Szulkin 3 - too bad

Szulkin made six feature films.  The first four are free on ninateka.pl till the end of September (without English subtitles).  To me the best of this series of semi futuristic metaphors is “Obi-oba, the end of civilisation” (koniec cywilizacji). 

Some of its images are hard to forget.  For example a crazed, starved crowd fights over the food, a pulp from shredded books and the bible, dispensed from large overhead tube. 

The second in the series “The ward of the worlds: next century” got the main prize at a film festival where Sam Peckinpah headed the jury.   Szulkin recalls that during the festival Peckinpah stopped him on the street and asked “Are you Szulkin?” When Szulkin confirmed, Peckinpah responded “too bad”.  This exchange got some questioning in the book long interview with Szulkin, where its gist was - if I remember - that perhaps Peckinpah saw something in Szulkin that immediately telegraphed to him that Szulkin’s brilliance would for some reason not translate into a global success.  And it did not.  Very sad.


Szulkin. 2.

Rhythm and that which is beyond the screen. 

As a student Szulkin made a short “Everything”, which already shows enormous talent.  Reading about it and watching it reveals a huge gap between writing about film and the film itself.  Most of the descriptions of this short are uninviting and bland.   It is as if writers were helpless facing the medium that at its best (and that’s the case with Szulkin) can’t be reduced to or even justly described by words.

Since the concept is based on rhythm and non-vulgar metaphors it is very difficult if not impossible to describe the essence of those short seven minutes (unless a reviewer were a poet and wrote a poem, but that does not happen in film criticism). 

On screen much effort has been made to open the space that the film is portraying.  It is the space that transcends the images, the emotional and mental (and social) sphere that the rhythmic visual and auditory structure points to.  And that space, although easier to name is still more than a few sentences that could possibly describe it. (I am not even trying)


Another Szulkin’s short, “Working Women” is based on a smilier rhythm, space expansion, this time more directly hitting the social.    It is devastating in its diagnosis.   The communists hated it.


Szukin’s most abstract short of the three mentioned here is called “Copyright film polski”.  It is another exercise in opening the perception space, if I may risk a term.  Here Szulkin works with   juxtaposition of sequences, sound and images, fabric of images and rhythm again.  This time his social observation hides behind an existential, abstract dimension.   It is a very short piece, almost a joke,  yet very disturbing.