Saturday, 28 July 2012

Man on the Tracks [1956]

The exceptionally talented Polish filmmaker Andrzej Munk, who would go on to make the seminal classic Bad Luck, made his feature film debut with Man on the Tracks, one of the earliest works in the Polish Film School movement and one of the most influential movies of the country. Munk made wonderful use of Rashomon Effect, immortalized by Akira Kurosawa in Rashomon, to chronicle the tale of Władysław, a former railway engineer, who has died under mysterious circumstances. During an indoor fact-finding session to investigate his death that nearly resulted in the derailment of a passenger train, the engineer’s life and the possible explanation for the event under the lens, are meticulously pieced together from the accounts of various participants – the stationmaster who had once worked under him and later went on to fire him, the driver of the train which killed him and who had apprenticed under him for a period of time sharing a strained relationship, and a signal operator who was the last person to speak to him. Though some of the members of the small committee are quick to draw conclusions about him, the elaborate, brilliantly structured and exquisitely layered flashbacks present him as a complex, well-rounded human being – a gruff person whose love for the locomotive ultimately results in his downfall, and that the reality was quite different vis-à-vis the perceptions. Kazimierz Opaliński provided a superb turn as the deceased protagonist in this psychologically invigorating, darkly ironic, politically charged, and deeply humanistic commentary on the subjectivity of human memory.

Director: Andrzej Munk
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Political Drama
Language: Polish
Country: Poland

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