A Mind @ Play

random thoughts to oil the mind

Tag: Poland

Krystyna Janda in Dublin

Krystyna Janda

On Saturday I went to a meeting with Krystyna Janda presented by The National Creativity Centre Foundation, in the National Gallery in Dublin. The meeting principally took the form of a questions and answers session, conducted by the famous Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi, ahead of the Irish première of Krystyna Janda’s monologue adaptation of Vedrana Rudan’s Ear, Throat, Knife.

Whilst the interview was pretty interesting, given Janda’s extremely busy and varied career, the translating at the event was a little under par. The predominance of Polish speakers in the audience meant that the poor translator didn’t always get a say until after a few questions had been asked or answered, and her pretty difficult task of translating her own shorthand wasn’t helped by Mr Zanussi interrupting occasionally to demonstrate his own knowledge of English, and I was frankly embarrassed for the poor translator. Most questions focused dealt with Janda’s career in acting, both on stage and on the silver screen, from her early roles in films such as Andrzej Wajda’s Człowiek z marmuru (Man of Marble) or working alongside Klaus Maria Brandauer in Mephisto, to her more recent work with the Polonia Theatre in Warsaw. Many of the audience’s questions focused on her family life, work in politics and music, and just where she finds the energy to keep it all going. Not sure if she answered that sufficiently, but she did suggest that there would be more going on in her blog in the future.

Katyń

Caught Andrzej Wajda’s Katyń this week as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and have to say I was fairly impressed. It will probably be the only film I’ll see since the prices go up at this time of year, and indeed I was quite lucky to catch this one since the first showing sold out with over a week to go, no doubt in large part due to the significant number of Polish people living in Dublin. Sadly, being sat right at the front didn’t give a particularly good vantage point for flicking between the pictures and the subtitles, and this is one film I’ll have to watch again on DVD before I can fully make up my mind, but the screenplay was well written and easy to follow despite the amalgam of different plotlines. Unfortunately, some of the character portrayals were rather wooden and to some extent detracted from the film’s message, if there is one beyond the plain Rankean historical analysis.

Nevertheless, Krzysztof Penderecki provides a beautiful score to underline the images, with a smattering of Tchaikovsky and Chopin thrown in during some of the propaganda scenes. As a piece of cinematography the film probably deserves its Oscar nomination, though it is difficult to tell whether it will be remembered more for that or its political implications. That the film does not get caught in a loop of nationalist propagandism is important in light of the tendencies in Moscow and elsewhere. Power is not what comes from the end of a gun but the ability to make people believe ones lies. Certainly disturbing news from Putin’s Russia.

The film’s climax is a rather visceral, and to some extents shocking visual of what the film is after all about. However it does offer an interesting juxtaposition for those taken by the irrationality of mankind—as officer after officer is dispatched in the name of political idealism, these same go to their deaths with a prayer on their lips. Absurd or simply tragic? One thing however is for certain, and that is that my quest for the non-melancholy Polish film continues…

For a brave new future.

Travels in the Shadow of the Curtain

Despite it feeling like almost yesterday, a fortnight has already passed since I returned from this year’s travels. With the jet-set revolution in full swing, and RyanAir’s European footprint under continuous eastward expansion, I took the opportunity this year to expand my own carbon footprint and head to the east. Armed with a smattering of Russian, an able German companion and a small roll of banknotes, this year’s travels took me to Riga, third largest industrial city of Imperial Russia, and capital of one of the more vibrant economies in Europe today. After five days in a bed & breakfast there, it was followed by a stay in probably the most famous cultural and historical city in Poland: Krakow.

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