During Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, two soldiers discover a strange manuscript at an Inn. The book chronicles the adventures of Alfonso van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski – Ashes and Diamonds). Alfonso’s passage through the dangerous Sierra Morena Mountains is repeatedly interrupted by seemingly random encounters with an assortment of larger than life figures. Tunisian princesses inform Alfonso that he is their cousin and their betrothed; an occult scholar ensnares Alfonso with confounding stories about feuds between Merchants and hardships faced by gypsies. And of course, Alfonso never did expect the Spanish Inquisition.
Adapted from explorer Jan Potocki’s magnum opus, Wojciech J. Has’ The Saragossa Manuscript is a major cult film of the 1960s. Its admirers include film-makers Luis Buñuel and David Lynch as well as musician Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. Its approach to storytelling, admiringly described by comics artist Neil Gaiman as “a labyrinth inside a maze”, features stories within stories, alternatively frightening and comical in its mind-bending exploration of human nature. —Mr Bongo
The son of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, Wojciech Jerzy Has was born in Kraków in 1925. During the Second World War, he studied at a business school while taking secret classes at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts. From an early age, Has was inspired by Surrealism. He would read André Breton’s famous Surrealist Manifesto as well as the poetry of Paul Éluard and Louis Aragon. Visually, the paintings of Max Ernst and Salvador Dali became lifelong touchstones. His interest in cinema led him to pursue a one year course in Film; after which, he began making educational and documentary films at the Warsaw Documentary Film Studio.
His first feature, The Noose (1958), chronicled a day in the life of an alcoholic. Unlike Has’ later films, The Noose was limited in action to the character’s immediate surroundings, focused solely on his self-destructive behavior. While lacking the occult-driven style which he would pioneer with his period films, the film’s focus on the character’s… read more
Fun film (surreal and satirical, abstract and absurd) I find superior to Bunuel and Jodorowsky, both of whom are too self-conscious. Perfect film for a party.
I haven't seen it yet (although I have DVD with "Manuscript" at home, but first I have to read the book), but I'm proud, that one of Bunuel's and Scorsese's favs was made in Poland. I've heard that in Spain people asked in which part of Spain were taken such a beautiful shots, and Has answered that it was made in Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska in Poland.