Szulkin. 1

"Obi-Oba.  The End of Civilization"  
by Piotr Szulkin

Almost genius.  A genius.

Earlier this month a remarkable film director passed away.  His name was Piotr Szulkin.   Or rather, his name is Piotr Szulkin.  Due to a combination of weird and often moronic (on my part) factors I wasn’t really familiar with his work.   He was only five years older and started studying at the Polish Film Schol five years before me.   Having spent the last week watching his films and reading his book long conversation with two film scholars (Zyciopis published by korporacja halart) I am floored by his film and intellectual vision. 

For starters: a few thoughts from the beginning of his conversation/book: “the screen doesn’t lie, it always exposes.  It exposes value or stupidity.”  At first I bucked at this with “well, does it make stupid some people who are smart and intelligent yet not talented in film whose work falls flat, clearly not?”  However, upon a bit of thinking one has to say that clearly yes, there are no excuses.   Screen is a powerful, dangerous and unforgiving medium.  Whoever touches it has to be aware of the dangers it imposes.   The same goes for any creativity.  Does the same goes for any other kind of human activity?

Szulkin states that will be talking mostly about that which moved him to create his films and about that which influenced him to give them their specific shape.  He calls it metaphorical but can’t remove it from anecdotal, which is a more vulgar, confined and yet sometimes necessary to explain things.   Because, as I understand this thought, the metaphorical can only reveal itself through facts and occurrences. 

Talking about his father, Szulkin uses a phrase “my father was a physicist, touching the threshold of a genius”.  Further comments reveal that Szulkin had an uneasy relationship with his father and that he wanted somehow to relate/debate/perhaps spare with him.  Strangely, this “touching the threshold of a genius” phrase could be applied to Piotr Szulkin as well. 

The word “touching”, or “hooking onto”, or “almost” is the key here.   Looking at Szulkin’s films I sense that he was indeed a cinematic genius and yet analyzing his career and the reception of his work it seems that there was something small yet vital missing in him, or around him that prevented him to enter the very top level of world cinema.