The documentary filmmakers Marcel and Paweł Łoziński are father and son. Their films Father and Son on a Journey and Father and Son are two differently edited documentaries of the same journey. In the former Marcel, the father, attempts to dissolve mutual grudges that built up over the years; in the latter Paweł, the son, talks about a never-ending journey, the father-son relationship and a love that can bless and harm
A trip from Poland to France led to the making of two almost identical yet entirely different films. Although it came out later, Paweł's Father and Son was created first. After Paweł edited his film, Marcel, his father, re-edited it and created a second documentary Father and Son on a Journey. This second version of the events was first to premiere. Despite how different they are, the films have one main thing in common - they are both grand works.
A love full of thorns
First to be screened, Marcel Łoziński's Father and Son on a Journey - a beautiful, moving picture about fatherly love - premiered at the 53rd Kraków Film Festival, one of Europe’s most important and oldest festivals dedicated to documentaries and short films. The viewing of the younger filmmaker's version makes it evident that Father and Son on a Journey wasn't entire faithful to the truth. Marcel Łoziński photoshopped the picture, absolved himself, hoping that to find a justification for his fatherly "guilts" from the past.
The son's film is more ruthless. Paweł Łoziński asks questions about his past, the harm he was inflicted with by a beloved person, the father's irresponsibility, manipulations and disappointment. There are no correct answers to these questions. Rather, there is a desperate attempt to justify oneself and the mutual relation. "I hope we will come back in the same state as when we are leaving in", Paweł Łoziński says in one of the first scenes. They came back divided, with open wounds and unfinished conversations.
It would seem as though there can only be one real version of the two very different films. Nevertheless, both are real, each in a different way. Father and Son on a Journey is a story about deep feelings, not biographical facts - a father's love, confession, maybe even an apology. Father and Son, on the other hand, is a story about a love that by the laws of its nature inflicts harm. One cannot doubt even for a second that both protagonists love each other very much. At the same they don't know how not to harm each other. In one scene, the father says "Life, my dear sir" – words that can sum up nearly any part of both films.
Father and Son is not a collection of reproaches, it is a mature look at one's life - a life in which love was always accompanied by pain. After all, the harm that the protagonists cause each other doesn't render their love invalid. But kind words cannot undo the harm either. It may not be glamorous, but this is the face of truth, a truth that is universal.
The film dives back into childhood years. This is where Paweł, the fortysomething filmmaker, finds the source of his unrest. He reminisces about the lack of feeling of security, his parents' divorce, his father's irresponsibility. The father talks about his parenting: "It was an experiment, that in my opinion wasn't entirely successful, and I try not to repeat it". The childhood memories bring up grievances that were swept under the rug and feelings of helplessness. The father talks about his childhood: of spending part of it in an orphanage, his difficult relationship with his mother, the lack of tenderness, the deaths of his parents. He searches for justifications for his mistakes and also asks about his success as a father.
One of the last scenes, part of both films, is crucial. Marcel Łoziński appears on an old photograph standing on his head on the beach, Paweł, a young boy is standing beside him trying to help him to stay up. The scene is cut. The now 73-year-old Marcel can no longer stand on his head, but Paweł can. The father runs up to the son and tries to help him keep his balance. The humorous scene has symbolic value. The father, who for many years found support in his son, today tries to be his support. But some things cannot be reconstructed just like that.
Watched together, the Łoziński's films create a universal story about the love between parents and children, about the pain that is carried on from one generation to the next - as well as a story about cinema. Father and Son and Father and Son on a Journey show how the same scenes can tell two different stories. Differently assembled sequences, a couple of different scenes make for a completely different narration.
The Łoziński's experiment attracted attention even before it was made. There was much talk about the cinematic portraits of the acclaimed directors before its premier. Marcel and Paweł Łoziński's documentaries do not disappoint. Without a doubt, both films are outstanding. But today, Father and Son seems a bit more realistic.
- Ojciec i Syn / Father and Son. Directing: Paweł Łoziński, Script and cinematography: Paweł Łoziński, Marcel Łoziński, Editing: Przemysław Chruścielewski, Dorota Wardęszkiewicz. Poland 2013.
Author: Bartosz Staszczyszyn for culture.pl, translated by MJ 04.06.2013