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The Hourglass Sanatorium - Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema
Wojciech Jerzy Has’s surrealist The Hourglass Sanatorium is a visionary reflection on the nature of time and the irreversibility of death. A young man embarks on a journey to see his dying father and succumbs to a procession of hallucinatory encounters on the grounds of a mystical, dilapidated hospice. The film’s screenplay draws from more than 20 stories by Jewish author Bruno Schulz, one of the most renowned Polish prose stylists of the 20th century. The resulting film is a tour-de-force of atmospherics and otherworldly set design. Reading Schulz’s works through the prism of his death during World War II, Has adds reflections on the Holocaust. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, The Hourglass Sanatorium was described by England’s The Quietus magazine as “an adult Alice in Wonderland…an exploration of waking and dreaming, without the relief of an objective eye to distance the trip.”
1973, 125 minutes, color, DCP | Written by Wojciech Jerzy Has, based on stories by Bruno Schulz; directed by Wojciech Jerzy Has; with Jan Nowicki, Tadeusz Kondrat, Irena Orska, Halina Kowalska, Gustaw Holoubek, Mieczyslaw Voit, Bozena Adamek.
A virtuous, young priest is sent to a remote convent to investigate an outbreak of demonic possession — “a devil among the maidens”— that has left his predecessor burnt at the stake. A chamber drama worthy of Dreyer or Bergman, Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s spellbinding film traces the struggle between the calmly righteous exorcist and his slippery target, Mother Joan (Night Train’s Lucyna Winnicka), who claims to have eight demons raging within her. As the priest embarks on a struggle against the forces of darkness, he is faced with the choice of sacrificing his own purity and saving the convent from evil. This conflict is given a visual analogue in the elegant contrasts of black and white by cinematographer Jerzy Wójcik (Ashes and Diamonds). Drawing from the same 17th-century records that inspired Aldous Huxley’s book The Devils of Loudun and subsequently Ken Russell’s film The Devils, Mother Joan of the Angels is an ethereal study of faith, sin and redemption.
1961, 111 minutes, black and white, DCP | Written by Tadeusz Konwicki, Jerzy Kawalerowicz, based on the novel by Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz; directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz; with Lucyna Winnicka, Mieczyslaw Voit, Anna Ciepielewska, Maria Chwalibog, Kazimierz Fabisiak, Stanislaw Jasiukiewicz.