Roman Polanski: Shorts

Something of a tarnished brand, what with his Oscar and child-rapist-fleeing-from-justice status, Roman Polanski wasn’t always so notorious. And you can’t judge the formative work of a young artist by his future off-screen transgressions. For that reason, SIFF and the Polish Film Festival—continuing through Sunday—are offering up a selection of Polanski’s student-era shorts, made between 1958-62, long before Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby. His ability to mix innocence and malice is demonstrated in the 15-minute Two Men and the Wardrobe, where two Keatonesque clowns lug a piece of furniture out of the sea. Wandering through the streets of Lodz with their allegorical burden, these gentle, playful souls are rejected by society and finally beaten by a gang of American-style juvenile delinquents wearing plaid shirts and jeans. (Look for Polanski among them.) What does the wardrobe symbolize—perhaps the director’s Jewish ethnicity? In Communist-era Poland, Polanski is wise not to say, but it’s evident this is a place to leave. The five shorts will be accompanied live by visiting Polish avant-jazz duo SzaZa, whose Pawel Szamburski and Patryk Zakrocki employ violin, clarinet, and electronica to underscore Polanski’s brand of whimsy and cruelty. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Thu., Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m., 2010

 
comments powered by Disqus