Friday, February 19, 2016
Yesterday, Andrzej Zulawski, the director of my favorite film, died.
He wasn't the greatest director or even a very consistent one. I doubt he'll appear on the Oscar death montage. He was never much interested in entertaining or educating. Instead, he strived always to transcend: to get behind and beyond the limits of story, character, intellect, morality, sexuality and even the very medium itself. More than anything he brought intensity to cinema, to a degree that often drove his films into incoherence and himself into bout of madness.
His films include the monumental unfinished sci-fi epic On the Silver Globe, which got his expelled from communist Poland, bizarre but compelling adaptations of authors as diverse as Dostoevsky and Madame de La Fayette and a quartet of unrated/NC-17 films starring his wife Sophie Marceau (probably best known as the bond villain from The World Is Not Enough).
I've been a longtime fan, once checking out an English language libretto translation of the Russian opera Boris Godounov so I could follow along with a bootleg of his adaptation.
Possession (1981), the art-horror cult film most often atop my fluctuating top ten favorites, is his masterpiece. Back when the film was a rare collector's item, I found it at an old library on VHS and gathered together a group of like-minded friends for our first viewing. It left me dazed and overwhelmed. It was the moment I realized cinema would be a lifelong passion.
Almost a decade ago, I wrote a long and loving review.
Zulawski's obituary in the NYT.
His final film, Cosmos, an adaption of Witold Gombrowicz's novel, was finished just last year. I look forward to it.