Saturday, June 25, 2011


A Generation (1955)/ Andrzej Wajda

This still from the film is particularly essential, because it combines in a single frame innumerable ideas, all distilled through visual symbols. Tadeusz Lomnicki, who looks like a Hollywood leading-man type from the early 50s, is a Polish rebel who up till this singular moment in the film has hokey ideas about rebellion (rebellion as a medium of courtship/rebellion as masculinity), but deposited in the office of a Polish officer who is on the Nazi side, he finally understands the stakes-at-hand. In this frame, he stands with his back to the Polish map, helpless and defeated, as the baton of the officer casts a diagonal shadow that runs like a scar through his face. There are humiliations through domination of various sorts : the map (territorial occupation), Polish worker (personal insult), baton-shadow (looming armed threat) - all of them coalescing to form a picture of wholesome imposition. Ofcourse, the officer is an off-screen presence, and is, ironically, Polish himself. In the next scene, Lomnicki and his friends sneak up to the joint where the depraved officer's predictably indulging in drunken revelry, and in a revelatory moment of the Micheal Corleone-mode, shoot at him multiple times; in the process, becoming real 'men'.

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