Szamanka

Szamanka ★★★★½

I think what people find either frustrating or just attractive in Zulawski's films is his insistence of depicting the psychic world out in the very physical material world, doing so by using cinema at its most narrative and reality depicting. I think of how a painter might describe an emotion, and how it is immediately flattenedd out in the process. In cinema, while on a flat visual plane, the dynamism of movement, of sound, of human beings performing, it overwhelms, and Zulawski pushes and pushes that to levels that is sure to unsettle. He takes his actors, without fail, to these manic heights of another reality, and when you slam these performances down into our world of flesh and mechanics, it is strange, haunting, and out of place. Zulawski has been doing this over and over again (Possession, Silver Globe, The Devils are the three I've seen), and I think Szamanka seems to be the honing down of those points in a pretty direct way. The leering, pawing, propositioning, assaulting males, and the response to this behaviour is no less explicit (vomiting, slapping, beating, genital flashing, upturning cripples in their chairs). It is all laid out when scientists are standing over the remains of a 2,500 year old shaman, and the reverence Michal has for the 'shaman life'.