Andrzej Zulawski’s La Femme Publique is a cinematic milestone rich with extreme imagery and raw emotions. Twenty-five years after its controversial inception at the Cannes Film Festival, this story of a young, struggling actress retains the power to shock even the most seasoned of movie goers with its violently stylish, apocalyptic tone. A woman’s destiny, divided between angel and demon… An hour and fifty-four minutes of painful happiness, La Femme Publique scratches the soul, slaps the eyes, and seduces like the maelstrom that each one of us hides beyond the conscious. To summarize La Femme Publique is impossible, dangerous and impoverishing. Zulawski is not a man of words; he plays and juggles with the image, the color, the rhythm, the sound, the music, and this unspeakable shamelessness that he steals from his actors so effectively. Between humor and paroxysm, La Femme Publique is a fascinating metaphysical experience with a degree of intensity that needs to be seen to be believed. Simply put, it represents cinema at its most insane and brilliant. —Mondo Vision (http://mondo-vision.com/publique.php)
Andrzej Zulawski was born on the territory of what was then the U.S.S.R. in a Polish family with remarkable traditions in arts and literature. After World War II, his father’s diplomatic career brought the family to France (1945-1949), Czechoslovakia (1949-1952), and finally to Poland. He studied film direction at IDHEC in Paris (1957-1959) and philosophy at both Warsaw University (1961) and Université de Paris (1962-1964).
First, he assisted the famous Polish director Andrzej Wajda during the filming of Samson (1961), Popioly (1966), and the Warsaw episode of L’Amour à Vingt Ans (1962). In 1967, Zulawski directed two short films, Piesn Triumfujacej Milosci and Pavoncello, for Polish TV.
His feature debut, Trzecia Czesc Nocy (1971), as well as those previous films were co-scripted by his father, poet Miroslaw Zulawski. The picture was well received at the Venice Film Festival and awarded as the Best Debut in its homeland, but had only limited release due to Polish censorship… read more
The strangeness of Andrzej Zulawski is always a source of fascination and frustration. La Femme Publique is a surreal story centered around a beautiful woman who gets a part in a film based on Dostoyevsky's The Possessed and gets manipulated by the craziness of the director. Zulawski's storytelling is overall confusing, but his vivid camera work makes you forget the weakness. Still, Possession is his masterpiece. 3+.
A discussion with director for his first US retrospective.