Friday, October 19, 2012

Ekran: Roza By Any Other Name

The upcoming 4th Annual Ekran Polish Film Festival is taking place in Toronto, during the week of October 25-28th. In honour of celebrating Poland’s cinematic achievements, I was given access to many of these films for review.

I must say that I’ve taken a few days to gain back my emotional composure after watching Roza, directed by Wojciech Smarzowski and written by Michal Szczerbic.

I am deeply touched by many films that I’ve seen over the years, especially ones that involve sacrifice, tragedy and the all encompassing subject of love, but this particular film was one that you really need to view, so you can understand why I needed time to settle my soul.

The world was changed by WWII and although some may not have lived through it or experienced it first hand, the raw exposure you see in the opening sequence is horrifying through any eyes. The film revolves around two main characters, Roza, who is a Masurian peasant, and Tadeusz, a former AK soldier, who develop a bond, more so a love for each other, that tests their strength in every imaginable way.The film is slow-paced and you truly get to delve inside the sadness of both characters, and at times, feel the happiness when life seemed bearable. The courage that Roza has to not be chased out of her own home is unbelievable. The vivid brutality is hard to watch, as you know that the beatings suffered felt so real, and not one you could actually laugh and say was ketchup-induced. Nothing is overly dramatic, but the cinematography brilliantly captured by Piotr Sobocinski Jr is superb. The commitment of acting ability in each and every scene is very evident as well and makes it hard to even turn away.

I will spoil what you probably already know because I feel it’s important to mention. Roza dies. You want to cheer for someone breaking the rules and risking their own life though to help, even if that meant sworn secrecy. Her daughter (who lives in the attic) becomes a pivotal part of the film, as she is the first one to inject medicine into Roza, to help with the suffering. Together, she and Tadeusz experience a joyful day with Roza on the lake fishing, and it feels as if they are a real family. As the film goes on, we realize that Roza’s death is one that is heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time. As her body rests in a wooden coffin, the windows are opened to allow her soul to fly away.

Another journey is now paved out for Tadeusz, and fate deals him the cruellest hand, as he endures the torture that mankind was capable back then. I state “man”kind simply for the fact that his suffering was at the hands of men… men who are vile, disgusting beasts who are brainwashed into a world of hatred.

The ending of Roza brings you to tears. Some may not see it as a happy ending at all. However, given the circumstances, it’s more than what someone could ask for.