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The Constant Factor


Directed by Krzysztof Zanussi
Poland, 1980
  • Polish
  • English, French, German
The Films of Krzysztof Zanussi


A young man is confronted with corrupt and vindictive colleagues at work and negligent officials at the hospital where his mother is dying. As he searches quixotically for a steadfast moral code by which to live, he suffers from the knowledge of human frailty and our darker inclinations to do harm.

Our take

Our Krzysztof Zanussi retrospective moves into the 1980s with one of his most acclaimed films and the winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Through its hero’s eyes—and the travails of a righteous and honest man—we see, at the end of the 1970s, what’s become of the Communist dream.

The Constant Factor Directed by Krzysztof Zanussi

Awards & Festivals

Cannes Film Festival

1980 | 2 wins including: Jury Prize

Polish Film Festival

1980 | Winner: Special Jury Prize

Critics reviews

Marek’s wish to climb mountains like his father is a clear metaphor for his idealism, and also a representation of the film’s “constant factor.” Just as Marek’s idealism is rooted in the improbable (as determined by the society into which he was born, something that he couldn’t control), his fate has only one probable outcome.
May 30, 2014
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The Constant Factor [hints] at grand metaphysical themes that clash with a story of everyday disappointment; Zanussi makes no attempt to reconcile them, and his stubborn refusal to do so gives the film an eerie opacity.
May 28, 2014
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What are people saying?

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