Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
A slyly absurdist comedy set against the petty machinations of academia, Camouflage is set in a provincial summer school camp in the throes of a competition. The shallowness and cynicism of this milieu becomes apparent through the relationship between a young linguistics professor, Jaroslaw, and his jaded senior colleague, Jakub. “All people are conformists just like you and I,” exclaims the latter, protesting against the liberal teaching approach of Jaroslaw. The vérité cinematography of Edward Kłosiński (Zentropa, The Promised Land) perfectly captures the verbal jousting between these formidable opponents, which is ratcheted up when the university’s rector pays a visit. Versed in philosophy and physics, renowned writer-director Krzysztof Zanussi injects wit and humor into his acerbic portrait of conformity. Although it was not intended as a political film, Camouflage was harshly received by the Polish government and placed on the year’s list of banned films. However, it did go on to become the country’s official Oscar® submission in the Foreign Language Film category.
1977, 101 minutes, color, DCP | Written and directed by Krzysztof Zanussi; with Piotr Garlicki, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, Christine Paul-Podlasky, Mariusz Dmochowski, Wojciech Alaborski.
Warmly received at the Cannes Festival, where it won two awards, Krzysztof Zanussi’s stirring drama portrays a naïve but well-meaning young electrician, Witold, as he faces the hard truths of his world. He dreams of ascending the Himalayas — a snowy vision Zanussi cuts to throughout, accented by Wojciech Kilar’s (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Pianist) mighty score — just as his father had done before him. His skill in mathematics earns him a job in an international trade company, which takes him everywhere from India to Austria. But he soon finds the position grating and is constantly thwarted by his own candidness. Confronting a death in his family and the petty corruptions of his colleagues, Witold soldiers onward in this powerful film. Its depiction of the struggle between chance and destiny reaches a shocking conclusion in its unforgettable final scene. “The chess-master precision of Zanussi’s narrative is closer, as film, to Bresson or Rohmer than it is to the passionate sprawls of Wajda or Kieślowski… every element in this spare, crystalline film is integrated into the whole.” — J. Hoberman.
1980, 91 minutes, color, DCP | Written and directed by Krzysztof Zanussi; with Tadeusz Bradecki, Zofia Mrozowska, Malgorzata Zajaczkowska, Cezary Morawski, Witold Pyrkosz, Ewa Lejczak, Jan Jurewicz.
Special guest Krzysztof Zanussi will also attend a screening of The Illumination (1972) at The Cinefamily on May 3 at 4:30 p.m.