) Braun is the scion of a Polish family of German origin that saw better times between the wars. In socialist postwar Poland they only remain in possession of their old dilapidated mansion, with vast but uncared for gardens being swallowed up by apartment complexes. They live near a large glass factory that used to belong to them.
Wit, an engineer with a promising future, works in an industrial complex in Chorzów, a city in Southern Poland near Katowice. He is estranged from his family, perhaps because contact may be detrimental to his career, but mainly because he wants to break free from the family's plans for him.
Motivated by a disquieting telegram, Wit decides to visit his family and is given a ride by Marek, a friend from work. The movie shows the interaction of Wit and Marek with Wit's family over two days and one night. On its face, the movie is about the actions/reactions of conflicted human beings, where Wit represents the future, or at least tries to. It may perhaps be taken as a metaphor for Poland and other European countries where past glories, real or imagined, have many times weighted heavily (and negatively) on day-to-day decisions.
This is the second full length feature film by director Krzysztof Zanussi, who also wrote the script. Direction is fluid and striking shots are unobtrusively inserted such as the jungle of drafting tables in Wit's office or a much used Tatra automobile being hemmed in by two shiny black Mercedes limousines. Acting is first rate all around (not unusual in Polish movies) and low key cinematography suits perfectly the action. This is one of the more than 200 Polish movies that have been digitally remastered recently with excellent results.