EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|HOURGLASS SANATORIUM, THE (SANATORIUM POD KLEPSYDRA) (director/writer: Wojciech J. Has; screenwriter: based on the novel ''The Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass'' by Bruno Schultz; cinematographer: Witold Sobocinski; editor: Janina Niedzwiecka; music: Jerzy Maksymiuk; cast: Jan Nowicki (Jozef), Tadeusz Kondrat (Jakob - Józef's father), Irena Orska (Józef's mother), Mieczyslaw Voit (Blind Conductor), Gustow Holoubek (Dr. Gotard), Janina Sokolowska (Nurse), Halina Kowalska (Adela), B. Mierzejewski (wax Figure of Franz Josef), W. Nowak (Archduke Maximilian); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Polish Corporation for Film Production, Silesia Film Unit; Mr. Bongo Films-PAL- Region 2; 1973-Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)|
|"This mind fuck arthouse pic is not for the
casual filmgoer or those who demand a linear
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Polish director/writer Wojciech J. Has ("The
Saragossa Manuscript") bases this
head-spinning surreal road movie, one where Luis
Bunuel, Terry Gilliam
and Peter Greenaway would probably feel quite at home,
on a number of
the unfilmable short stories found in
''The Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass'' by
author Bruno Schulz. During Hitler's 1942 occupation
of Poland, the SS
army murdered Schulz.
It's set in an unnamed
Eastern European country in
pre-World War II. The plotless,
slow-paced and sleep-inducing pic consists of a
series of amazing
haunted images that are thrown together without any
sense of logic or
rhyme. They remain for the most part as a weird and
opening to the mind and psyche. This mind fuck
arthouse pic is not for
the casual filmgoer or those who demand a linear
a blind conductor (Mieczyslaw
corpse-like Hasidim and
ailing elderly shopkeeper father Jakob (Tadeusz Kondrat) in a remote country
sanatorium that is
half-abandoned and crumbling. With a straight face the
for Jakob tells Jozef
that he has managed to alter time to keep his father
alive, but his dad
is really dead.
From hereon the
pic drifts aimlessly from one odd setting to another.
It covers such
settings that reflect Jozef's
memories as a child dealing with
his nagging mom (Irena Orska),
his childhood girlfriends, running from colonial Haitian black mercenaries, avoiding
soldiers from the past, reviewing the
history lessons of his youth by mulling
over the wax figures of
Emperor Franz Joseph (B.
Mierzejewski) and the Archduke Maximilian (W.
Nowak), recalling his
sexual fantasies, playing back in his mind
parables, and showing concern about the increasing
hostile climate for
Jews in the Poland before Hitler's invasion. The
scene that takes the
cake for being the nuttiest, has Jozef crawl under a bed in
emerge from the other side into a crowded Polish
village where the Jews
dance and chant together and where Jozef's father is
and well. If that weren't enough of a show-stopper,
the residents are dressed as giant birds.
To grok this film, I believe each viewer must study on their own the film's disturbing personal, religious and historic content and grapple with all the unwieldy images that started making more sense to me only after a few viewings. In any case, you've been warned of what you're in for if you are one of the few who choose to see such a rarity in surreal filmmaking.
REVIEWED ON 2/26/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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