Corelli’s Concerto grosso. Trees. Wind. Men. Lake. Bird. These are the figures animating Witold Leszczyński first feature length film, a cinematographic transposition of the story The Birds by Norwegian writer Tarjei Vesaas; the movie was his final work for graduation from the Łódź Film School, and it immediately had a grand debut in cinemas in 1968 Poland. It is a compassionate yet ruthless film. Poetry on the encounter between man and nature and a perfect system of cinematographic composition. It is an example of totally pure, sharp discipline and artistic awareness, which instantly won the approval of critics and Polish audiences. Leszczyński was an electroacoustic engineer, and once he graduated in cinematography and direction, he immediately made his approach clear, following the example of Carl Theodor Dreyer, “I am not interested in the image of reality but the reality of the image”. And with extremely thoughtful and enchanting precision he proceeds to compose a structure of figures in dialogue with one another, a simple and symbolic world where sacred and profane are the sounds and appearance of nature, which are not always human. Corelli’s music is an integral part of the film, and the bars of Concerto grosso are reflected in the astonished and vacant looks of Matthew, the character the film revolves around. The life of a simpleton. Nothing could be further from how we imagine, fifty years later, a film from 1968 with its signature themes: revolution with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. This is a film that contemplates. Where the lines drawn by wind on the water and undone by the current flow implacably and without memory, and the bird circling above has its own truth. Released in February 1968, the movie immediately received great attention. It was listed to compete in the Cannes Film Festival in May of the same year, but since the festival was cancelled it experienced a strange kind of censorship and was never seen. The film never had the success it could have had. After fifty years, here is the beautiful restored version for you to rediscover and contemplate.
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dal romanzo Uccelli di Tarjei Vesaas. Scen.: Witold Leszczyński, Wojciech Solarz. F.: Andrzej Kostenko. M.: Zenon Piórecki. Int.: Franciszek Pieczka (Mateusz), Anna Milewska (Olga), Wirgiliusz Gryń (Jan), Aleksander Fogiel (il padrone di casa), Hanna Skarżanka (la padrona di casa), Małgorzata Braunek (Anna), Maria Janiec (Ewa), Elżbieta Nowacka (la ragazza), Kazimierz Borowiec (il ragazzo), Aleksander Iwaniec (il cacciatore). Prod.: P.P. Film Polski, Panstwowa Wyzsza Szkola Filmowa, Telewizyjna i Teatralna. DCP. D.: 80’. Bn.
If you like this, we suggest:
Volker Schlöndorff and Frédéric Bonnaud
Martin Scorsese, Olivia Harrison and Margaret Bodde (The Film Foundation)