FROM THE CITY OF LODZ (1969) 17 min.Kieślowski’s graduation film, made under the artistic mentorship of Kazimierz Karabasz. The working title was The People of Łódź. This documentary,
FROM THE CITY OF LODZ (1969) 17 min.
Kieślowski’s graduation film, made under the artistic mentorship of Kazimierz Karabasz. The working title was The People of Łódź. This documentary, filled with interesting observations not to mention its fair share of humour, is a multifaceted portrait of Łódź, where Kieślowski studied at the film school from 1964 to 1969. Toilworn women, the textile workers of Łódź, appear on the screen, as do Sunday-afternoon strollers, Edward Ciuksza’s well-known mandolin orchestra, a folk fête, old apartment buildings and new, high-rise estates. Images of work, rest and boredom intertwine.
I WAS A SOLDIER (1970) 16 min.
A moving documentary, where a blind solider who lost his sight during the Second World War talks about his fate, about heroism and dreams, unfulfilled plans and hopes.
REFRAIN (1973) 10 min.
An ironic and sarcastic look at the work of a funeral home. Mindless bureaucracy holds human beings in its grasp even after death.
BRICKLAYER (1973) 17 min.
Against the background of an international Workers’ Day march on 1st May, Józef Malesa, a bricklayer, former Polish United Workers’ Party activist and ‘hero of socialist labour’ recalls his past. Promoted to office work after the events of October 1956, but disillusioned with the current situation, he is returning to construction work and talks about his reasons for resigning from his activities within the party. The documentary was shelved by the censors; it received its premiere in 1981.
HOSPITAL (1976) 20 min.
An extraordinary filmed account of a round-the-clock shift in the trauma surgery department of the hospital on Barska Street in Warsaw. On the one hand, there are the patients waiting for assistance and, on the other, there are the medical personnel struggling with many and varied problems. During one of the operations, a surgical hammer breaks in the surgeon’s hand… and the camera records it happening. It also looks into the doctors’ offices and the support facilities. The hospital lacks wound dressings, specialist equipment and any number of surgical instruments. The surgeons are exhausted and their earnings are paltry, but they carry out their work with dedication. Kieslowski shows the realities of hospital life in the nineteen seventies just as it was, with no retouching.
FROM A NIGHT PORTER’S POINT OF VIEW (1977) 16 min.
A portrait of a factory watchman, a fanatic about discipline and penalising transgressions, a man who enjoys harassing other people both at work and elsewhere. He appears as a symbol of the attitude of some of the die-hard devotees of the system at the time; he may not arouse loathing, but his totalitarian inclinations are disturbing. Critics discerned numerous political allusions and subtexts in the film. In 2006, Austrian director Andreas von Horvath made a film showing the central figure’s subsequent lot in life. Now retired, his views remained unchanged and he recalled communist Poland with fondness.
SEVEN WOMAN OF DIFFERENT AGES (1978) 15 min.
More than a dozen scenes showing seven classical ballet dancers ranging from the most youthful of ages to the oldest. The episodes, filmed in class and at work, form a poignant picture of time’s passing. One of the central figures is Ewa Wycichowska, who went on to become a primaballerina, choreographer and director of the Polish Dance Theatre in Poznań.
TALKING HEADS (1980) 14 min.
A documentary-cum-survey made in 1979. Forty-four selected Poles, representing various professions and ranging in age from seven to a hundred years old, answer three questions… When were you born? Who are you? What do you want (in life)? The result of the survey was a synthesised, though not necessarily representative, picture of the state of consciousness in Polish society less than two years before the events of August 1980 and the birth of the Solidarity trade union. In expressing their thoughts, the people are connected, for instance, by a longing for social change leading to greater justice, freedom, democracy and tolerance, as well as by a moral opposition to the institutions of ‘backscratching’ and ‘friends in high places’. Kieslowski provides material for reflection on what worries and vexes people in the reality around them and on how human desires change with age and life experience. In 2004, Krzysztof Wierzbicki asked the same three questions in Talking Heads 2.