Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Grain of Truth (orig. Ziarno prawdy) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing listing* (D. Sobolewski) review (K. Siwoń) review* (Ł. Rogojsz) review* (Z. Pietrasik) review* review* (M. Fijołek) review*

A Grain of Truth (orig. Ziarno prawdy) [2015] [IMDb] []* (directed and screenplay co-written by Borys Lankosz [IMDb] []* along with Zygmunt Miłoszewski [IMDb] []* based on Miłoszewski's [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] novel by the same name [GR-Eng] [WCat-Eng] [Amzn-Eng] [GR-Pol]*[WCat-Pol]*[Amzn-Pol]*) is a Polish Angels and Demons [2009]-like thriller that several of the (younger) reviewers (Polish) listed above have _enthusiastically_ declared "the best film of its kind made in Poland since (the fall of the Communists in) 1989."  The film played at the 2015 (27th Annual) Polish Film Festival in America held here in Chicago.

As in Dan Brown's [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb] novels, so to in Miłoszewski's [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb] []*, at the center of the story is an investigator.  In this case, he's a brash, no nonsense (some reviewers above would add "arrogant," "piggish" / "misogynistic") Warsaw based prosecutor named Teodor Szacki (played in the film by Robert Więckiewicz [IMDb] []*). There's an entire Entanglement [GR-Eng] [WCat-Eng] [Amzn-Eng] series of books that Miłoszewski [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb] []* has created around him.

In the current story while in a process of a divorce (presumably deserved because he is something of a male chauvinist when it comes to women) back in Warsaw, Szacki decides to take a case "out in the Provinces" in a "sleepy little provincial town" named Sandomierz [wikip].  And, oh my, what a shocking mess he walks into ...

A woman has been murdered.  But murdered in a spectacularly bizarre way.  Her body, her throat having been slit, was found dumped, clean, on the steps of the local historical archives, and had been drained (prior to her dumping) of all of her blood.  It was as if she had been slaughtered rather than simply murdered.

The single gash at her throat and the bizarre draining of her blood _immediately suggested_ THE WORST.  She was killed in a way that resembled the way that the Jewish community slaughters animals to fulfill its kosher laws and this IMMEDIATELY EVOKED the MOST EVIL / LIBELOUS accusations made against the Jewish Community (back in Medieval times), that is, that the Jewish community would somehow capture and slaughter Christian innocents and use their blood to make their matzo bread for Passover.

And it turns out that in THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH in Sandomierz [wikip] _actually_ HANGS A GHASTLY PAINTING by Karol de Prevot [pl.wilip]* (now thankfully covered by red velvet veil and a pious picture of St. John Paul II, though significantly, the painting has NOT been destroyed) DEPICTING these horrendous practices of which the Jews of the time were -- EVER IN THE DARKEST OF RUMOR / CONSPIRACY -- accused.  

Note to the Reader here, OF COURSE, THE MURDER (and A STRING OF SIMILAR MURDERS SOON FOLLOWS) was NOT committed by someone who was Jewish, but RATHER as a Rabbi from Lublin named Zykmunt (played excellently by Zohar Strauss [IMDb] []*) who Szacki consults in the case, by someone fascinated by and thus eventually "self-schooled in" this dark legend.

Szacki's investigation then uncovers ALL KINDS of "dirty laundry" hanging about this previously seeming "sleepy little provincial town."

There's a wierdo "medieval implements" collector who "runs a blog / YouTube channel" on said topic living in the town.  And after enthusiastically first explaining to inspector Szacki the ritual-like nature of the woman's murder even asks him: "After you find the murder weapon, oh yes, after you're done with it, can I have it?"

There's a rich guy living at the edge of town, who turns out to be a "Polish Patriot" (meaning POLISH FASCIST ... yes, these people EXISTED and EXIST TODAY) who had no love for either Jews (wrong nationality) OR for the "Pedophile Church" (again, too "universalist" for his ideology's liking ...).

Then there's the media, as well as local idiots, demanding that said media "declare the obvious" that there's "a grain of truth" to the ritualistic nature of the murders (and _presumably_ to the libelous myth that seemed to inspire them ...)

And of course, there's even the story of a Jewish family that had moved into the town in the years after WW II (after the town's previous / indigenous Jewish population having been wiped out by the NAZIS _and_ with POLISH LOCALS HAVING HAD MOVED INTO THEIR PREVIOUS HOUSES).  It wasn't entirely clear "what happened" to that Jewish family that had strayed into the town after the war, but it was suggested that _perhaps_ "a relative of theirs" could now be "wreaking vengeance" on the local Polish populace.

Anyway, in the midst of this _truly_ TOXIC SOUP of previously repressed history, the hard-nosed / no nonsense Warsaw-ite procurator Szacki has to do his investigation.

What does he find?  I'm not going to tell you ;-)  But obviously NO ONE JEWISH was involved, and even the "Conspiracy" was not "great."  Sometimes / OFTEN ... EVIL IS ... QUITE ... BANAL.

Still one heck of a nerve-wracking if well-crafted / jittery tale.


I have to say that the _continued existence_ of the shockingly anti-Semitic painting (albeit perhaps covered) by Karol de Prevot [pl.wilip]* in Sandomierz's [en.wikip] Cathedral Church [pl.wikip]* has certainly surprised / shocked me.

Normally, I do oppose art / artifacts being destroyed.  I've considered the Taliban's 2001 destruction of the GIANT statues of the Buddha in Bamiyan, Afghanistan or more recently ISIL's razing of the ruins at the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud to be shocking crimes against history / humanity.  But a good part of me would honestly want this painting by Karol de Prevot [pl.wilip]* destroyed.

I do understand the dilemma (it is history) and that the Catholic Church has that picture, for the most part, covered with a big red drape and the above mentioned pious portrait of St. John Paul II.  I also wonder if destroying the picture could _perhaps_ give it more power (provoking all sorts of conspiracy theories surrounding its destruction).

HOWEVER, if there exists such a thing of an object that would be truly _possessed_ or _evil_ -- I think here of the "Storage Room," kept by the American / Catholic paranormal / anti-demonic investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and portrayed in the film The Conjuring [2013] -- I would DEFINITELY consider this painting to be one such object ... as it can not but produce profound unease in people and "lead them to Evil." 

* Foreign language webpages are most easily translated using Google's Chrome Browser. 

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