Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Last Day of Summer (orig. Ostatni Dzień Lata) [1958]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
Filmweb.PL listing* article article*

Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema: [MSP Website] []

The Last Day of Summer (orig. Ostatni Dzień Lata) [1958] [IMDb] []*[] [en.wikip] [pl.wikip]*(written and codirected by Tadeusz Konwicki [IMDb] []*[] [en.wikip] [pl.wikip]* along with Jan Laskowski [IMDb] []*[] [pl.wikip]*) is an award winning, minimalist film that played recently as part of the series Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema (in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center). 

Set on a deserted stretch of beach along the Baltic Sea, the film involves just two characters, we never learn their names, a young woman (played by Irena Laskowska [IMDb] []*) and a young man (played by Jan Machulski [IMDb] []*).   The young woman had gone out to the beach at the beginning of the day, this "the last day" of her summer vacation.  There she encounters a young man, who it turns out had been spying on her of the last couple of weeks, but finally gained the courage come over and talk to her. 

Initially, she finds him an annoyance (and obviously a few years younger than she).  But, of course, they eventually come to talking.  The rest of the film -- again a very, very simple one -- follows. 

We learn why both were the way they were -- he shy to the point of bordering on creepy (he had been a refugee of one sort or another for so long that he really didn't feel he belonged anywhere -- except perhaps on this deserted part of the beach), she suspicious, afraid of getting hurt (her one love, a pilot, died during the war).  But there they were now ... even as ... annoyingly, deserted as this stretch of beach seemed, it was being used by the (then) current Polish (Communist era) air force to fly-over for training runs.  Throughout the film, the sounds of the breeze and the sea gets interrupted by the sounds of Polish Soviet-made MIG-15s flying both solo and in formation overhead.

So the story is full of tension -- with both IDYLLIC POSSIBILITY (two young people, alone on a seemingly deserted beach) and ... (lingering?) DREAD (those MIGs screeching by periodically overhead).  In a sense the film's a Polish post-war/Cold War era From Here to Eternity [1953] [IMDb] [en.wikip].  Once again, a great / fascinating film!

Note to Readers: this film is available with English-captions on the Polish Studio-KADr's own YouTube Channel.

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

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