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Family Life

Krzysztof Zanussi
Poland 1971 / 88’

Confrontation between a technocrat son and his father, a pre-war industrialist, serves here as a pretext for reflection on the culture Polish intelligentsia. Family Life is a picturesque, powerful depiction of a bourgeois family with pre-war industrial traditions. A villa in Warsaw with an overgrown garden probably with earlier pretensions of being a mansion, but has deteriorated since then - this is the home of a young engineer, Wit, who works in Silesia with a great deal of success. The household consists of a despotic father, a bored aunt, an eccentric sister (the first and excellent role of the director's muse - Maja Komorowska) and a giant dog whose name - Caligari - demonstrates its owners' true love of cinema. Wit's friend, Marek, is an active observer of this family psychodrama. As Zanussi himself suggests, the figure of the father and his relationship with his son are set in an autobiographical context: I cannot hide that Family Life is my attempt to argue with my father; of course it is disguised in an entirely different anecdote but there are plenty of allusions to various conflicts between us. Seen more broadly, the film is a universal treatise on the heritage brought from one's family, which can be of value, but a burden too.Whether you accept it or deny it, you cannot get rid of it.

Mirella Napolska

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