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This presentation is a response to a remark of a disgruntled viewer that the films directed by the outstanding Polish filmmaker Wojciech Jerzy Has (1925 – 2000) actually constitute one and the same movie. Paradoxically, this condescending and shallow observation captures precisely the neo – baroque morphogenesis of Has’s cinema.
To cinema cognoscenti Wojciech Jerzy Has, trained originally as a painter, has been familiar since the 1960s as the director of the esoteric, black and white, Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie (Saragossa Manuscript,1965) and the intriguing color film Sanatorium pod klepsydrą (The Hour – Glass Sanatorium, 1973), an adaptation of short stories by a Polish – Jewish writer Bruno Schulz. Indeed, all Has’s feature films are adaptations of novels by Polish, Scottish and French writers. The director’s neo – baroque films provide a site for his cultural polemic with the writers hailing from various cultural backgrounds.
I explore the enfolding continuum of all Has’s films as a neo – baroque cinematic artifice: a Wunderkammer – like labyrinthine junkyard situated at a crossroads of Modernity’s looping spatial and temporal paths; an arch – fold which runs from linguistic expression through visual complexity of the cinematic montage to the rich materiality of reality, from the title of Has’s first film Pętla (Loop/Noose1957), to the images of gigantic sea – shells in the end of his last movie Niezwykła podróż Baltazara Kobera (The Tribulations of Balthasar Kober, 1988)
How Wojciech Jerzy Has connects in his films the theatricality inherent in the neo – baroque experience with its fundamental exaltation of otherness is best understood through the lens of Christine Buci – Gluksmann’s “baroque reason”. The director employs neo – baroque as an “anti – proprietary expression” invoked by Monika Kaup and C.A. Salgado’s neo – baroque’s conciliatory capacity inherent in the assimilation of marginalized influences by the discourse of the center.