Andrzej Munk unfortunately died before work on what would ultimately be his final film, Pasazerka, was completed. Nevertheless, the film was pieced together posthumously as a fitting tribute to the man and his body of work. The film indeed opens with a dedication and explanation of the intent behind showing the unfinished film in its incomplete form, and the film itself uses still images to cover whatever ground the filmed segments didn’t manage to. One wonders how they covered the film with stills when supposedly these were segments that were never filled, but that is a question for others to ponder.
Right away, the first thing that sticks out for me is the unbelievably serious nature the film is shot in. The film is so starkly chiaroscuro that it redefines the usage of the term “black and white”. The cinematography is also very stern and rigid, even when the camera is in motion, and the composition along with the mood creates an extremely disquieted tone throughout the entire film. The whole experience, especially with the pervasive silence and sparse foley effects, puts even a Bergman film to shame. As for the plot, this is another Holocaust film, one that deals with the terse and subtle relationship between a female SS officer and an Auschwitz inmate. Schindler’s List would seem to clearly take this film as one of its inspirations.
The film’s incomplete nature is very evident; the story doesn’t hold itself together all that well, and there seem to be many pieces of the narrative missing. Still, as a sensory experience, this holds up well enough to be considered among other works of its kind. I don’t know much about Andrzej Munk, or his career, so I can’t say whether or not he had a good enough run of films to warrant representation of some kind on the list, but this seems to be a decent selection if this is indeed the case. I don’t know how to recommend this one, either, as it is much more of an incomplete film than other half-finished projects that appear on the list. It’s at the very least short, so there’s that going for it, and the very stark style is certainly something to remember the film by.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10