University of Michigan Hosts
Polish Film Series
On Monday nights at 7 p.m. this autumn, the Michigan Theater, at 603 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor, 48104, will offer a Polish film series. This will be one of 31 venues across the country to screen a series of restored classic Polish films, organized and curated by the iconic cinema director Martin Scorsese.
Showcased as part of the Copernicus Program in Polish Studies at the University of Michigan the September 15, offering will be NIGHT TRAIN. The film was also known as THE BALTIC EXPRESS.
In NIGHT TRAIN (Pociąg), directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, a subtle game of emotions plays out between two travelers. Their feelings change from mutual aversion to closeness. Both leads in the film seem so forlorn and without hope for the future. This all plays out while taking the simple task of transportation of a night train in a sleeper car.
Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk) and Marta (Lucyna Winnicka), accidentally end up holding tickets for the same sleeping compartment on an overnight train to the Baltic Sea coast. Also complicating things, on board is Marta’s spurned lover, who will not leave her alone. When the police enter the train in search of a murderer on the run, rumors fly and everything seems to point toward one of the main characters as the culprit.
The musical score by Andrzej Trzaskowski heightens the anxiety and the black and white close shots by master cinematographer Jan Laskowski also adds tension. The repeated tight shots reminds the viewer of Hitchcock’s classics, THE 39 STEPS and THE LADY VANISHES.
NIGHT TRAIN may be a storyline of the Russian political boot on the Polish people during the Cold War. The screenplay shows misfits that come together among the society of passengers to socially rebel. Could this have been a precursor to the Solidarność movement? Does all of Poland escape at the end of the line?
If this review hasn’t gotten your attention, remember Kawalerowicz also directed the cinema masterpiece, QUO VADIS. In 2009, there was an American remake of NIGHT TRAIN, which went straight to video and was written and directed by Brian King. Danny Glover, Leelee Sobieski, and Steve Zahn starred.
NIGHT TRAIN……..1959. B&W …… 98 minutes…….. Polish with subtitles.
The last presentation will be on December 8, 2014. The MAN OF IRON (1981) is a Canne Film Festival top award winner, the Palme d’Or prize. This Oscar nominated masterpiece follows the 1980 Gdańsk workers’ strike that birthed the Solidarity trade union.
Advance tickets are available at www.ticketweb.com. (734) 668-8397
The schedule of films is as follows: All Films at 7:00 p.m. 9/15: "Night Train" (1959) 9/22: "A Short Film About Killing" (1987) 9/29: "Jump" (1965) 10/6: "The Illumination" (1972) 10/13: "The Saragossa Manuscript" (1964) 10/20: "Pharaoh" (1965) 10/27: "Mother Joan of the Angels" (1960) 11/3: "Ashes and Diamonds" (1958) 11/10: "The Hour-glass Sanatorium" (1973) 11/17: "Austeria" (1982) 11/24: "Black Cross" (1960) 12/1: "The Promised Land" (1974) 12/8: "Man of Iron" (1981)
By Raymond Rolak