Friday, June 13, 2014

Innocent Sorcerers (orig. Niewinni czarodzieje) [1960]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (4+ Stars)

IMDb listing
Filmweb.PL listing* article

Official Website of Polish director Andrzej Wajda article on the directing career of Andrzej Wajda
Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema: [MSP Website] []

Innocent Sorcerers (orig. Niewinni czarodzieje) [1960] (directed by Andrzej Wajda [IMDb] []* [] [en.wikip]] [pl.wikip]*, screenplay by Jerzy Skolimowski [IMDb] []* and Jerzy Andrzejewski [IMDb] []*) is a simply OUTSTANDING ROMANTIC COMEDY OF ITS TIME (early 1960s).  The film played recently at Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center as part of the Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema.

I do believe that continues the film's director Wajda's[IMDb] []* thematic, IMHO already present, if perhaps less openly, in his far more famous work of a few years previous Ashes and Diamonds (orig. Popioł i Diament) [1958] (reviewed here earlier).  That is, Wajda [IMDb] []* was giving permission young Poles of his time (after all that THEY and THEIR NATION had gone through in the years / decades previous) to just "be silly," "flirt a little," "fall in love."  And while THIS "OKAY" being given by Wajda in his film to the young Poles of his time MAY SEEM UTTERLY TRIVIAL to an American / Western (or even Polish...) viewer of today, Wajda's[IMDb] []* little film did apparently cause him trouble with the Communist censors of his time (he apparently had to change the film's ending to make it "more serious", perhaps less famously "petite bourgeoisie").

BUT TO BE FAIR, this film would have had objections coming from more religious based censors (read Catholic, read the Hollywood Production code) of the time as well.  Indeed, American viewers will _certainly_ note the "Production Code Era" feel of the film ... So, employing the universally successful censor bending strategy of  "Do you really want to object to a film about young people who actually are shown toeing all the 'powers that be' / censor imposed lines and still find a way to be happy?  That is to say, do you really want to be against people finding a way to be happy in our system and in our land?" -- with apparently a few tweaks, the film got made ;-).

So what is this subversive little film about?  Two Polish young people -- Bazili (played by Tadeusz Łomnicki [IMDb] []*) a young, easy on the eyes Warsaw medical doctor with his own place, and smart, ever smiling, eye-lash batting Pelagia (played magnificently by Krystyna Stypułkowska [IMDb] []*), a country girl with a big heart (but also nobody's fool) from a village at the outskirts of town -- finding a way to spend the night together in Warsaw circa 1960 ;-).

They're brought together at a club one night by Bazili's friend (Americans would recognize his role here as "wing man") named Edmund (played wonderfully by the famous actor Zbigniew Cybulski [IMDb] []*) even if Bazili wasn't particularly interested initially as he was somewhat down on women at the time as a result of an ex-flame named Mirka (played by Wanda Koczeska [IMDb] []*) who'd turned into kind of a stalker.  And truth be told, Pelagia comes to the club "with another" as well.  Yet Edmund pulls it off and at the end of the evening there's Bazili and Pelagia alone together in Warsaw, Pelagia having missed the last train back to her town for the evening... 

Again, this is a movie of the early 1960s, so that which ensues is all very, very _innocent_ ... and yet, is it also so very, very charming!  Hence the lovely name for the film ... and honestly WHAT A GREAT STORY!

 This film is currently available _without English subtitles_ on YouTube by the Polish studio KADR (the studio that made the original film).  It's also available for purchase at a reasonable price on

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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