Tuesday 7 August 2012

Eroica (Heroic Symphony) [1958]

Andrzej Munk, who was one of the founding fathers of the Polish Film School, had his career tragically cut short by a car accident while he was shooting only his fourth feature film; nonetheless, he managed to leave behind an exceptional body of work as his legacy. Made right after his wonderful debut feature Man on the Tracks, Eroica remains a strong competitor to his last completed film, the magnificent Bad Luck, for the title of best work of his short career. This brilliant satire set during WWII comprised of two segments that, despite their differing tones and compositions, were joined by their common themes of the romanticization of heroism. The first was a whimsical tragi-comedy about a callous, drunken man (Edward Dziewonski) who unwittingly becomes a vital keg in Warsaw Uprising against Germans by the underground Resistance movement, while the second was a searing tale of a POW camp where the only thing that keeps the hopes of the imprisoned Polish officers alive is the legend of a former prisoner who managed to escape from the hell-hole. The key element that Munk devised this grand and acerbic satire on was the dichotomy between truth and perception, and the need for heroism during an otherwise bleak period marked by war, death, loss, suffering and a sense of hopelessness. Consequently, he filled the movie with tongue-in-cheek observations, wry and subversive humour, sardonic wit, and scorching ironies, at the backdrop of grim realism. The stark B/W photography laced the proceedings with strong sense of doom and moodiness. The film was interestingly supposed to have a third story which Munk didn’t eventually go ahead with.

Director: Andrzej Munk
Genre: Drama/Comedy/Black Comedy/Political Satire/War Drama
Language: Polish
Country: Poland

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