Zanussi disappointsThe Cinema of Ideas: Krzysztoff Zanussi. Series of films directed by Krzysztoff Zanussi. Thursdays at 5:30 and 8 pm, through April 11, at the Museum of Fine Arts. Admission $2.50 students, $3 others.
Ever seen "probably the best director in the world?" On Thursday Feb. 14, Krzysztoff Zanussi was introduced as such at the Museum of Fine Arts. He was present for the belated official opening of a festival which will last two months.
Zanussi is a prominent representative of present-day Polish cinema. A physicist and philosopher by education, he consciously puts a clear intellectual stamp on his films. It is his proclaimed aim to address what he considers to be the pressing moral, social and cultural issues of our time.
The introduction presented Zanussi to us as an uncompromising cinematic genius. Zanussi briefly addressed the audience, submitting his latest product -- The Year of the Quiet Sun -- to its judgment.
Unfortunately, given its credentials -- a prize at the Venice Film Festival among them -- it was disappointing. We follow an American officer, on a mission to Poland in the aftermath of World War II, as he falls in love with a recently widowed Polish woman. She hesitates to follow him to America. The story, then, did not lack potential. But it was unconvincing, especially as the process of falling-in-love was left out.
Problems in communication and the contrast of determination and doubt were dealt with tritely. Several scenes were hackneyed to the point of being embarrassing. And, worst of all, editing was clumsy. Zanussi's comment that the film was "not very fast" was something of an understatement: it showed no sense of timing at all.
The most notable moments in the subsequent discussion were related to Zanussi's awkward position in his home country. Indeed, sympathy for his political and cultural cause may have contributed significantly to the surprisingly favorable reception of the film by the cosmopolitan audience.
The Zanussi festival will continue with two films every Thursday. It will doubtless be more worthwile than its opening suggested. Zanussi's reputation as a film maker is considerable, and one failure does not negate his other considerable achievements.