Masters Coppola and Scorsese, who dedicate much time and money to the worthy cause of film preservation, restored this 1960’s Polish film and brought it to the States, where I’m sure a sparkling, freshly-subtitled 35mm print enjoyed an acclaimed week at the Film Forum. Then these giants, pleased with their accomplishments, went off to watch Tales of Hoffmann at George Romero’s house, while some fly-by-night company bought the rights to a video release, made a middling transfer and issued an interlaced DVD.
Alphonse is so goofy and weak-looking, even next to the flamboyantly-feathered Uzeda. I assume from the actor’s Polish James Dean reputation that this was an unusual character for him.
Rebecca Uzeda: Beata Tyszkiewicz also played Edith Piaf’s mom in a 1983 Claude Lelouch movie
I’ve just finished reading the book by Jan Potocki. The movie wisely cuts out the last half of the book and skips to the final couple pages, missing the Wandering Jew and about a month’s worth of the gypsy chief’s stories within stories within stories. And since it is all stories within stories, composed mainly of meaningless sidetracks (Bunuel was a big fan, and I’d like to think he had this in mind while writing The Phantom of Liberty), I won’t go on forever with plot summary.
Alphonse being told his cousins are pregnant:
The first person Alphonse meets at the haunted inn:
The whole thing seemed to have a more comic, amused tone than the novel – noticable from the first framing story (the titular manuscript, being read together by enemies during wartime, in the midst of a battle). Zbigniew Cybulski (star of Ashes and Diamonds, killed by a train a couple years after this) is our hero Alphonse, constantly having his honor tested by ghosts and servants, heathens and temptresses. He teams up with cabalists Pedro and Rebecca Uzeda and mathematician Don Pedro Velasquez (Gustaw Holoubek, also of Wojciech Has films The Hour-Glass Sanatorium and A Boring Story), hooks up with his cousins Emina and Zibelda, meets Zoto and his hanged brothers, and spends not so much time with the gypsy chief (whose name I’ve forgotten at the moment).
Young Lopez Suarez and his outraged father:
Pasheko (Franciszek Pieczka) was my favorite actor:
Good looking movie, straightforwardly filmed without stylistic excess or ghostly effects. The rumbling electronic music sometimes does the movie a disservice. I’m sure the cinemascope-shot film looked a hundred times better in theaters than on my laptop – fingers crossed for another revival.
I’m guessing Alain Robbe-Grillet liked this shot:
A Zoto brother:
This story (stories) was remade as a miniseries a decade later in France – nobody seems to know much about that version (not in English, anyway). The only other Jan Potocki adaptation was by Raoul Ruiz in the 80’s. W. Has doesn’t immediately seem like a filmmaker I must seek out, but his Hour-Glass Sanatorium does sound good.