Friday Editor’s Pick: The Devil (1972)

by on March 9, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Fri March 16 at 6:50, 9:15 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]

Another rarity (with live subtitle projections care of BAM and the Polish Cultural Institute) in BAM’s “Hysterical Excess: Discovering Andrzej Zulawski.” This one got him kicked out of Poland.

Dan Callahan entices in his feature for Alt Screen:

Zulawski’s second feature, The Devil (1972), follows a madman, Jakub (Leszek Teleszynski), on an increasingly bloody walking tour through the Polish countryside after the Prussian invasion of 1793. As an electric guitar wails on the soundtrack, Jakub sternly surveys many scenes of sexual excess, taking a straight razor to the throats of many a hysterical woman. He discovers his father’s dead body while a vindictive dwarf plays a kazoo nearby, and his sister confesses, “I’ve learned to take pleasure in beating,” after getting a bucketful of water flung in her face (the water wets the camera lens as well). The dwarf then throws a handful of dirt into Jakub’s face as he tries to bury his father, and this is followed by Jakub nearly sleeping with his own mother.


“That was an embarrassment of thrills,” says a man at one point in The Devil, carrying his caterwauling blond lover away from a ballroom orgy dominated by misplaced sexual urges and warped patriotism. By the end, it is suggested that The Devil himself is at the bottom of all this trouble, and this Devil is actually castrated on screen. For Zulawski, sexual self-indulgence appears to be at the root of most evil, but the authorities in Poland only saw the licentious surface and not the underlying moralizing, and so The Devil was banned and forced the director to leave his country to find work. It is the film of a conservative and very despairing man who (judging from his movies alone), has serious issues with sex, women and homosexuality.

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Andrzej Zulawski retro at BAM (Mar 07-20)

by on March 7, 2012Posted in: Essay

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