Tuesday 4 March 2014

Iluminacja (The Illumination) [1973]

Iluminacja, one of Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi’s earliest features, had strong social and personal content that I could identify with. However, the content was filmed in a highly experimental and deliberately distancing style that made it an interesting, incisive and intellectually stimulating watch, and also a dry and tad laborious one requiring some efforts on the viewer’s front. The film’s loosely structured narrative focused on a few years in the life of an intelligent and nerdish young man called Franciszek (Stanislaw Latallo) – his enrollment in the Physics department at the Warsaw University, his love for the sciences, his falling for and eventual marriage to the beautiful Agnieszka (Monika Dzienisiewicz-Olbrychska), the struggle to meet ends financially that forces him to quit studies, his growing existential crisis that nearly tears the small family apart, the tragic death of a friend, his getting back to studies, and so forth. He was so central to the film that, in a wryly humorous decision, it began with his detailed physical examination, and it ended with a potentially life-altering prognosis by a doctor that, ironically, might just help him to lead his life more freely than ever before. Zanussi, while telling the guy’s story – his journey in terms of emotional development, intellectual growth, increasing maturity, internal crises and coming to terms with himself – interspersed the narrative with interviews, real-life studies, tidbits and statistical information, philosophical ruminations, etc., that imbued it with documentary realism, cerebral tone, socio-political consciousness and distinctive formalism. Through the protagonist’s story, the director attempted at diving into the innate crises and struggles that lead to identification and understanding of oneself.

Director: Krzysztof Zanussi
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Marriage Drama/Experimental
Language: Polish
Country: Poland


Sam Juliano said...

Brilliant piece on a film by a director I really love. As an earlier feature, I never caught up with it but am determined to see it. Your examination of the themes here is most impressive!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam. This was a cerebral & formally adventurous film, but if one is willing to invest emotionally, a deeply personal story emerged. I'd be interested to know your views once you've watched it.