Set during the occupation of Poland during World War II. Some German soldiers slaughter a woman, her son and daughter-in-law. The husband and his father escape for being in the forest. The young man decides to join the resistance but at the first meeting Gestapo officers kill his go-between and chase him. During his escape he gets into an apartment of a pregnant woman and helps her with the childbirth. He works in the typhus center where he is guinea pig for lice after being immunized to make more vaccine. He goes to the hospital to end a misery of a man mistaken by him and tortured where he seems to see his own body and is finally reconciled with himself. —Polish Cinema Database
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
There's a stunt about 25 minutes into this film that's one of the most impressive and terrifying things I've ever seen. The stuntman takes a fall from a balcony, straight down about three floors onto his head. I have no idea how this could have been accomplished without killing him. Zulawski's films aren't just stunningly poetic, he's a remarkable innovator too, in all sorts of technical areas.
What a remarkable debut film by Zulawski.This movie will linger in my brain for a long time.
A discussion with director for his first US retrospective.