Bold, sweeping, studded with hallucinatory imagery, Na srebrnym globie, from Poland, begins in a post-apocalyptic world. Seeking freedom and the rush of a start-over, astronauts land on the moon and procreate like wild fire, creating a new race that is eventually oppressed by huge one-eyed bird-monsters called Shernes. But time is a riddle here (one character remarks, “You would not look for me had you not found me”), and new experience seems to be settling into familiar patterns. There is a dip into what appears to be our own present, to reach which one man, the last survivor among the original astronauts, finds himself worshipped as a reluctant god; eventually, a Messiah’s arrival is eagerly awaited. “Oh, when will they ever learn,/ Oh, when will they ever learn?”
Writer-director Andrzej Żuławski, adapting the first two volumes of Grand-uncle Jerzy Żuławski’s The Lunar Trilogy begun in 1901, called the result “a broken thing.” Official interference halted the production begun in 1976 and destroyed footage, costumes, sets; accompanied by Żuławski’s voiceover, a version impossible to follow—one suspects this isn’t entirely due to the production’s troubled history—emerged in 1988.
The suppression of nearly all color in this color film creates a pervasive visual metaphor for two lines of oppression: the internalization of Christian myth dooming human experience to repeat it and hence never to be “reborn”; totalitarianism. Primitivism’s rebirth, such as with the worship of fire (orange punctuates the near black and beige), is painfully wishful and headed for the high rectal impalings that leave victims’ intestines exposed and dangling. The savagery of such imagery, coupled with the fierce irony of “free,” extended camera movements, locks the viewer into a vision that gives highest priority to advancing and preserving civilization here on Earth.
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