Wa­le­rian Borowczyk’s Ob­scure Plea­sures and Other Pol­ish films

BOMB Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Peter Dudek

Over the past two years I’ve been cap­ti­vated by the work of Pol­ish film­mak­ers. Re­cently I came upon two films by Wa­le­rian Borowczyk: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Os­bourne (1981) and The Story of Sin (1975). For Borowczyk, sex (not nec­es­sar­ily con­sen­sual), blood lust, de­ceit, and mur­der are the or­der of the day. Un­able to avoid what awaits them, his char­ac­ters hur­dle to­ward the in­evitable and ex­cru­ci­at­ing con­clu­sion: no happy end­ing is pos­si­ble.

The short list:

In Dark­ness (2011, Dir. Ag­nieszka Hol­land): Based on a true story, a Pol­ish sewer worker saves a group of Jews dur­ing the war by hid­ing them in the sewer sys­tem for four­teen months. Happy end­ing? Yes, that is, un­til the clos­ing cred­its re­veal that he was run over by a truck and killed shortly af­ter sav­ing the Jews.

The Hour­glass Sana­to­rium (1973, Dir. Wo­j­ciech Has): A deliri­ous, trippy, Through the Look­ing Glass, nev­erend­ing tale based on the writ­ings of Bruno Schulz. It’s im­pos­si­ble to tell what’s real and what’s not. A movie Ed Kien­holz could love.

Blind Chance (1987, Dir. Krzysztof Kies´ lowski): A film in three parts, each based on whether a young man catches a train on time. He of­ten doesn’t and is thus pulled into the pol­i­tics of the day. No happy end­ing re­quired.

Cam­ou­flage (1977, Dir. Krzysztof Zanussi): A mind­fuck of a film about academia that could also be used as a ral­ly­ing cry against ten­ure.

Ida (2013, Dir. Pawel Paw­likowski): It’s the 1960s. Ida is an or­phan be­ing raised in a con­vent. On the verge of be­com­ing a nun she dis­cov­ers that she is Jewish. It gets com­pli­cated. Beau­ti­fully shot in black and white. A bum­mer of a movie; it was great.

Pa­pusza (2013, Dir. Joanna Kos and Krzysztof Krauze): another black- and-white beauty/ bum­mer of a film. This one is based on a true story about Bro­nis­lawa Wajs, the Roma poet known as Pa­pusza. Most of the ac­tors are gyp­sies. It daz­zles, while leav­ing you feel­ing very sad, of course. But if I ever have a daugh­ter I’ll name her Pa­pusza.

A recipe for Pol­ish mush­room soup:

In­gre­di­ents 1 4 l dried ild mush­rooms 9 cups eef stoc 1 cup but­ter, 1 cup finely chopped onion, 1 ta­ble­spoon corn­starch, salt and white pep­per, sour cream, chopped fresh pars­ley

Di­rec­tions Soak mush­rooms in warm wa­ter for 3 hours. Drain the mush­rooms, pre­serv­ing the liq­uid; strain the liq­uid through a fine cloth. Rinse mush­rooms in cold wa­ter, then slice into strips.

In a 3- quart saucepan, bring mush­rooms to a boil with 8 cups of the beef stock and the soak­ing liq­uid, re­duce heat and sim­mer over low heat 3– 4 hours. Melt but­ter in a heavy skil­let and sauté the onion un­til golden brown, then add to the soup. Whisk the corn­starch with the re­main­ing cup of beef stock, add to the soup, stir and sim­mer un­til slightly thick­ened. Sea­son to taste with salt and pep­per, la­dle into in­di­vid­ual bowls, top each with 1 ta­ble­spoon sour cream and sprin­kle with pars­ley. Smacznego!

— Peter Dudek is an artist based in Brook­lyn. He fre­quently writes about art and pe­ri­od­i­cally cu­rates ex­hi­bi­tions. Up­com­ing projects in­clude a solo work at LAB­space (lab­spaceart.blogspot.com).

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