Polowanie na muchy [Hunting Flies]
I willingly accepted Janusz Glowacki's film script without giving it much thought. Driven by frustration of temporary personal misadventures, I decided to settle the score with women who try to control men's lives. As always in such hopeless situations, the beginnings looked promising enough. First of all, Malgorzata Braunek was a perfect choice. With her broad grin and terrifying eyes magnified by huge glasses, she aptly conveyed the image of a carnivorous fly hunter as conceived by Glowacki in his script.
Much would have been gained, had I implemented my initial idea of enhancing her psychological portrait. Unfortunately, a male partner was needed to carry the game. My first choice was Bogumil Kobiela, and I had even conducted a screen test with him. Unfortunately, my faculties were dimmed by my temporary disgust with women, and I got into my head that a man totally manipulated by a woman had to be a nonentity. Kobiela seemed to me to have too much character and personality. Now I know, of course, that it was precisely Kobiela's sense of humour which could have saved the film from my conceit. But I lacked clear judgement and had to pay for it. Apart from Malgorzata Braunek's excellent part and, in my view, a superb minor episode played by Daniel Olbrychski (who mainly served as my assistant on the set), what resulted was a fairly colourless film.
Later, Marek Piwowski managed successfully to convey Janusz Glowacki's world on the screen, but at the time, Piwowski was still my student at the Film School in Lodz, and it was too early for me to learn from him.
From the way the two protagonists are presented, one has to assume that the author intended to produce a satire. And there would be nothing special about the idea, were it not conceived by Wajda. A satirical approach has never been his forte. In fact, it has never figured in his work at all. At the time of their intense rivalry, it was Munk who in CrossEyed Luck and in Eroica used his iconoclastic rationalism to mock great national themes, while Wajda specialized in viewing the same subject matter from the tragicoromantic point of view... A satirical comedy can be both witty and stinging without necessarily making fools or idiots of its characters. If a much respected leader of young writers, the mighty Olubiec, is portrayed simply as a boorish and petty fool, then the author's attempt to deride the real shortcomings and peculiarities of his milieu necessarily misses the point. What is more, it provokes the viewer to question the allegedly superior intelligence of Irena, who is full of admiration and respect for the man...
To sum up, one has to say that Wajda looked for satirical ingredients in the wrong places. His broadly drawn caricatures and simplifications not only failed to make his film funny, but they seriously reduced its intellectual dimension.
The film includes a deeply moving symbolic episode: the scene in which the girl takes the boy for a walk. They walk around a walled in prisonyard. Suddenly, the boy decides to escape, to extricate himself from the magic circle of her domination. But as he reaches out for freedom, Irena's sweet voice can be heard and his hands lose their grip. Malgorzata Braunek is a great success in the role of the merciless flyhunter. Her Irena is distressingly simple and natural, very much like tens, hundreds, or even thousands of other girls her age. But her smile is unforgettable; not for its charm, but for its ominous foreboding.
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