Film reviews and more

Kinoteka 2015: ‘The Promised Land’ review

★★★★★ It has been sixty years since the release of Andrzej Wajda’s first film, Generation (1955), and in that time he has directed over fifty more. 1975’s The Promised Land, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘The Last Day of Summer’ review

★★★★☆ Novelist turned filmmaker Tadeusz Konwicki excelled at crafting an atmosphere of the otherworldly on the screen. Though 1965’s Jump may be more widely known and highly regarded, a similar milieu pervades The Last Day of Summer (1958), Konwici’s first […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Austeria’ review

★★★★☆ There’s a moment of cinematic perfection around forty minutes into Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s Austeria (1981). It’s an instant of the kind of visual poetry that enlivens the medium in the viewer’s mind and reminds us of the simple potency that […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Ashes and Diamonds’ review

★★★★★ In 1956 there was a seismic political shift in Poland known variously as the Polish Thaw or Polish October. The Stalinist period ended and the entire country went through a process of comparable liberalisation that naturally extended to the […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Night Train’ review

★★★★☆ For his sixth feature, renowned Polish director Jerzy Kawalerowicz decided to board the Night Train (1959), inspired by his frequent trips to woo actress Lucyna Winnicka. She would star in the resulting thriller which was to prove no mere […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Jump’ review

★★★☆☆ Surreality dons a cool sixties swagger in Polish novelist Tadeusz Konwicki’s intriguing and vaguely baffling Jump (1965). Abandoning the social realism with which many of his cinematic compatriots approached the medium in the aftermath of the war – and […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘The Saragossa Manuscript’ review

★★★★☆ There’s a conversation in Wojciech Jerzy Has’ hallucinatory picaresque epic, The Saragossa Manuscript (1965), in which a character utters the following words, “if I don’t understand but I can write it down, I approach poetry.” This could well be […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘The Hourglass Sanatorium’ review

★★★★★ Wojciech Jerzy Has took great relish in toying with narrative convention in the nestled labyrinthine pages of The Saragossa Manuscript (1965). He dispenses with it entirely in The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973), an oneiric odyssey through the cob-webbed recesses of […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Knights of the Teutonic Order’ review

★★★★☆ “Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever,” quoth Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero. The turning wheel of time on which the master orator predicated this assertion is one that is palpably […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Blind Chance’ review

★★★★☆ Traditional narrative tropes of chance and fate are employed to glean some insight into living in Communist era Poland in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Blind Chance (1987). Imagine Sliding Doors (1998) but rather than setting in motion very different romantic entanglements, […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘A Short Film About Killing’ review

★★★★★ “Since the days of Cain, no punishment has improved the world or deterred anyone from committing crimes.” A Short Film About Killing (1988) – Krzysztof Kieslowski’s expansion on the fifth chapter of his lauded Dekalog series – sets out […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Eroica’ review

★★★★☆ With the fires of the Second World War still smouldering European cinema rose from the embers across the continent. At one time such resurgence took place through the Polish Film School, a movement intended to make films that would […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Illumination’ review

★★★★★ The post-war years begat a period of enormous creativity across European cinema and Krzysztof Zanussi’s Illumination (1973) stands out as a prime example of the incredible Polish craft of the time. It’s a profound and cerebral ride through the […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Foreign Body’ review

★★☆☆☆ Krzysztof Zanussi position as Poland’s moral cinematic conscience is presumably the one he was playing up to for his latest film, Foreign Body (2014). Best known for films that betray her fierce intellect – a la Camouflage (1977) or […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘The Constant Factor’ review

★★★★☆ If all of life is a beautiful equation, then madness is re-running it over and over with the expectation of a different outcome. This is the cycle that young idealist Witold (Tadeusz Bradecki) finds himself entrenched in during The […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Camouflage’ review

★★★★☆ Krzysztof Zanussi is a filmmaker that has, for much of his career, been considered by many as the cinematic conscience of Poland. There is arguably no clearer demonstration of this than during a purple patch towards the end of […]

Kinoteka 2015: Read our preview

On Wednesday 8 April at 6pm, the BFI will host a screening of Krzysztof Zanussi’s dialectic satire Camouflage (1977) – followed by a Q&A with the great filmmaker – to launch this year’s Kinoteka Film Festival in London. For the […]