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Tango – Zbigniew Rybczyński

Tango, directed by Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1980, photo: Se-ma-for
Tango, directed by Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1980, photo: Se-ma-for

Tango is an avant-garde animated film, created in 1980 in the Małych Form Filmowych Se-ma-for studio by Zbigniew Rybczyński. It was the first Polish Oscar-winner.

During the eight minutes of the film, we see a blue room which more and more figures gradually enter. As they appear, the music composed by Janusz Hajdun gets enriched by various sounds, some of them rather unpleasant – the cry of a baby, a banging door, the clatter of cutlery. The characters of the animation move around without paying attention to each other, and given how intimate some of the actions they freely engage in are, they remain invisible to each other. Nevertheless, they don't obstruct each others’ way. Some of the characters are seen in strictly private situations (a woman who dresses up), others are doing their job (a repairman), and there are also those who are dressed in coats and look like passers-by, in between the private and the public. With each minute of the film, more and more figures are visible on screen – in the culmination point it's hard to count all the characters, who then gradually start leaving the room, and in the end – like in the beginning of the film – the blue space is empty.

As Daniel Szczechura wrote:

Watching Rybczyński’s films for the first time, I experienced a feeling similar to one I felt many years ago when I was getting to know the work of McLaren or Alexeieff. It’s a similar view on cinema – through the prism of new technical possibilities and, similarly as in the case of the aforementioned directors, Rybczyński achieves a matchless artistic effect. No wonder – Rybczyński is a cameraman, and judging from his works, he is engaged in this profession. He is the director, cameraman, screenwriter and scenographer of his films, but his approach to cinema is primarily that of a cameraman and technician. Tape and its anatomy, the camera and its possibilities, and, especially, the laboratory, have no mysteries for Rybczyński, and what’s more, he achieves effects nobody would expect, as no one else never studied these issues in so much depth.
  • Tango, Poland 1980. Realisation: Zbigniew Rybczyński. Music: Janusz Hajdun. Production: SMFF Se-Ma-For. Duration: 8’.


  • Grand Prix, FIPRESCI Award at International Short Film Festival Oberhausen '81
  • Special Jury Award at Huesca International Film Festival '81
  • Award for the music at the International Short Film Festival in Kraków '81
  • Grand Prix at Annecy International Animated Film Festival '81
  • Award for animation at Tampere Film Festival '82
  • Award for an experimental film at Ottawa International Animation Festival '82
  • 1982 Oscar for the best animated film.

Updated and translated by NS, Feb 2017

Tags: tangozbigniew rybczyńskishort filmanimated filmpolish animated filmoscar

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