Polish Cinema on DVD

Discuss internationally-released DVDs and Blu-rays or other international DVD and Blu-ray-related topics.
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the dancing kid
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Polish Cinema on DVD

#1 Post by the dancing kid » Thu Jun 23, 2005 9:54 pm

Andrzej Zulawski's Possession is one of my all-time favorite films, although for some reason I still don't have the DVD even though it runs for only $10 or so. There's just something about horror films from the late seventies and early eighties that really works for me.

I agree with the comparison between this and Cronenberg's style, both in terms of the psycho-sexual stuff and the use of doubles for the two main characters. I think the doubling of the characters is more linked to the film's relationship to gothic horror conventions than to Depraved Dave or other filmmakers of the time, but that's still a fair comparison. There are actually a few other links between this and gothic horror literature, particularly in the spaces the characters inhabit throughout the film (which are also doubled) and the use of divine presence. Some of those ideas show up in De Palma's 'Carrie' too, which might be one of the reasons why it feels so similar to his style.

Anyone who is familar with Julia Kristeva's writings about abjection will have a field day with this movie. 'Blood for Dracula' is another one that fits the bill pretty well, but I think 'Possession' makes a particularly interesting alteration to the basic premise of abjection. Adjani's character is almost ecstatic in a few scenes that deal with this, which doesn't necessarily contradict the more common representations of that idea, but it does explore the sort of ego-mania of abjection that is normally left out of the equation. The weird Lovecraftian sex-beast she makes works along those lines as well.

There's also a really interesting use of film melodrama conventions in this, especially in the first half. The emotional hysteria of Adjani is an extreme exaggeration of the way character behaved in those films, and the problems that the couple experience could be pretty normal relationship issues in a different context, especially the way the child affects their relationship. I think the doubles for each character also represent their own desires from one another, which for one reason or another they are unable to communicate to each other.

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Anthony
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Andrzej Zulawski

#2 Post by Anthony » Fri Jun 24, 2005 6:02 pm

Possesion is a great film which I own on DVD. I love showing this film to people and hearing their reaction to it... which usually can be summed up in the phrase, "What the hell is going on here?" This is a very interesting/mysterious film which I love dearly. Thanks for the post!

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g30
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#3 Post by g30 » Sat Jun 25, 2005 12:17 pm

I bought Possession after reading an article on Andrzej Zulawski in Film Comment. I was blown away by the film. Has anyone seen any of his other films and if so can you please comment.

Thanks.

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Galen Young
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#4 Post by Galen Young » Fri Jul 01, 2005 1:26 am

My memory of a black and white photo of Isabelle Adjani embracing some bizarre slimy creature in an issue of Cinefantastique from the early '80's made me pick this up when I came across it by surprise one day. I'm so glad I never saw the butchered original American release! For me, it plays like a demented variation of Cronenberg's masterpiece The Brood, as done by maybe Kieslowski -- on acid. Strangely though, some of Jeremy Iron's mannerisms in Dead Ringers remind me of Sam Neill's in Possession. Zulawski's commentary track on the DVD is quite entertaining.

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duane hall
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#5 Post by duane hall » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:21 am

WOW. Just watched Possession and was blown away. This is one of the most immaculately warped films I've seen. In the first couple scenes I was a bit skeptical (noticing the melodramatic acting that Dancing Kid mentioned, but not yet sure what the movie was going for) but within minutes I was totally entranced. The full commitment and investment in the madness (by the entire creative team behind the movie, it seems) really holds it all together.

"Otherworldly sheen" also came to my mind during my viewing. But beyond the look... the camera movement, the rhythm, and movement within the shot... were all perfect. A couple of my favorite shots: Neill in the rocking chair; Adjani coming towards the camera to yell "Don't even try!" in the middle of the street with blood pouring out of her mouth...

I was giddy, a stupid grin on my face, to be treated to this mad, daring vision realized with impeccable style.

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kieslowski_67
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#6 Post by kieslowski_67 » Fri Aug 19, 2005 9:23 am

Galen Young wrote:My memory of a black and white photo of Isabelle Adjani embracing some bizarre slimy creature in an issue of Cinefantastique from the early '80's made me pick this up when I came across it by surprise one day.
Adjani is one of my favorite French actresses of all time. She is great in all the movies you guys listed. However, I feel that she gave her best performance in Jean Becker's "one deadly summer" (1984) for which she garnered her second Cesar award for best actress.

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Gordon
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#7 Post by Gordon » Sat Aug 20, 2005 2:25 pm

Possesion has been on my endless "To Buy" list for about 7 months now and I am dying to see it. This thread has stoked my interest, so I'll order it now. It is double-packed with Mario Bava's, Shock for only $7.99 from DVD Pacific, which is a real bargain.

I really like Sam Neill and mind-warping horrorshows, let's hope I ain't disappointed.

loplop
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#8 Post by loplop » Tue Mar 14, 2006 5:45 pm

Apart from the obvious; Kieslowski, Wajda, Kawalerowicz i suppose, does anyone have any suggestions for must-see Polish films ?
I loved one from 2001 entitled "Portret Podwojny" (Double Portrait) by Mariusz Front, which has a subtly beautiful ending which is firmly stuck in my mind.
The films of Jan Jacob Kolski i have seen have been very enjoyable too.

Any others, and anyone know of the availability on DVD of those i have mentioned ?

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tavernier
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#9 Post by tavernier » Tue Mar 14, 2006 8:35 pm

loplop wrote:Apart from the obvious; Kieslowski, Wajda, Kawalerowicz i suppose, does anyone have any suggestions for must-see Polish films ?
I loved one from 2001 entitled "Portret Podwojny" (Double Portrait) by Mariusz Front, which has a subtly beautiful ending which is firmly stuck in my mind.
The films of Jan Jacob Kolski i have seen have been very enjoyable too.

Any others, and anyone know of the availability on DVD of those i have mentioned ?
Anything by Munk is a must: Facets (urp) has released Bad Luck, Man on the Tracks and Eroica - not great discs, but at least the movies are available.

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#10 Post by batiar » Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:12 pm

Try anything by these directors. The corresponding DVDs have English subtitles. PL PAL means DVD released in Poland, PL NTSC means DVD released by a Polish company in the USA, that usually are inferior to PAL DVDs. The IMDB titles are used.

Roman Polanski ("Noz w wodzie" UK PAL, US Criterion NTSC, Collection od shorts UK PAL, US Criterion NTSC)
Andrzej Zulawski (only films made outside Poland are released on DVD)
Agnieszka Holland (only films made outside Poland are released on DVD)
Krzysztof Zanussi ("Zycie jako smiertelna choroba przenoszona droga plciowa/Suplement" PL PAL, "Persona non grata" PL PAL, "Iluminacja" PL PAL, "Dotkniecie reki" PL PAL - English audio track, "Rok spokojnego slonca" US NTSC)
Radoslaw Piwowarski ("Pociag do Hollywood" PL PAL, "Yesterday" PL PAL)
Wojciech Has ("Rekopis znaleziony w Saragossie" - US NTSC)
Jerzy Skolimowski ("Ferdydurke" PL PAL - English audio)
Dorota Kedzierzawska ("Jestem" PL PAL)
Jerzy Stuhr ("Historie milosne" PL NTSC, "Pogoda na jutro" PL PAL)
Krzysztof Krauze ("Moj Nikifor" PL PAL, "Dlug" PL PAL)

Jan Jakub Kolski ("Pornografia" PL PAL, "Szabla od komendanta" PL NTSC)

Pregi (The Welts) by Magdalena Piekorz is probaly the best new release and PL PAL DVD has English subs.

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Gordon
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#11 Post by Gordon » Fri Mar 17, 2006 9:40 pm

Andrzej Munk's extraordinary 1963 film, Passenger from British company Second Run will be available in May.

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kieslowski_67
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#12 Post by kieslowski_67 » Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:38 pm

Ryszard Bugajski's Przesluchanie (1982) features a brilliant lead performance by Krystyna Janda.

loplop
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#13 Post by loplop » Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:35 pm

Thank you all for those suggestions...i look forward to seeing The Passenger and The Interrogation (Przesluchanie) sometime soon.
Agnieszka Holland's Lonely Woman (Kobieta samotna, 1981) is excellent too, as is Devils, Devils(Diably, diably) by Dorota Kedzierzawska.

Anyone seen any of Lech Majewski's films ?

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#14 Post by loplop » Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:25 pm

Coming soon from Second Run...
Thought this a suitable place to post a link:

http://www.secondrundvd.com/comingsoon.php

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david hare
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#15 Post by david hare » Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:53 pm

Where on earth are the early Skolimowski's Bariera, Walkover and Rysopis?

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gubbelsj
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#16 Post by gubbelsj » Sun Apr 23, 2006 7:43 pm

Don't forget Walerian Borowczyk, who died only a few months ago. He had two distinct careers, one in animation and the other live action. His animation period, from the mid-1950s until the mid-1960s, is pretty hard to track down (a good friend back in NY had a video compilation he loaned me once, wished I had copied it...) but awesomely surreal and disturbing - Renaissance (1963) and the fifteen-minute Les Jeux des anges / Games of Angels are particularly notable.

When he switched to live action, Borowczyk kept all the surrealism and absurdity. Immoral Tales ('74) is just that, and really beautiful, too, available from Anchor Bay. The Story of Sin / Dzieje grzechu was especially popular in Poland when it was released, 1975. There's also a box set out there, just called the Walerian Borowczyk Collection, which carries three films - The Beast ('76), Goto, island Of Love ('67) much better than the title suggests, and Love Rites. I think Cult Epics put out the set.

Incidentally, by the 1980s, Borowczyk was churning out soft-core - Emmanuelle 5, all right! But his earlier works, especially the animation and first few live action pieces, are pretty great, very Bunuelian, and deserve to be tracked down.

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Lino
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#17 Post by Lino » Mon Apr 24, 2006 7:41 am

I think that Cult Epics is planning to release a compilation of early Boro shorts soon. At least that was what I read in an interview somewhere online.

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gubbelsj
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#18 Post by gubbelsj » Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:32 pm

Annie Mall wrote:I think that Cult Epics is planning to release a compilation of early Boro shorts soon. At least that was what I read in an interview somewhere online.
You're right! Many thanks for the heads-up.

Nico, from Cult Epics, writes:
"I have been working in the last 9 months with Walerian on a project entitled 7 FILMS BY WALERIAN BOROWCZYK, which is a retrospective of his award winning animation films, which will be released later on." They're also responsible for the aforementioned box, which will include LA BETE/THE BEAST, CEREMONIE D'AMOUR/LOVE RITES and GOTO, ISLE D'AMOUR/GOTO, ISLAND OF LOVE.


http://daily.greencine.com/archives/001618.html

loplop
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#19 Post by loplop » Mon Apr 24, 2006 5:14 pm

Great news about those Borowczyk early animations, i'd love to see those.
Of his live action movies, Goto i quite enjoyed (and still have on video), and parts of Immoral Tales are great. I certainly remember La Bete !, but can't say i'd want to see it again in a hurry !
In my opinion, one of the very great landmarks in animation has to be by another Pole, Zbigniew Rybczynski, better known simply as Zbig.

1980's "Tango" is an absolute masterpiece:

http://www.zbigvision.com/Tango.html

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#20 Post by yoshimori » Fri Jul 21, 2006 4:34 pm

If anyone has info on how to get a copy of Wajda's 1988 The Possessed (with Isabelle Huppert, Omar Shariff, et al) I'd appreciate your relaying it. I saw the film at the LA Film Fest 10+ years ago and the performances, the music, and Witold Adamek's images still haunt me!

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Gordon
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Krzysztof Zanussi DVD in Poland

#21 Post by Gordon » Sat Oct 28, 2006 5:30 pm

Krzysztof Zanussi made some of the best Polish films of the 70s and 80s, yet many of his films are unavailble on DVD with english subtitles. But today, I discovered that the following films are available in Poland with subs:

Iluminacja (1973)

(synopsis and review of film)
Napisy: niemieckie, angielskie, hiszpanskie, francuskie, polskie
Camouflage (1976)
Napisy: angielskie, francuskie, hiszpańskie, niemieckie
Unfortunately, The Structure of Crystal isn't available.

Also, Tadeusz Chmielewski films:

How I Unleashed World War II (1970)

(IMDb)

This is the full-length version, 227-minute version

The Faithful River (1987)

(IMDb)

Andrzej Wajda listings.

THIS PAGE helps you with registering, ordering and shipping. It's very straightforward:

GO HERE, create a login, click on the prices of each item to order, go to checkout, then it's the standard filling out procedure. I ordered Iluminacja and Camouflage and the grand total was $17.70 which is a bargain - or appears to be! I'll have to wait until I check out the quality. :wink:

Oh, well, there it is - make of it what you will.

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Krzysztof Zanussi

#22 Post by Telstar » Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:12 am

I can't find anything by searching this site for Kieslowski. Any idea if they have the documentary set by him?

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Gordon
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Krzysztof Zanussi

#23 Post by Gordon » Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:41 am

Though seldom used, the correct spelling is Krzysztof Kieślowski, with an accent on the first 's' of his surname. Here's the Listing of his films. No sign of the documentary set - is it OOP? The listing is very slim - where is Blind Chance and No End, for example?

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Krzysztof Zanussi

#24 Post by kekid » Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:31 pm

Decalog is listed as a 6 DVD set. This seems to be different from 10 DVD set released some time ago. Not clear if this has English subs.

alfons416
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#25 Post by alfons416 » Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:45 am

we are discussing the dekalog-boxset in another topic. it's the same as the 10 disc set. but with the two episodes on each doubllesided-dvd (DVD18), plus the bonus disc. so it's the same boxset and the movies have english subtitles but not the extras.

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