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Andrzej Munk at the National Gallery of Art

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  • IrenaMi@aol.com
    http://www.nga.gov/programs/flmmunk.htm Film Series: Andrzej Munk at the National Gallery of Art August 17, 18, 24, 25 Men of the Blue Cross Man on the Tracks
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 10, 2002
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      Film Series: Andrzej Munk at the National Gallery of Art

      August 17, 18, 24, 25
      Men of the Blue Cross
      Man on the Tracks
      Bad Luck

      Andrzej Munk (1921-1961) was a member of an elite group of 1950s-era
      filmmakers--among them Andrzej Wajda, Wojciech Has, and Jerzy
      Kawalerowicz--known as the Polish School, the first Eastern-bloc filmmakers
      to address with clear-eyed candor World War II and totalitarian rule. But
      unlike the others in the group, Munk was still in his prime when he died in
      a tragic accident in 1961 just short of his fortieth birthday, leaving the
      world to wonder how much of his filmmaking potential was left untapped. His
      first films were shorts and documentaries with overtones of the official
      state ideology. Working under the watchful eye of the Stalinist-era
      authorities, he soon learned how to neutralize that official line,
      constructing darkly sardonic images of daily life that questioned the system.
      Munk's oeuvre, which received much critical attention before his death, has
      since been eclipsed by the work of his more prolific compatriots, especially
      Wajda. Now, nearly a half century later, Munk's films are being rediscovered
      and reevaluated. "Andrzej Munk, my mentor at the Polish National Film School
      in Lodz, inspired me in my youth and gave me the chance to direct my first
      feature; I will be forever grateful."--Roman Polanski.
      - ------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Men of the Blue Cross
      August 17 at 2:00 p.m.
      In 1945 a group of Polish mountaineers, the Blue Cross, accomplished the
      impossible: from an underground hospital in still-occupied Slovakia, they
      brought sick and wounded partisans through German lines and across mountain
      ranges to Zakopane, a Polish mountain resort. "A decade later, Munk recreated
      their adventures with a verisimilitude far beyond the usual
      demands of socialist realism: not only did he and his crew film in the same
      harsh, snowbound locations, he also cast several of the members of the Blue
      Cross as themselves. Lengthy, wordless sequences of the partisans skiing down
      vast slopes lend a strange serenity, while close-ups of proud, unbowed faces
      function as both social-realist gimmick and extratextual retort to
      their old enemy, taking over as they do a mountain-film genre the Germans
      themselves had invented."--Jason Sanders (1955, subtitled, 60 minutes)
      Man on the Tracks
      "Munk further refines the documentary/fiction hybridization with this
      Rashomon-like tale of the death of a railwayman, told in a
      difficult-to-forget merging of socialist realism and film noir. An elderly
      railway engineer is killed by a speeding train: the authorities investigate
      the accident, but each witness who testifies offers a different version of
      what happened. The deep-focus black-and-white cinematography owes more to the
      realm of film noir than socialist realism, as does the film's undercurrent of
      paranoia and fear in the face of a destiny far beyond one man's
      control."--Jason Sanders (1956, subtitled, 89 minutes)

      August 18 at 4:00 p.m.
      One of the key European films of the 1950s, its title obviously borrowed from
      Beethoven's Third Symphony, consists of two separate stories, each a
      meditation on contrasting notions of heroism during war. "Scherzo alla
      Polacca," set during the Warsaw uprising, centers on a small-time con artist
      who, thanks to fate and the circumstances of a troubled love life, ends up
      a reluctant hero. "Ostinato Lugubre" takes place in a German P.O.W. camp
      where Polish army prisoners keep morale up by believing that a legendary
      lieutenant has bravely escaped from their midst. With the critical success of
      Eroica, Munk received international acclaim. (1958, subtitled, 95 minutes)
      Preceded by A Visit to the Old City (1958), an impressionistic tour of the
      old town of Warsaw in the company of a precocious young girl.

      Bad Luck
      August 24 at 2:30 p.m.
      A simple man, baffled and battered by life and history, is unable to fit in
      and find a place for himself. "Jan just wants to conform, but his timing and
      his luck are eternally at odds; bullied by his father as a child and then by
      his classmates, he finally becomes an adult, only to wind up slapped around
      by varying political interests, pro-state policemen, resistance fighters,
      Nazis, radicals, and bureaucrats." For critic Boleslaw Michalek, Jan embodies
      "the provincial Polish would-be patriot: always defeated, always starting
      anew, and then turned upside down again." (1960, subtitled, 120 min)

      August 25 at 4:00 p.m.
      Munk died before completing Passenger; nevertheless, it is widely considered
      to be the pinnacle of his career. The film was pieced together according to
      Munk's screenplay by his colleagues, who used still photographs Munk had shot
      of unfinished scenes with such artistic skill that they create a powerful
      film statement. On an ocean cruise, a German concentration camp
      survivor finds a fellow passenger strangely familiar; soon, to her horror,
      she recognizes the woman as her camp guard. "The film's insights into the
      relationship of oppressor and oppressed are nothing short of stunning.
      Present and past are locked in their own psychic battle the past a flowing,
      evolving, widescreen narrative, the present a cold, still light." Judy Bloch
      (1963, subtitled, 60 minutes) Preceded by Last Pictures by Andrzej
      Brzozowski, a documentary about Munk.
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