Zerkalo

zerkalo

 

"… At times something happens and I stop dreaming of the house and the pine trees of my childhood around it. Then i get depressed. And i can’t wait to see this dream in which I’ll be a child again and feel happy again because everything will still be ahead, everything will be possible." — Zerkalo (1975)

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

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Towards the end (at about 1:20:33[1]) of the film essay In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni by Guy Debord a black screen announces:

“Ici les spectateurs, privés de tout, seront en outre privés d’images.””Here the audience, deprived of everything, will also be deprived of images.”

Read more at the use of the blank screen in the cinematic works of Guy Debord.

Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

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"Have you ever heard the expression ‘let sleeping dogs lie’? Sometimes you’re better off not knowing" – Jack Gittes

Chinatown tells the story of Jack Gittes, a private detective who specialises in matrimonial cases. Gittes is hired by Evelyn Mulwray, who suspects that her husband Hollis, builder of the city’s water supply systems, is having an affair. After revelations about the identity of Mrs. Mulwry arise, Gittes finds himself embroiled in a web of scandal, deceit, incest, murder and municipal corruption.

Polanski’s use of wide, panoramic shots throughout create the emphasis on not just focusing on the character, but looking at the big picture. The camerawork and cinematography is simply enticing and sets the 1920s mood subtly.

 

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“Evelyn Mulwray: She’s my daughter.
[Gittes slaps Evelyn]
Jake Gittes: I said I want the truth!
Evelyn Mulwray: She’s my sister…
[slap]
Evelyn Mulwray: She’s my daughter…
[slap]
Evelyn Mulwray: My sister, my daughter.
[More slaps]
Jake Gittes: I said I want the truth!
Evelyn Mulwray: She’s my sister AND my daughter!”

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‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – 1968

 

"Awful things happen in every apartment house."

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The movie "Rosemary’s Baby", written for the screen and directed by Roman Polanski, from the novel by Ira Levin. John Cassavetes and Mia Farrow play a young couple who move into a new apartment, where they discover their neighbors are peculiarly friendly.  Once Mia’s character becomes pregnant, she becomes paranoid over the safety of her unborn child. In true Polanski fashion, "Rosemary’s Baby" shows that even our loved ones could be working against us because human selfishness knows no boundaries.

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In the mid 1960’s there was the  “God is Dead” faction, a theological movement that surfaced in some academic circles and became a national controversy after a cover story in Time magazine.

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Film Director Roman Polanski suffered the art inspiring real-life tragedy as his wife Sharon Tate was stabbed to death by the Manson Family while she was pregnant. The film’s composer died of a brain clot, similar to a character in the film’s predicament, just as soon as the film was done.

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I don’t know about you, but I think it is included as one of the cursed movies of the century.

Tess (1979)

Tess is an adaptation of Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, a story given too many adaptations that are often extremely similar.

Roman Polanski’s arguably only romance film, Tess, is one his critically best accepted works, and the performance of 18-year-old Nastassja Kinski, along with Paris, Texas, is probably the high point of her career. “Without Mr. Polanski’s name in the credits,” wittily stated the New York Times, “this lush and scenic Tess could even be mistaken for the work of David Lean.” This great compliment is wholeheartedly justified–Polanski created one of the best literary adaptations to date. His inspiring vision was greatly empowered by the terrific screenplay he was helped to write by Gerard Brach and John Brownjohn. Interested to see what makes for a truly great adaptation of a 19th century classic? Take a look at this scarce screenplay we were lucky enough to stumble upon.

Roman Polanski’s Tess is a work of great pastoral beauty as well as vivid storytelling

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Polanski’s roots as a genre filmmaker clearly ground him with an interest in every visual aspect that produces a period drama and pays far more attention to auteur like detail than most period feature film directors.  Instead of merely obeying period accuracies and avoiding anachronisms (the main key to many lesser quality period dramas) Tess uses Hardy’s narrative as an excuse to film a very season based film, exploring all of the potential colours and light that is produced in the countryside.

 

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“Tess of the D’Urbervilles” is what you might call a feminist story – it deals with issues like sexism, rape, victim blaming, sexuality, social class,and religion. Published in 1891, Thomas Hardy writes with a subtly that is pure art form as he criticizes many Victorian ideals, including direct judgement of the church and its skewed principles. But what’s really great about this book is that it directly parallels issues that still haven’t been resolved today. Hardy was so ahead of his time when he wrote “Tess” that aside from being borderline scandalous, it was almost completely dismissed during his lifetime.

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Screencap from the final scene of Roman Polanski’s film Tess which was dedicated to his late wife Sharon Tate. In 1969 when she departed England for her final trip back to the USA, Sharon left him a copy of Thomas Hardy’s book along with a note telling him that the book would make a good film. It would end up being the last note Roman would ever receive from Sharon.

The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck

"That night, penetrating deep into the heart of Transylvania, Professor Abronsius was unaware that he was on the point of reaching the goal of his mysterious investigations."

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Fearless Vampire Killers is what we may easily call a toothless affair, but it’s sort of charming in its own stupid way. Film is inspired by the aesthetics and mechanics of Hammer horror film, being a half tribute and half spoof of the classic British horror movies that came out of Hammer Studios in the 50s and 60s (they, again, were inspired by the even more classic Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s). Most of the slapstick is kind of awkward. It’s not really scary enough to be a proper tribute and it’s not really funny enough to be a spoof or comedy.

But I liked the castle. The castle, like all good spooky castles in horror movies, is more than an impressive set piece; it’s a character. The ersatz snow and faux-frost covering every (clearly soundstage) location gives the film a strange, phony atmosphere that sort of appealed to me too. Then there’s the awesome, bone-jangly musical score composed by Krzysztof Komeda. It feels like what it would have sounded like if Philip Glass had composed the music for Argento’s Suspiria (1977). There’s also a pretty good vampire ball towards the end. Vampires of all ages fancy regalia and dance in an elegant—albeit a bit dust-covered—ballroom. And they don’t actually kill a single vampire the entire film!

 

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Amongst the ancestral portraits in the castle is a depiction of an ugly old woman inspired by a sketch of ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ and since the 18th century frequently connected with Margarete Maultasch, countess of Tyrol (1318-1369) and the murals in Count Krolock’s hall show motifs of Peter Brueghel the elder’s “Triumph of Death” (c. 1562).

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For the ballroom scene (when the music stops and only three people are visible in a huge mirror despite of a few dozen vampires in the room) Roman Polanski had the room completely copied behind a fake mirror with three doubles acting as the human protagonists.

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A musical adaptation of Dance of the Vampires premiered at the Raimund Theater in Vienna, Austria, on October 4, 1997. It was directed by Roman Polanski, and featured music by rock composer Jim Steinman, who is best known for his work with Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler.

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Photos from the dance sequence.

And some devilish delights: Roman Polanski & Jack MacGowran on the set of The Fearless Vampire Killers.

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