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Blu-ray Review

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Andrzej Żulawski: Three Films


Starring: Małgorzata Braunek, Leszek Teleszyński, Andrzej Seweryn and Jerzy Trela
Distributor: Masters of Cinema / Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £51.99


Certificate: 18
Release Date: 28 August 2023

Eureka! Entertainment releases – as part of its Masters of Cinema series – Andrzej Żulawski: Three Films, as a Limited Edition (new restoration from 4K scans) Blu-ray Box Set, making its UK debut. Żulawski was a ground-breaking Polish filmmaker – described as a maverick – who died in 2016. The three fantasy/horror films presented here are: The Third Part of the Night (1971), The Devil (1972), and On the Silver Globe (1988). This set is limited to 3,000 copies, and comes with Escape to the Silver Globe (2021) – the UK debut of the documentary on the production history of the film; a brand new documentary for the same film; two new interviews with film historian Michael Brooks on the first two movies; other interviews; a 2019 return to the film location for the third film; two new documentaries on the last film; and a limited edition 60-page collector’s book featuring essays, notes, and a production history.

In The Third Part of the Night, Michal (Leszek Telesynski) joins the resistance after his entire family is slaughtered during the Nazi-occupation of Poland, but he soon loses touch with reality and descends into madness when he meets a doppelganger of his murdered wife. The fantasy element is not immediately evident in this one; in fact it’s very dark and brutal, as you would expect this part of history to be. The protagonist rarely takes stock, flitting constantly from one setting to another and back again. There is a certain ambiguity as to what it is constitutes the madness. It’s a fine line with so much unrest happening on the streets as a matter of course. The trials with the lice for vaccinations had me scratching for twenty minutes after the film’s end credits.

Set in the 17th century, The Devil is a story of Satanic seduction during the Prussian invasion of Poland. The film proved to be so controversial upon its release that it was banned for 16 years. This is a tale of demonic seduction set during the Prussian invasion of Poland in the 1600s. Again, this has its violent moments, and scenes of desperation and madness. The monk-like figure who is the protagonist’s unwanted constant companion (i.e. he keeps turning up like a bad penny!) turns out to be something other than demon he seems to represent. What he does at the film’s conclusion perhaps marks him as the ultimate human devil.

On the Silver Globe is considered to be Żulawski’s masterpiece. Astronauts visit a barren planet and begin a new society. This was filmed at a Polish salt mine. The Polish government ordered the production to be shut down and the negatives destroyed when only 80 percent complete. However, the original film reels were preserved, later to be presented at the Cannes Film Festival to a responsive reception. The first half of this film is the most entertaining and thought-provoking. Two survivors of a crashed ship unwillingly propagate a new species, the interbreeding of which creates a conflicted and barbaric race. The last long-lived survivor of the craft becomes a guru to the offspring people and then, ultimately, an annoyance to be removed. This is all very intriguing; however, the movie long outstays its welcome.

The most watchable of these films for me is The Devil, which incorporates many parables and a plethora or emotions, extremism and forms of madness among them. I just don’t appreciate the depth of the first film, and Silver Globe is too drawn out to the extent you lose interest as a viewer. So, not really for me. However, those fans of Andrzej Żulawski will appreciate the work that has been done to bring these films back to life.


Ty Power

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