Andrzej Żuławski’s adaptation of Manuela Gretkowska’s provocative and hugely successful novel reaches new extremes in the depiction of brutality, sex, and passion as it tells the story of a young(ish) anthropologist driven by the mystery surrounding the death of a recently discovered shaman; and his growing obsession with an enigmatic yet violently perverse beauty known as “The Italian.” Szamanka (“She-Shaman”) is a film “without brakes.” Above all else, it is a ‘demonic’ film where characters are battlegrounds in the war between devils and angels, where angels are agents of God and devils are those of the Devil. This pulpy, sexually charged tale with its deranged erotic futurism underlines Żuławski’s commitment to stretch the limits of aesthetic expression by exploring themes beyond the pale in conventional cinema. Violence, exuberance and sexuality are its key ingredients. Through hysteria, possession and hallucination we see what the Polish writer Stanislaw Przybyszewski called ‘naked soul’. –Mondo Vision
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
Really wonderful analysis of this film; https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/crcl/article/view/10718/8275
FANTASIA '13 Presented at a tribute to Zulawski attended by the director. This incredibly strange picture marked Zulawski's return to Poland after years working in Europe and was an adaptation of female novelist Mauela Gretkowska' script. Marketed as a feminist vision it instead feels hysterical with actress Iwona Petry releasing a character of woman at her most primal, her most sexual, her most deranged.A wild ride.
A discussion with director for his first US retrospective.