BLIND CHANCE (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1981)

Filmmaker and Kieślowski friend Agnieszka Holland has suggested that writer-director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Przypadek involves “the mechanics of human destiny.” The film was made in the shadow of his mother’s death earlier that year in a car crash.
     Wietold Diugosz, nicknamed Witek (Boguslaw Linda, intelligent though bland—nonetheless, best actor, Polish Film Festival), is a young medical student whose father’s ambiguous rambling, right before dying, Witek interprets as perhaps freeing him from the commitment to become a doctor that his father had imposed on him. The Earth seemingly all before him, Witek catches a train to Warsaw, where he becomes a Communist Party member, causing the police arrest of his girlfriend, an underground activist, and his own disillusionment.
     Now two alternative scenarios play out, in both of which Witek misses catching the train. In the first of these, he accosts a policeman at the station and is arrested, upon release from labor camp becomes attached to the anti-Communist underground movement and embraces Catholicism, thus forfeiting his Jewish girlfriend. In the final scenario, he returns to medical school after missing the train again to Warsaw, marries Olga, a fellow student, and as doctor tries to maintain an apolitical posture. (Attempting to juggle them, he drops apples while seated at the kitchen table.) He agrees to replace a colleague who, scheduled to give a lecture in Libya, must now attend to his activist son’s arrest. Onboard the train to catch the plane, Witek hears from Olga that she is pregnant with their second child. In long-shot we see the plane explode on take-off; the man at the airport who had asked for a light for his cigarette may have detonated a bomb. Because the film had begun with a closeup of Witek screaming, it now occurs to us that the first two scenarios may have been concocted by Witek himself, in his final split second, as alternatives to his death. Freedom, therefore, is illusory; politically, the lack of self-determination seals Witek’s—and every other Pole’s—“fate.”
     Interesting though by no means stellar (although the blowup of the plane stuns), like much Kieślowski Przypadek is largely a conversation-piece: something better to talk about than to sit through. In particular, Kieślowski is embarrassingly inept at filming (simulated) sex.
     Poland’s government suppressed the film for six years.

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