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Krzysztof Zanussi
Poland 1976 / 96’

One of the most important works of the cinema of moral anxiety. The film describes several days at a summer camp for linguists at which a students' paper competition will be decided. The microcosm of camping houses witnesses a dual of words, arguments and - finally - fists as well, between the associate professor Szelestowski and the master of arts Kruszyński (an excellent duo Zapasiewicz-Garlicki). The associate professor, a diabolic cynic fully aware of his "position" in the morally equivocal world, tests the young idealist, who has not yet been tainted with compromise and who wants to combine a scientific career with moral innocence. This confrontation is more ambiguous than it first appears. Szelestowski's sneering, seemingly directed at the young Kruszyński is in fact a desperate attempt to save the colleague from choices he himself once made and thus it serves as self-purification. A bold and merciless picture of the sick relations in communist Poland's scientific milieu, it was enthusiastically received. The excellent depiction of the social background and some ironic, bitter humour also count among the film's strengths.

Mirella Napolska

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