Feature film directed by Jan Jakub Kolski, 1993. Johnie Aquarius leaves his pregnant wife despite the fact that this might destroy their love...
A wandering beggar, traveling along a dirt road, happens upon a battered, dying mare. Someone has clearly driven this horse off and condemned it to death. The old man throws a curse upon the nearby village: "Because you have condemned this wonderful mare, may the devil be born among you." The village is home to Johnnie, who has the unusual power of controlling water so that it defies gravity. He aims to use his power to cure people of various ailments. He sets out into the world, leaving his pregnant wife at home. His chosen mission proves to be a very profitable occupation. Johnnie wanders around the countryside treating people in exchange for money. He wins fame, but unfortunately this renders him proud. He partakes of life in full. Along his path, he encounters Stigma, a wandering juggler who pretends to be a stigmatic. They embark on their travels together. The wandering old man appears at the home of Veronica, Johnnie's wife, and predicts her husband's return. Veronica then gives birth to the child in solitude...
Johnnie, in an effort to fulfill his calling for curing people, has abandoned his home and his young, pregnant wife. He has left her in spite of the fact that this might destroy their love. He is unaware of the risks, because he is obsessed with fulfilling his calling completely. He treats his mission with naïve seriousness and purity. Stigma, the juggler he encounters on his travels, appears to be Johnnie's shadow, a reflection of his worse, clownish side. He also seems to herald Johnnie's betrayal of his destiny. In the end, success changes Johnnie and he forgets his obligations. The punishment he is forced to endure seems justified, measured as it is against his own, personal guilt.
There is another possible interpretation of his downfall, introduced by the wandering old man in the first scene of the film. It is this old beggar, almost a divine oracle, who foresees the chain of events. He witnessed the sin for which the village community was responsible. (...) Johnnie's son comes into the world with a devil's tail. The sin of another man, Socha who drove off his mare, like all bad deeds expanded the evil of the world and brought blind retaliation - retaliation that this time was directed at Johnnie. Another man's sin has caused Johnnie to betray his destiny. When the community sanctioned one individual sin, it admitted ethical relativism and the destruction of established values. Sooner or later, it had to receive its just reward. At the beginning of the film Johnnie actually reflects upon Socha's guilt but does nothing to oppose his sin. His awareness of this sin nevertheless represents a chance at redemption. Time cannot be reversed, each must live out their biography, bear their guilt. And each person must assume responsibility for their own sins just as they must assume their share of the responsibility for the sins of others in their community. Johnnie, cleansed and returned to life, visits Socha before going anywhere else. He persuades him of his guilt and immediately afterwards grants him forgiveness. Johnnie then returns home and sits down to a meal with Veronica and their devil-tailed son. Having accepted all that has happened, he is able to begin life anew.
"Kolski has created a folk tale world in which the naivety of a lithograph exists side by side with a healthy dose of irony. At the same time, he has allowed his actors to create full-bodied characters by writing delicious, concise and rich dialogues for them. Let me quote one that I liked especially. After hardly receiving a warm welcome upon his return, Johnnie asks Veronica if she would ask him again to disfigure her in order to ensure her fidelity if he were to want to leave home again. She answers him indirectly: 'Do you see our stove, Johnnie? Look, the fire has gone out. You haven't added wood, Johnnie, because you thought that I'm the only one fit for that job.' " (Tadeusz Lubelski, "Kino")
- Jańcio Wodnik / Johnnie Aquarius, Poland, 1993. Written and directed by Jan Jakub Kolski. Director of photography: Piotr Lenar. Muzyka: Zygmunt Konieczny. Production designer: Tadeusz Kosarewicz. Costumes by: Beata Olszewska. Featuring: Franciszek Pieczka (Jancio Wodnik), Grazyna Blecka-Kolska (Weronika), Bogusław Linda (Stygma), Olgierd Łukaszewicz (Dziad / Old Wanderer), Katarzyna Aleksandrowicz (Oczyszczona / The Cleansed Woman), Lech Gwit (Socha). Production: Telewizja Polska. Color, 35 mm. Time: 100'.
- 1993 - 18th Festival Of Polish Feature Films,Gdynia - Special Jury Prize, Best Actor in a Starring Role for Franciszek Pieczka, Journalists' Award
- International Film Festival of The Baltic Countries, Kaliningrad - Best Actor Award for Franciszek Pieczka
- Festival of Young Eastern European Cinema, Cottbus - Grand Prix and Honorary Award
- Forum Festival, Bratislava - Slovakian Association of Film Critics Award
- Lubuskie Lato Filmowe / Lubuskie Film Summer, Łagów - Srebrne Grono / Silver Grapes Award (ex aequo)
- International Festival Of Slavic and Orthodox Church Films, Moscow - Best Film and Best Actor for Franciszek Pieczka