DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
HANDS UP! (RECE DO GORY) (director/writer: Jerzy Skolimowski; screenwriter: Andrzej Kostenko; cinematographers: Andrzej Kostenko/Witold Sobocinski; editor: Grazyna Jasinska; music: Józef Skrzek; cast: Jerzy Skolimowski (Andrzej Leszcyzc), Joanna Szczerbic (Alfa), Tadeusz Lomnicki (Opel Record), Adam Hanuszkiewicz (Romeo), Bogumil Kobiela (Wartburg); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; Film Polski-in PAL; 1981-Poland/France-in Polish with English subtitles)

 
"Though thought provoking and raising worthy questions about the role of art in world affairs, viewing it at this late date didn't arouse much excitement for me."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski ("Identification Marks: None"/"Rysopis"/"Bariera") filmed this surreal experimental film in 1967, but it wasn't released until 14 years later by the censors. As a result, Skolimowski went to live and work in other countries. Soon after the film's release in 1981, Poland was under martial law due to the Solidarity uprising.

It opens to a number of surreal sketches: an artist being removed from a deep freeze; Skolimowski playing ping-pong with himself; the filmmaker working as an actor in the German film Circle of Deceit (1981) by Schlöndorff, which leads to a discussion about forgery and questions cinema as unblemished art; shots of a bombed-out Beirut ravaged by war (where the German film was being shot), a visit to a London art gallery, where Alan Bates and Jane Asher unveil political murals in support of those seeking freedom; and newsreel-like shots of London protestors holding up signs that say "Hands Off Polish Workers."

Skolimowski acts as one of five giddy doctors attending a medical school reunion and who somehow wind-up in a sealed-up railway carriage. They participate in a ritualized death re-enactment, mocking Stalin. While still in their tuxedos, the alums are caked with dust, playful, pretending to take speed and go talky philosophizing over their disenchantment with the Stalinist brand of communism and its ill-effects for them personally and for the country.

The main part of the film was completed in 1967. It was shot mostly in sepia, and to make it appear like it was filmed in an experimental theatre there's spaces filled with many flickering lit candles. In 1981, Skolimowski returned to Poland to shoot new footage that was used in the prologue of the re-released film.

Though thought provoking and raising worthy questions about the role of art in world affairs, viewing it at this late date didn't arouse much excitement for me.

REVIEWED ON 3/31/2011       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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