University of Pittsburgh


Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Contemporary Polish Cinema (Polish 0870)

Instructor: Elzbieta Ostrowska (visiting from Lodz, Poland)
Course Meets: Tuesday, 1:00 - 4:50, in room 352 CL
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 11:00 - 11.45
Office: 1417 Cathedral of Learning
e-mail: e_ostrowska@hotmail.com (to be changed)
Phone: 624 5706

General Course Description:

The course is designed as a survey of Polish cinema since 1945 up to the present, as an example of both a national and a European cinema. Films will be examined from both a historical and an aesthetic perspective in order to present the main trends in post-war Polish cinema, for example: Socialist Realism, the Polish Film School and the Cinema of Moral Concern. This will lead into a discussion of the works of some of the most important Polish filmmakers (Andrzej Wajda, Andrzej Munk, Roman Polanski, Agnieszka Holland, Krzysztof Kieslowski and others).

Films to be examined may be arranged in three general groups:

· Films representing World War II: their relation to Polish national ideology (Polish Romanticism) and cultural tradition.
· Films representing post-war reality and their relation to important socio-political changes in post-war Poland.
· Films focusing on the role of cinema, and cultural production in general, in the process of the construction of the national collective consciousness

By the end of the course students will be familiar with the main trends of Polish post-war cinema as well as with works by the most important Polish filmmakers. They will also be able to use methods of textual and contextual film analysis.



Required Textbooks

Boleslaw Michalek, Frank Turaj (1988), Modern Cinema of Poland, Indiana University Press. Frank Bren (1993), World Cinema: Poland, London.
Additional materials will be photocopied.

General Instruction:

Classes will consist of screenings, introductory lectures, student presentations and seminar discussions.

Grading:

Grading will be based on three written essays:
Essay 1 (1500 words) will be an analysis of a single film screened and discussed during the first four weeks.
To be submitted on September 25.
Essay 2 (1500 words) will be an analysis of a chosen film in relation to its historical context.
To be submitted on October 30.
Essay 3 (3000 words) will be an analysis of one general issue examined during the whole semester
To be submitted by December 4.

Grading:
Essay 1 - 25% of grade
Essay 2 - 25% of grade
Essay 3 - 50% of grade

List of films to be screened:

Adventure in Mariensztat, dir. Leonard Buczkowski, 1953
Ashes and Diamonds, dir. Andrzej Wajda, 1958
Bad Luck, Andrzej Munk, 1958
The Passenger, dir. Andrzej Munk, 1963
Lodz Ghetto (doc.), dir.Dariusz Jablonski, 1998
Knife in the Water, dir. Roman Polanski, 1962
Man of Marble, dir Andrzej Wajda, 1977
Camera Buff, dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1979
Man of Iron, dir. Andrzej Wajda, 1981
Lonely Woman, dir. Agnieszka Holland, 1981
Sexmission, dir. Juliusz Machulski, 1984
Decalogue V, VIII, dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988
The Turned Back, dir. Kazimierz Kutz, 1994
Pigs, dir. Wladyslaw Pasikowski, 1992
Europa, Europa, dir. Agnieszka Holland, 1990

Course Schedule:

WEEK I
Socialist Realism in Polish cinema (1949-1955)
- The political situation of Poland after 1945
- The organization of the Polish film industry after World War II
- Film as a means of political propaganda
Screening:
Adventure on Mariensztat, dir. Leonard Buczkowski, 1953
Reading:
Michalek, Turaj, pp. 1-14
Bren, pp. 34-52

WEEK II
The Polish Film School (1956-1963)
- The October Thaw in 1956
- The tradition of Polish Romanticism in Polish cinema
- Wajda's trilogy (A Generation, Kanal, Ashes and Diamonds)
Screening:
Ashes and Diamonds, dir. Andrzej Wajda, 1958
Required reading:
Michalek, Turaj, pp. 19-30; 129-136.

WEEK III
Ironic perspectives on Polish history
- Romantic irony
- Realism as a main feature of Andrzej Munk's style
Screening:
Bad Luck, Andrzej Munk, 1958
Reading:
Michalek, Turaj, pp. 19-30; 114-125

WEEK IV
Poland and the Holocaust
- The Jew as the Other in Polish cultural discourse
- Representations of Jews in Polish culture
- Holocaust issues in Polish cinema
Screening:
The Passenger, dir. Andrzej Munk, 1963
Lodz Ghetto (doc.), dir.Dariusz Jablonski, 1998
Reading:
Michalek, Turaj, pp.125-128.

WEEK V
Cinematic representations of Polish reality in the 1960s
- The Political and social situation; crisis of moral values: "little stabilization"
- The emergence of a new generation of filmmakers: Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski
- Popular cinema / National cinema
Screening:
Knife in the Water, dir. Roman Polanski, 1962 Required reading:
Michalek and Turaj, pp.41-45
Bren, pp. 63-67

WEEK VI
Revisionist representation of the Stalinist period in Andrzej Wajda's Man of Marble - Stalinist oppression of the individual
- Reflexivity in the Polish context
- The worker as a continuation of the idea of the Polish romantic hero
Screening:
Man of Marble, dir Andrzej Wajda, 1977
Required reading:
Michalek and Turaj, pp. 156-60,
Bren, pp. 133-144.

WEEK VII
The Cinema of Moral Concern
- The development of documentary
- The emergence of a new generation of filmmakers (e.g. Krzysztof Kieslowski, Feliks Falk, Grzegorz Królikiewicz, Agnieszka Holland)
- New engagements with social and political reality
Screening:
Camera Buff, dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1979 Reading:
Michalek, Turaj, pp. 59-79.

WEEK VIII
Film as a witness of historical events - the representation of the revolution of 'Solidarity' in Andrzej Wajda's Man of Iron
- The decade of workers' rebels - January 1970 up to August 1980
- The artist as politician
- Man of Iron - political strength and artistic weakness
Screening:
Man of Iron, dir. Andrzej Wajda, 1981
Reading required:
Michalek and Turaj, pp. 163-167

WEEK IX
Representations of Polish femininity in cinema - The Individual vs. History
- The construction of femininity in Polish cultural discourse
- The myth of the Polish Mother
- Dominant images of women in Polish cinema
Screening:
Lonely Woman, dir. Agnieszka Holland, 1981.
Reading required:
Elzbieta Oleksy, "A sparrow with a broken wing…and a shot of vodka": Construction of femininity in Post-War Polish Visual Culture"

WEEK X
Polish cinema between 1981 (Martial Law) and the collapse of Communism - Escapes into popular genres
- Popular cinema in post-war Poland
- Popular form in relation to the political regime
- Popular debates on gender issues
Screening:
Sexmission, dir. Juliusz Machulski, 1984 Reading required:
Bren, pp. 118-127.

WEEK XI
Polish cinema between 1981 (Martial Law) and the collapse of Communism: Escapes to universal themes.
- Krzysztof Kieslowski: universal themes - European co-production
- Moral reflection on contemporaneity and the past
Screening:
Decalogue V, VIII, dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988

WEEK XII
Polish cinema after the collapse of Communism - ironic visions of history
- Great History from Everyman's perspective
- Andrzej Munk's legacy in The Turned Back by Kazimierz Kutz
Screening:
The Turned Back, dir. Kazimierz Kutz, 1994

WEEK XIII
Popular cinema after 1989 - between the local and global
- Post-modernity in Polish cinema after 1989
- Polish masculinity: between idealism and skepticism
Screening:
Pigs, dir. Wladyslaw Pasikowski, 1992
Reading required:
Michael Stevenson, "I don't feel like talking to you anymore: Gender Uncertainties in Polish Film since 1989", in: Gender in Film and the Media. East-West Dialogues, eds. E. Oleksy, E. Ostrowska, M. Stevenson, Frankfurt am Main, 2000.

WEEK XIV
Europa, Europa - The European/Polish epic
- Issues of individual, national, racial, ethnic identity
- Epic form in the traditions of European and Polish art.
Screening:
Europa, Europa, dir. Agnieszka Holland, 1990
Reading required:
Janet Lungstrum, "Foreskin Fetishism: Jewish male difference in Europa, Europa", Screen, vol. 39, no.1.