Friday, 6 September 2013

About chance and destiny: "Przypadek" [1987 Poland]

Krzysztof Kieslowski's masterful "Przypadek" [Eng. Title: Blind Chance] makes a philosophical and metaphysical argument for the part random chance can play in shaping a man's destiny. It adds an additional layer to the commonly used expression "if only..." by showing the viewer three versions of a person's life, after altering the outcome of one event he's involved in. You may have come across a similar premise in another film, but Blind Chance is not only one of the earliest such examples, it is also one of the most eloquent, well-crafted, and thought provoking discourses articulated on the theme using the language of cinema - one that truly pushes the boundaries and enhances the scope of what talking pictures can achieve.

We see central character Witek's life and fortunes drastically change, based on three different scenarios arising out of his attempt to catch a train - when he succeeds to board the train after giving it a chase, when he doesn't succeed despite the chase and gets into a fight with the station guard instead, and finally when he misses the train again, but bumps into a female friend from his medical college. Witek, with the same morals, idealism, and sensitivity, becomes a different person in each scenario - he joins the system and the communist party in the first, he turns to religion and underground politics in the second, and he leads a comfortable and conventional family life after eschewing politics altogether in the third scenario.

The events can either be interpreted as Witek's flashbacks, imagined events that are yet to take place, or vignettes of premonitions even, but all three scenarios will lead him to fly to Paris, in which he will never succeed due to different factors. Kieslowski, while not readily drawing conclusions on the idea of fate, clearly ponders à la Buñuel in Le fantôme de la liberté, whether we are truly at liberty to chart our own destiny. He wills his protagonist to believe in his choice, and is ultimately as disappointed as Witek to learn otherwise. I suspect that it is this explosive - disillusioned message, that forced Polish censors to prevent its release. Made in 1981, it didn't see the light of day until 1987.

But the film also delves into metaphysical elements of life and death. Events come full-circle after each scenario, through the airport (presumably the final destination), only to start again from where it began. Chance and destiny will become a recurring theme in Kieslowski's work from here on, reverberating in future films such as Krótki film o zabijaniu, and La Double Vie de Véronique. Boguslaw Linda gives an excellent interpretation of the anguished Witek, and his engaging presence contributes in no small measure to the film's accessibility. The masterpiece from Kieslowski is a must-see for any fan of pure cinema, and Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link [PAL] | Amazon DVD Link [NTSC] - Recommended


The Nudity: Boguslawa Pawelec and Monika Gozdzik
There are five scenes containing nudity - the first two are from the first scenario during which Witek has a relationship with underground political activist Czuszka - played by Boguslawa Pawelec. The rest are from the third scenario, when Witek falls in love and marries fellow student Olga - played by Monika Gozdzik.

Boguslawa Pawelec and Monika Gozdzik nude in Przypadek aka Blind Chance


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