Thursday, September 20, 2018

Zimna wojna / Cold War

Cold War / Cold War.
    PL/FR/GB © 2018 Opus Film Sp. z o.o. / Apocalypso Pictures Cold War Limited / MK Productions / ARTE France Cinéma / The British Film Institute / Channel Four Television Corporation / Canal+ / EC1 Łódź / Mazowiecki Instytut Kultury / Instytucja Filmowa Silesia Film / Kino Świat / Wojewódzki Dom Kultury w Rzeszowie.
    P: Tanya Seghatchian, Ewa Puszczyńska.
    D: Paweł Pawlikowski (story, direction, image). SC: Paweł Pawlikowski and Janusz Głowacki with the collaboration of Piotr Borkowski. DP: Łukasz Żal – b&w – 1,37:1 – camera: Arri Alexa XT – source format: ARRIRAW 3,4 K – master format: digital intermediate 4K. PD: Katarzyna Sobańska, Marcel Sławiński. Cost: Aleksandra Staszko. Hair and make-up: Waldemar Pokromski.
    Jazz and song arrangements: Marcin Masecki. The Jazz Quintet: Piano Marcin Masecki, Saxophonist Luis Nubiola, Double-bass player Piotr Domagalski, Trumpeter Maurycy Idzikowski, Drummer Jerzy Rogiewicz. Under the direction of Marcin Masecki. Soundtrack listing: see previous post (Zimna wojna / Cold War pressbook).
    S: Maciej Pawłowski, Mirosław Makowski. ED: Jarosław Kamiński. Casting: Magdalena Szwarcbart.
Zula / Joanna Kulig
Wiktor / Tomasz Kot
Kaczmarek / Borys Szyc
Irena / Agata Kulesza
Michel / Cèdric Kahn
Juliette / Jeanne Balibar
Consul / Adam Woronowicz
Minister / Adam Ferency
Sleuth 1 / Drazen Sivak
Sleuth 2 / Slavko Sobin
Waitress / Aloïse Sauvage
Guard / Adam Szyszkowski
Ania / Anna Zagórska
Leader of ZMP / Tomasz Markiewicz
Mazurek / Izabela Andrzejak
     89 min
    Premiere in Poland: 8 June 2018.
    Finnish premiere projected: 26 Oct 2018. Released by Finnkino, digital cinema, Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Jaana Wiik / Nina Ekholm.
    Helsinki International Film Festival gala opening, introduced by Anna Möttölä and Pekka Lanerva.
    Viewed at Bio Rex, 20 Sep 2018.

Synopsis from the pressbook: "Cold War is a passionate love story between a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of post-war Poland. With different backgrounds and temperaments, they are fatally mismatched and yet fatefully condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, the couple are separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate – an impossible love story in impossible times."

AA: In his masterpiece Ida Pawel Pawlikowski gave us an account of Poland in the early 1960s, a time of his early childhood. Ida was a tragic story of two women who must come to terms with the twin catastrophes of the holocaust and Stalin's terror.

In Zimna wojna / Cold War the story expands to a longer period of time: 15 years, from 1949 till 1964. Dedicated by the director to his own parents, this is a tragic love story. A tale of a love affair crushed by a brutal government. But also made impossible by the fundamental incompatibility of the lovers. They cannot live without each other. They cannot live with each other.

Zimna wojna / Cold War is chronological, but otherwise it breaks dramatic unities. Cold War must have been a difficult equation for Pawlikowski to solve, but it works like a dream.

Pawlikowski denied having been particularly influenced by Polish New Wave films of the late 1950s and the early 1960s when we made a tribute to him to honour the accomplishment of Ida. There are dozens of distinguished films in the Polish New Wave, many of them waiting re-discovery for the international audiences of today.

The achievement of Ida and Cold War is even more astonishing if Pawlikowski has indeed not been particularly influenced by the Polish New Wave. It must have been in his cultural genes to create this combination of psychological complexity, awareness of a national disaster, affinity to the freedom of jazz, and a penchant for a mise-en-scène opportune to all that. Perhaps the fresh and original approach of his Polish stories is due to his having independently come to solutions that seem to connect with the best traditions of Polish cinema.

The lovers Zula and Wiktor are played by Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot with a sensitive and unpredictable authenticity.

Pawlikowski: ‘Well, this type of relationship that is a bit of a war all the time. Two strong, restless individuals, very unlike each other, two extreme poles. Zula and Wiktor have other lovers, relationships, husbands and wives, but they realise with time that nobody will ever be as close to them as each other, because – for all the historical and geographical comings and goings – nobody knows who they are as well as each other. At the same time, paradoxically, they are the one person they can’t be with.

Zimna wojna / Cold War is also a story about exile. Wiktor cannot stay in Stalin's Poland, but in exile he loses something of his manhood, even in the most concrete way, as observed by Zula. The film critic Matti Rämö sitting next to me remarked that this theme was also discussed by Krzysztof Kieslowski in Three Colours: White.

Wiktor returns to Poland and a long prison service in hard labour. There his arm is injured, making him unable to continue as a pianist ever. It is Thaw, but the change is left unobserved in the movie. Reunited for a brief moment, Zula and Wiktor find a way to join in eternity.

Zimna wojna / Cold War is also a rich film about music, particularly rewarding about Polish folk music and jazz. Pawlikowski intertwines his many musical motifs in multiple ways. Bach and jazz were present in Ida, and so they are also here.

Marcin Masecki is the talented arranger of the jazz and song contributions. It all makes sense. The affection to the folk music is genuine.

An element of ambiguity is introduced by "Kak mnogo devushek horoshih (Serdtse)" from the Alexandrov-Dunayevsky musical Jolly Fellows, a Stalinist comedy with a sense of the absurd. A song belonging to the repertory of both Pussy Riot and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. An aspect of satire intrudes with the Stalin cantata by Alexandrov and the horror film theme conducted by Wiktor in a French film studio.

Fine jazz is heard in Marcin Masecki's piano solos and in the playing of his jazz quintet. Masecki also plays Chopin's Fantaisie impromptu in C sharp minor. Classic jazz from Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Coleman Hawkins is incorporated in the soundtrack. During the end credit dedication to the director's parents we hear Glenn Gould at the Goldberg variations.

The cinematography of Łukasz Żal is brilliant in composition and lighting. The black and white Academy frame does not feel studied. The eerie element is the decision to use digital cinematography in this fashion. Yesterday I saw BlacKkKlansman in which the digital projection retained a juicy and vibrant sense of life. In Zimna wojna / Cold War the airless and lifeless lack of atmosphere connected with a trailer we saw before the feature: Damien Chazelle's First Man and its views of the Moon. This feeling is certainly relevant to the title and the theme of the film.

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