2 January 2009 | Vallaor
The boy, the cat and the old Egyptian spell
Very popular more than twenty years ago, but nearly forgotten by now, this mini-series is at last available on DVD. For mature viewers like me this is definitely nostalgic experience. I'm not sure, if the show will once more win the youngest audience, accustomed to the newest digital effects. Let's hope for the best, because "Seven Wishes" is definitely worth it!
Poland, A.D. 1984. Young boy, called Darek Tarkowski (not related to the famous Russian director!) rescues a black cat from the neighborhood bullies. It turns out that the cat, who has the ability to speak, is in fact an incarnation of Rademenes, an ancient Egyptian priest. Out of the gratitude, Rademenes sets to fulfill seven wishes of it's savior. But there are certain limits. Darek can ask only once a week, in Wednesday, and every of his wishes comes true for just one day.
There are both seven wishes and seven episodes of the show (Warning: possible minor spoilers!).
1. "Rademenes" - In the first episode, the plot of the whole series is settled, but there's also time for Darek's first wish, rather unconsidered one. The boy is a fan of "Wanda i Banda" and dreams about owning the same equipment as the members of this popular Polish rock group. Rademenes fulfills the wish by simply trans-locating "Wanda i Banda" equipment in Darek's apartment.
2. "The Pharaoh's Glance" - Darek feels somewhat ignored by his parents and quite often threatened by a fierce teacher in school. That's why he wants to be the one in command. The cat endows him with domineering "Pharaoh's glance". In consequence, every adult person in Darek's sight is forced to obey him. Sounds fun at first, but in time this gift becomes most tiresome.
3. "To be an Adult" - The title says it all. And as for the reasons: Darek wants to go to the cinema, but is not allowed due to his young age. Rademenes gives him the look of his father ("He was the only model i had" - he explains later to clearly disappointed boy). Just like previous wishes, it turns to be more troublesome than helpful. By the way - "Seksmisja", the movie that Darek so desperately wants to see, is now considered one of the most popular Polish comedies of all time and definitive family fare. Hard to believe, that it once was labeled as an "adult" (R-Rated) feature!
4. "Lots of Love and Happiness" - For the first time Darek wishes something not for himself. He wants to make his mother absolutely happy. Simple request really, but Rademenes slightly exaggerates and mother, full of adrenaline and out of control, starts to behave rather strangely.
5. "The Magic Ring" - The ring from the title is not necessarily magic, but surely an expensive one. Jacek, best friend of Darek, carelessly takes it from his father's jewel-box. Pretty soon the ring is lost and the trouble begins. For the first time in the series Darek must choose. He can help Jacek with his wish or use it for his own purposes (this time he desperately wants to go to the circus). The fifth episode is definitely most pedagogical. It delivers a clear message of altruism to the young audience. Thankfully, it never becomes preachy and stiffed, due to the overall comical tone.
6. "The Curse of The Goddess Bast" - The most impressive episode in the series, filled with beautiful (and sometimes spine-chilling) imagery. It clearly borrows a lot from "Pharaoh", extraordinary classic, directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz. Darek wants to know, what was the cause of Rademenes' curse (which is: not to be allowed to die, but forever reborn in a form of the cat). Rademenes takes the boy back in time, to ancient Egypt. Darek learns, what a life that day and age looked like and painfully learns, that some secrets are better left untold...
7. "Senemedar" - Darek falls in love with a girl, but doesn't know her whereabouts. This time some magic would really help, but there's a problem. After the boy's last demand, Rademenes will loose all his power and be forever imprisoned in a body of the cat. Unless Darek wishes for him to become human. Once again our teenage hero must make a hard choice...
Despite being only seven episodes long, "Seven Wishes" comes as a very complex, rich experience. It's obviously aimed at young audience, but older spectators should not be worry: this show has something for everybody. It's always witty, sometimes downright funny, sometimes more serious in tone. Realistic, yet containing subtle fantasy elements. All the cast is great in their well-written roles, but the most memorable performance is that of Maciej Zebaty, famous Polish singer and poet, who gives voice to Rademenes (and is also responsible for the script). "Wanda i Banda", very popular at the time, not only makes an appearance in the first episode, but provides the whole show with a catchy musical score.
Last but not least, "Seven Wishes" is quite educational. I mean, in a good way! It tells more about some Egyptian beliefs and rituals than many big-budget spectacles ("The Mummy", for example). Personally, I can't think of a more convenient way to teach children history than to give them the right lectures. For the Roman Empire period, "Asterix" would be the best choice. For ancient Egypt I would try classical movies like "The Ten Commandments" (both DeMille versions are fine), "Cleopatra" (1934)), "The Land Of The Pharaohs" (1955), but especially this fine mini-series.