Two acclaimed Polish documentary makers, father and son create not one, but two accounts of the same journey.
Still from Marcel Łoziński's "Father and Son on a Journey"
Two acclaimed Polish documentary makers, father and son – Marcel and Paweł Łoziński – go in front of the camera for the first time to create not one, but two accounts of the same journey. The first documentary to be released is Marcel Łoziński's Father and Son on a Journey
The idea for the car journey was put forth by Paweł, the younger Łoziński. In an old Volkswagen, the father and son embarked on a trip to France. They travelled to the grave of Marcel's mother, whose ashes he had illegally buried in a Parisian square now covered in flowers. The pair filmed the entire trip to put together a documentary. The project resulted in different accounts by the two different creators. Marcel Łoziński's Father and Son on a Journey is an outstanding film, and a love confession from father to son. The original version is the son's called Father and Son.
Sharp as a razor blade
In his film Amator / Camera Buff, Krzysztof Kieślowski made his protagonist take a good look at himself before starting to talk about the world. That's a lesson Łoziński learned a long time ago. He doesn't turn the camera around to see his reflection on the screen, but makes use of the lens to look at his relationship with his son.
The camera serves as a scalpel meant to burst open the blister of mutual grudges that built up over the years. The son asks about details regarding his parents' divorce, he criticises his father's parenting style, searching for points of reference. Paweł has many questions and although his advice is tainted by a sense of fatherly worry, he gives advice on searching for love and building relations with children. His efforts reveal an attempt to find prove of his successes as a father figure.
Although the topic of the film does come up, it's what seems to be preoccupying them the least. But cinema is an invisible protagonist in the film. Marcel and Paweł are fully aware of taking part in a documentary project. They remain conscious of the camera, behaving here and there like actors and directors. But every fake moment brings out a deeper level of truth. Their inconspicuous looks and smiles hide depth and honesty.
In Marcel Łoziński's film, he is the main character. It's the father's decision to put himself on the frontline and shoot a documentary about his relationship with his son, as a proof of love. He knows all too well that the camera can inflict pain. Instead of focusing on his resentment-filled son, he assumes his role as the accused. There is something very touching about how the director protects the second protagonist, about how the director puts himself behind the loving father.
Father and Son on a Journey is a story about family, the love and pain that passes from one generation to the next. "At the time of the first Solidarity movement, I felt like a Pole", Marcel says, "at the time when anti-Jewish manifestations were being organised, I felt like a Jew, and when I am in France I try to be French". Paweł asks "Who do you feel like you are now?" and in a simple, honest and exhaustive answer, Marcel replies: "like your father".
Archival photographs and clips from family videos recur like a nostalgic chorus. Illustrated with Bach's music, these function like a journey to a world in which one is safe without wearing masks or putting up defences. This is a place where emotions are pure and time brings out that which is most important: interpersonal connections.
In his new documentary, Łoziński managed the impossible - his film contains reflections and observations on himself without being exhibitionist. Conversations about the most difficult topics are often unfinished, interrupted after only a couple of sentences. Some barriers are hard to overcome. Pressured by his son, the older man flees the camera. Burdened by the accusations and longstanding pain, he hides for a moment.
He is not one to show emotions easily. Even when telling the story of his mother, who committed suicide, he admits, "It was the most terrible day of my life but I didn’t cry". His words are an attempt to justify his emotional reserve, which seeped into his relationship with his son. And once again, much like in Marcel's 2011 film Tonia i jej dzieci / Tonia and Her Children, Łoziński honestly talks about his own past and the pains and grudges passed on from one generation to the next.
Without the protagonist’s sense of humour, Father and Son a Journey would have been a completely different movie. Łoziński's film touches and amuses. "Do you chase after pussy?" the son asks. "Of course I do", the father answers nonchalantly answers and adds "Are you checking if your old man is still alive?". It's only one of the many dialogues they have.
Łoziński created an emotional and unpretentious movie. He approaches the task of showing himself with all his faults and love with courage, he is not afraid to show his emotions. What we see on the screen is a great film by a great director.
Marcel Łoziński (born 1940) is a pedagogue and documentary maker. Krzysztof Kiéslowski's peer and, at the same time, a filmmaker descending from a similar tradition and similar aesthetic assumptions - the only difference being that he has never abandoned documentary films. His main focus of interest lies in the everyday life of ordinary people. His film 89 mm from Europe was nominated for an Oscar in 1994.
Son of director-documentarist Marcel Łoziński, Paweł Łoziński (born 1965) is a Polish documentary director. His film Place of Birth (1992) has been awarded at international film festivals.
Father and Son a Journey premiered at the 2013 Krakow Film festival and became one of the festival favourites,
- Ojciec i syn w podróży / Father and Son on a Journey, 75', Director: Marcel Łoziński, Script and cinematography: Paweł Łoziński, Marcel Łoziński, Editing: Przemysław Chruścielewski. Poland 2013.
Author: Bartosz Staszczyszyn, translated by Marta Jazowska 30.05.2013