Blind Chance - Krzysztof Kieślowski


Kadr z filmu "Przypadek". Na zdjęciu: Bogusław Linda, fot. Filmoteka Narodowa / www.fototeka.fn.org.plA still from Blind Chance. Bogusław Linda, photo: Filmoteka Narodowa / www.fototeka.fn.org.pl

A 1981 feature film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski. 

Witek, a medical student from Łódź in central Poland, decides to leave university for a year and go to Warsaw after his father’s death. He arrives late at the station - the train has already started moving. From here, his story plays out in three different ways. Version I – he catches the train and meets an old communist whose influence makes him begin a career as an activist for the communist youth organization. Version II – he misses the train and scuffles with a railway guard who tries to stop him. He's soon sentenced to a month of community service, where he meets many dissidents and gets involved in an anti-communist conspiracy. In both of these incarnations, as a communist and as an anti-communist, he will face accusations of betrayal. Version III – he misses the train and no one stops him. He goes back to the medical academy, works as a doctor, marries, has a son, and stays away from politics. The dean of his faculty gives him the opportunity to travel to Libya for a series of lectures. He gets on the plane, which, a few seconds after take off, explodes...

The peculiarity of the idea lies in the fact that the stories are varied - the same character, with the same personality, lives simultaneously different variants of the same life, finding himself belonging to opposite camps. In other words, he plays the social games wearing different costumes (refusing to play at all in the last variant).

The point is that once we acknowledge that all three variants of Witek’s life are plausible we have to seriously consider Kieślowski’s main idea. What is this idea? Is it a question of ‘who is it better to be’? ’Who is more glorious to be’? ‘Who is more profitable to be’? Not at all. Witek is equally honest in each of his incarnations. In each of them he makes a single mistake, which makes him a subject of unjust suspicion (…)

None of the variants lead him to victory, even though he always acts with integrity. Almost everything in his life is determined by blind chance: his social role, ideas, even love and religion. You always follow in somebody’s footsteps, in this way or another, never both at the same time. You believe in these truths or those truths, the ones you were taught by people who you trusted. We do not have enough time to understand or see it to the end. Only fidelity is a constant virtue, but not the object of fidelity. Nor beliefs. What then is constant? Only the unknown fate that awaits us - and conscience. Everything else is just blind chance. In the ultimate moments the ideologies and social roles that you have been playing turn out to be just an insignificant, temporary feature - wrote Tadeusz Sobolewski, Kino 1987.

Blind Chance (Przypadek). Written and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski. Cinematography by Krzysztof Pakulski. Music by Wojciech Kilar. Set design by Rafał Waltenberger. Sound Department Michał Żarnecki. Film editing Elżbieta Kurkowska. Cast Bogusław Linda (Witek Długosz), Tadeusz Łomnicki (Werner), Zbigniew Zapasiewicz (Adam), Bogusława Pawelec (Czuszka), Marzena Trybała (Werka), Irena Byrska (ciotka), Jacek Borkowski (Marek), Jacek Sas-Uhrynowski (Daniel), Adam Ferency (ksiądz Stefan), Monika Goździk (Olga), Zygmunt Huebner (dziekan). Executive producer: Zespół Filmowy TOR, 1981, colour, 35 mm, 3347 m. Duration: 122 min.

Prizes:

  • Krzysztof Kieślowski for script, Bogusław Linda for main character at the Gdynia Film Festival, 1987.
  • Soviet Filmmakers AssociationAward  at the International Film Festival in Moscow, 1987.

 

Translated by W.O. February 2014

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