Biographical Film about Theatrical Legend Tadeusz Kantor Being Made
small, Biographical Film about Theatrical Legend Tadeusz Kantor Being Made, Tadeusz Kantor directing The Dead Class, Kraków, 20 January 1988. Photo: Włodzimierz Wasyluk, tadeusz kantor_6922364.jpg
Newsweek called his The Dead Class the best theatrical play in the world. He was known for his uncompromising artistic stance, unparalleled charisma, and great vision. A biographical film about this important late director recently began shooting in Kraków.
I Shall Never Return
Sometimes there’s no point in making a biographical movie about a great artist simply because there’s not a great chance of it being interesting. After all, there is no rule stating that every important creator has to have an interesting life story. However, fortunately for the movie about Kantor, the legendary Polish theatrical director led a long and eventful life. His time on Earth encompassed the most important events of Polish 20th century history. He was born in 1915 – three years before Poland regained independence after being partitioned for over a century. He lived through two World Wars which completely reshaped the country. Finally, his death came in 1990, a year after the political turn that put an end to communist Poland and gave birth to the democratic Republic of Poland that exists today.
Kantor was also an inspiring original, a person of huge temperament and an internationally successful artist. In his personal story there is no shortage of interesting episodes. For instance, in 1967 Kantor realized a complex, but rather light-hearted happening at the Baltic Sea shore entitled Panoramic Sea Happening. This famous event featured, among others, a man in a tailcoat conducting sea waves from a dais standing in the sea and a frivolous, real-life reconstruction of Théodore Géricault‘s great painting The Raft of the Medusa. The happening in question will be recalled in the film, as will be other works by the noted director. The movie has the working title of Nigdy tu już nie powrócę / I Shall Never Return (which is the name of one of Kantor’s plays), and will feature scenes showing fragments of two of his earliest plays – Balladyna and The Return of Odysseus. These spectacles were realized at underground theatrical meetings held at private apartments during World War II in German-occupied Kraków. The risk involved with staging these plays was huge – the Nazis had no mercy for those who organized theatrical performances without their permission.
Tadeusz Kantor year
I shall never return
The film will also show Kantor’s childhood in the village of Wielopole, which was a very important inspiration for his art, as well as his huge post-war international success (in the second half of the 20th century his plays were staged all around the world, from London to Mexico City to Tokyo). Parts of the film will be shot in Paris, New York and Florence – foreign cities were Kantor’s works were valued especially highly. In New York for instance the movie’s creators will film at the famous La Mama Theatre, where in 1979 Kantor’s legendary spectacle The Dead Class was performed, which Newsweek then called the best theatrical play in the world.
Born and Bred to Play the Role
The shooting of the film began this year on July 24 in Kraków. 2015, which is the 100th anniversary of Kantor’s birth and has been declared the Year of Tadeusz Kantor by UNESCO, seems to be a good time to start making a biographical movie about the theatrical legend. The film is being directed by Jan Hryniak, who has worked as a director on a few feature films and a documentary about New York’s multimedia theatre ensemble The Wooster Group. He also directed the TV series entitled Czas Honoru. Powstanie / Time of Honour. Uprising, which this year won an Orzeł, an important Polish film award, for best television feature series. Hryniak co-wrote the script for the film about Kantor with Łukasz Maciejewski and Maciej Pisuk.
The highly popular actor Borys Szyc was chosen for the role of the creator of The Dead Class. This choice has stirred some controversy as Szyc, who appeared in the 2002 Oscar-winning film The Pianist by Roman Polanski, lately has played chiefly unsophisticated film roles. His current image doesn’t obviously correspond with Kantor’s cultured legend. Nevertheless, Szyc is a very talented actor and a charismatic one too. His special charm is one of the main reasons Hryniak chose him for the part of Kantor. Hryniak needed somebody who could portray Kantor as the man he really was – an individual with an uncompromising artistic stance, unparalleled charisma and great vision. Szyc seems to be right man for the job. Additionally Szyc’s mother was one of Kantor’s students at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts, where the legendary director used to lecture. She respected Kantor greatly and frequented his plays with enthusiasm. The actor grew up listening to her complimentary stories about Kantor’s works, so it looks as if Szyc was born and bred to play the role of the theatrical legend. The movie’s cast will also include, amongst others, Patrycja Puślednik, Agnieszka Podsiadlik and Jan Frycz. Włodzimierz Pawlik, who in 2014 won a Grammy in the best large jazz ensemble album category for the record Night in Calisia, which he made together with the American trumpeter Randy Brecker, will create the music for the film. The movie’s creators are aiming for it to premiere in April 2016.
Written by Marek Kępa