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Polish Films in Jazz Score

Roman Polanski,
Knife in the Water
photo courtesy of Polish
National Film Archive

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 6:00 PM
Thursday, May 22, 2008, 8:30 PM


Knife in the Water (Noz w wodzie). 1962. Poland. Directed by Roman Polanski. Screenplay by Roman Polanski, Jerzy Skolimowski, Jakub Goldberg. Music by Krzysztof Komeda. With Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, Zygmunt Malanowicz.
(94 min.)

A young hitchhiker accompanies a successful, cocky sportswriter and his beautiful wife on a weekend sailing trip, provoking asadistic contest between the two men for her affection. Having all the hallmarks of his best work – suspense, eroticism, psychological acuity, and morbid wit - Polanski’s breakthrough feature was condemned by Communist Party secretary Wladyslaw Gomulka for its degenerate “Western” values, even as it captivated critics and audiences worldwide, earning an Oscar nomination and the cover of Time magazine. Komeda’s spare melodies for jazz quartet add to the film’s menacing, sensuous atmosphere. In Polish, English subtitles.

The Fat and the Lean (Le Gros et le maigre, Gruby i chudy). 1961. France. Written and directed by Roman Polanski. Music by Krzysztof Komeda. With Polanski, André Katzelbach. (15 min.)

An absurdist tale of master and slave that mixes comedy, cruelty, and a motley array of musical sounds.

Miroslaw Kijowicz, Banner (1965),
photo courtesy of Polish National Film Archive

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 8:30 PM
Thursday, May 22, 2008, 6:15 PM


Le Départ. 1967. Belgium. Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski. Screenplay by Skolimowski, Andrzej Kostenko. Music by Krzysztof Komeda. With Jean-Pierre Léaud, Catherine Duport. (97 min.)

Skolimowski’s exuberant New Wave film, shot at breakneck speed in Belgium with an appropriately punchy score by Polish compatriot Komeda, reunites the two stars of Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin Féminin. Léaud plays a bored and restless hairdresser’s apprentice who is fanatically obsessed with racing cars, and Duport the beautiful woman who sexually awakens him.
An unmistakably Polish surrealist wit pervades the young lovers’ escapades. Winner of the top
prize at the Berlin Film Festival. In French, English subtitles.

Banner (Sztandar). 1965. Poland. Directed by Miroslaw Kijowicz. (7 min.)

One of Polish animation’s most politically subversive films, with music by Krzysztof Komeda.

Friday, August 1, 2008, 6:00 PM
Sunday, August 3, 2008, 2:30 PM


Repulsion (Wstret). 1965. Great Britain. Directed by Roman Polanski. Screenplay by Roman Polanski, Gerard Brach. Music by Chico Hamilton. With Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser, Patrick Wymark, Yvonne Furneaux, Roman Polanski.
(105 min.)

For his first British film, Polanski sidestepped the pitfalls of Swinging London's self-promoting mythology to focus on the loneliness that can afflict anyone new to the city or unable to cope with its peculiar demands. Deneuve plays the shy young Belgian girl who, left alone by her sister in their Kensington flat, retreats into a terrifying world of fantasies and nightmares which find murderous physical expression when she is visited by a would-be boyfriend and her leering landlord. Repulsion was compared to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, and the carefully dosed suspense and claustrophobic scenery contributed to its success. Deneuve charts a woman's agonizing psychic disintegration in this masterpiece of psychological horror. Anticipating Rosemary's Baby, Polanski's film evokes her sexual repression, torment, and isolation through outwardly expressionistic signs, including claustrophobic corridors and putrefying animal carcasses, and magnified and distorted sounds. Hamilton, who studied drums with Jo Jones and toured with Count Basie, creates an aptly chilling score of jittery percussion, electric guitar, and flute. In English.

Zbigniew Rybczynskim,
photo courtesy of Zbig Vision

Thursday, August 7, 2008, 8:15 PM
Saturday, August 9, 2008, 6:00 PM


Plamuz. 1973. Poland. Directed by Zbigniew Rybczynski. Music by Zbigniew Namyslowski.A journey to the outer limits of music and space by the Academy Award-winning media pioneer Rybczynski. (10 min.)

“Plamuz animates a cool jazz ensemble’s jam session, splitting the screen into pulsing shards of color that dance to different instruments from one moment to the next” (New York Times, April 13, 2008).