CLICK HERE and Watch More Thriller Movies for FREE!
MURDER (Morderstwo 1957)
The first student short Polanski made during his years at the State Film School in Poland features one of the directorís favorite themes. It is a film in Black & White emulsion that bears a clever use of the camera and the actors, it fairly presents the shortís story in three shots that can be compared with the classic three act structure that work perfectly. Film opens with a doorknob that twists to let the door open and in comes the predator, a big man whoís face we arenít allowed to see; with a panning we discover that another man lies over a bed. Next thing we know is that the man takes a small knifes and pierces with it on the naked manís chest. Then we see the man at the bed dead and bleeding from the punctured chest and the murdererís face is revealed as he walks out of the place and shuts the door as he finds his way out.
TEETH SMILE (Vsmiech Zebiczny 1957)
Open to discover a stairway, a man comes down and while he is on his way down, something grabs his attention. He comes closer to a window nearby and finds out that it has a view to a bathroom. Inside, a woman is drying her hair with a towel as she stands naked in the bathroom. The man smiles giving into his voyeur instincts and devours the woman with his eyes. In a second, he is suddenly distracted by another man, apparently the womanís husband, who arrives at home. As the voyeur realizes this, he continues to walk down the stairs, but as soon as the man enters his house, the man comes up and approaches the window again, only that this time there is a man brushing his teeth who smiles as he looks back at the man at the window. Thus, the man decides to simply walk away.
This short is said to be made as homework.
BREAK UP THE DANCE (Rozbijemy Zabawe 1957)
This little treat is supposed to be shot as a tongue in cheek homage to cinema veritŤ (a growing trend those days), it opens with a man who hangs strange lamps at a garden, camera zooms out and we discover that there are also other men helping as they are arranging the place for a party, they even hang a big doll. There is a tiny shot in which we see a homage to a very classic gag that was first created in the cinemaís silent era. We then cut to see a manís hands breaking the tickets of the newcomers at the ballroom. The music is heard as the couples come into the dancing grounds.
The door is then locked as all people is dancing, as the doorkeeper is about to enter the place, a gang of hooligans comes in, they ask to be let in. The doorkeeper ignores them.Inside, nice people is having a ball! Everyone dances or drinks, smiles, laughs and even flirts. Musicians, students, dancing couples and a very famous tune is about to be disturbed as the hooligans plan to get inside no matter what, they just climb up the door and jump into the dancing grounds. As soon as they find the doorkeeper, they call him out of the crowd and then beat him up and tear his clothes into rags. The whole place is turned upside down as the fight heats up.At the end the place is ruined and empty, and the doll floats lonely over the water.
TWO MEN AND A WARDROBE (Dwaj Iudzie z szafa 1958)
First shot to be screened outside the film school. It was also the first one to receive awards as it achieved five awards in Brussels, San Francisco and Oberhausen.
The film presents the credits over a shot of the sea as two men come out from it carrying what is soon to be known as a wardrobe. The two men dry themselves and dance graciously as to celebrate their arrival.
They are then seen trying to get the wardrobe into the train, but they canít manage to do so. As they keep moving, they find a beautiful girl and try to get her attention but fail to do so and must keep on their way. Briefly, they get inside restaurant and try to get some service, but they are soon taken out from the place because of the wardrobe.
The whole short is about these guys trying to get a place where they can go into without leaving the wardrobe behind.
We then discover that Polanski himself is part of a gang who try to harass the beautiful girl as she walks on the street. The men with the wardrobe happen to be passing by and try to defend the girl from the gang, but end up being beaten up, one of them is brought to the floor by Roman, who fists the guy down and then leaves with his friends.
Even after being beaten up, the two men keep on walking trying to find a place and end up resting in what appears to be a wasteland. As they rest, a policeman comes by and beats them out of the place.
After many turns, the men return to the shore, and decide to make their way back to where they came from.An entertaining piece thatís still fun to watch.
THE LAMP (Lampa 1959)
This short opens to the store of a doll maker who happens to be occupied with his labors.
It is expressionist, surrealist and full of craft. Itís a trip inside the doll makerís studio. We see him work on the dolls, he puts the eyes in their sockets and then places the wig over the headís void to finish the doll.
He then goes and works on placing and rigging a lamp for him to keep on with is work.
As the lamp is turned on, the time inside the place seems to stop.
Then the true magic of the cinema comes in as the man closes the shop at night and leaves towards his home to rest. The dolls apparently ďtalkĒ in surreal imagery as we travel through the shelves to find out that something strange is about to happen as the radio starts emitting noises and ends up in flames, burning down the dolls inside the store- outside, the rain stops the people from noticing the fire.
WHEN ANGELS FALL (Gdy Spadaja Anloly 1959)
As we fly over a maquette in the first shots of this short, I canít do but keep wondering if this shot was what Roman had in mind when he did the titles for Rosemaryís Baby. Anyway, this short tells the story of an attendant, a very old one by the way, who has the hability to forsee things. As the people comes in she has visions (in color Ė the rest of the story is in B & W).
Itís sort of an epic short, because of all the places we get to see in the old womanís visions. There is even war.
This film was Roman Polanskiís Thesis film, it is a bit odd, but it is because of the fact that we arenít really told that the woman has visions.
Crafted carefully, this film shows the growing potential of the soon to be one of the greatest filmmakers of all times. What is supposed to be reality gets fleshed with an overall fairy tale feeling (that might be reinterpreted again in the film mention above.
It does have many surreal moments and sketches, but it also has some brief thoughts about war and the language barriers. It has some wonderful moving shots that werenít really present before on Polanskiís work, the remarkable style in the photography shows the power in his vision and his skills as a director and creator.
THE FAT AND THE LEAN (Le Gros et le Maigre 1961)
Short time after film school, Polanski directed and composer Kryztof Komeda (who worked also in Two men and a wardrobe) and who years later did the score for Rosemaryís Baby. Jean Pierre Rousseau co-directs as Polanski stars in the film as a man who lives to entertain, attend and feed a fat man.
MAMMALS (Ssaki 1962)
This short was awarded at Oberhausen and Melbourne, it is also the last short filmed by Polanski, his next film was in feature.This short opens with graphic titles in black fonts over white background and then fades to an open shot of a man running as he pulls another man who is sitting over a sledge.
It has an older film look as the image flickers all the time but it helps in creating this silent film feeling that is clearly the intention of the artistic use of cinematography.
As in The Fat and the Lean, the short presents the story in a cycle of vignettes, in between farce and sketch, the relationship between the two men is presented alongside a very jazzy soundtrack.
All of the shorts are available in the ROMAN POLANSKI: The Short Films DVD published inside the Criterion Collection.