Urban Cinefile
"Earlobes! "  -Anthony Hopkins on what he wouldn't eat, during a Hannibal interview
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday September 16, 2019 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Witek (Boguslaw Linda) runs after a train and three alternative futures are explored, seeing how such a seemingly banal incident could influence the rest of Witek's life. One: he catches the train, meets an honest Communist and himself becomes a Party activist. Two: while running for the train he bumps into a railway guard, is arrested, brought to trial and sent to work in a park where he meets someone from the opposition. He, in turn, becomes a militant member of the opposition. Three: he simply misses the train, meets a girl from his studies, returns to his interrupted studies, marries the girl and leads a peaceful life as a doctor unwilling to get mixed up in politics. He is sent abroad with his work but his plane explodes mid-air.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The words spoken by the characters in this film are just as important as the basic premise that our lives can change dramatically by the outcome of a single, even slight incident. Sliding doors or missing trains, what if the door shuts and what if we miss the train. Or in this case, if Witek misses it.

Looking deeper than the superficial possibilities, Kieslowski probes three possible scenarios. In the first, Witek catches the train; in the second and third he misses it, and different things happen as a result. He does things differently, makes different choices. And in the third story, he inserts a short scene in which Witek witnesses two men practice juggling several balls with great speed and skill. He asks why they're doing it and they have no great ambition. They're just the best in the world at it. It's an arresting observation from a filmmaker who observes with great skill.

But deep down, Witek is the same person and his morality is always the same, even though his fate is not. That's why the three vastly different possible paths of his life are interesting, and because of the political backdrop - which is not JUST a backdrop when you consider that the film was banned under Martial law that was declared in 1981. Because for Witek, the forces that push him this way and that are not just those of fate - but also of the political powers that control Poland.

Other themes emerge, too, like a conflict between freedom and duty, as the film weaves together the melancholy threads of the human experience - Kishlovski's constant interest.

Published January 31, 2008

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(Czech, 1987)


CAST: Boguslaw Linda, Tadeusz Limnicki, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, Boguslawa Pawelec, Marzena Trybala, Jacek Borkowski, Jacek Sas-Uhrynovski, Adam Ferency, Monika Gozdzik, Zygmunt Hubner, Irena Byrska

PRODUCER: Jacek Szeligowski

DIRECTOR: Krzysztof Kieslowski

SCRIPT: Krzysztof Kieslowski

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Krzysztof Pakulsiki

EDITOR: Elzbieta Kurkowska

MUSIC: Wojciech Kilar

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrzej Rafal Waltenberger

RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.33:1 full frame; DD 2.0 stereo

SPECIAL FEATURES: Recent interviews with cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, filmmaker Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa) and previously unreleased short documentaries directed by Kieslowski


DVD RELEASE: July 12, 2006

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2019