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Review: Escape to the Silver Globe


- Kuba Mikurda has written a love letter to cinema, in which he evokes the atmosphere of filmmaking in 1970s Poland

Review: Escape to the Silver Globe

Kuba Mikurda, a critic-turned-director, has a very clear artistic mission: to shed light on Polish filmmakers who were better known outside of their country than locally. His previous documentary Love Express. The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk focused on the eponymous avant-garde director, and in Escape to the Silver Globe [+see also:
film profile
– which won 3 awards at the 18th Millennium Docs Against Gravity (see the news) – he turns his camera to the late Andrzej Żuławski and his magnum opus On a Silver Globe.

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Mikurda’s documentary is a cerebral and slightly romantic view of an “vision” that never fully came to life, of a filmmaker whose intense life was both a blessing and a burden. Finally, it’s the tale of a broken masterpiece, however the audience has to trust the director on that: it’s impossible to say if On a Silver Globe would be in fact a great film, worth all the extreme efforts and sacrifice made by its crew. Its production was halted in 1977 during shooting, sets were dismantled, reels stop – only by lucky coincidence was the material found a few years later and the director could finish the film. He put additional, contemporary images and, in a voice-over, explained which scenes were missing from the picture.

On a Silver Globe was meant to be a visionary science-fiction film and it was filmed when a certain George Lucas was already engaging in Star Wars. Żuławski adapted the Lunar Trilogy, a series of fantasy novels written in the first decade of the 20th century, and it was meant to be the most visionary film of its time. Mikurda presents an inspired work atmosphere by interviewing key cast and crew members and adding original footage from Żuławski’s On a Silver Globe, as well as his other films, including L’important c’est d’aimer with Romy Schneider. Additionally, Żuławski’s son, Xawery, also a director, discusses his father’s work and life, while the political and social aura of filmmaking in 1970s Poland is sketched by the likes of Krzysztof Zanussi and Janusz Zaorski. All in all, Mikurda presents a very romantic view of a filmmaker whose voice was muffled by communist Polish politicians and whose films were very personal, even if the story they told seemed to be far from it – like a tale of astronauts looking for a new world in On a Silver Globe. Escape evokes ghosts of that particular unfinished film, but also a theme that has been wandering through Polish art for the last two centuries: the motif of the noble failure, the romantic notion of the artist smothered by a powerful occupant or invader. However, what this reviewer is left with is not a story of the beloved director Żuławski, but with words of his first wife and actress Małgorzata Braunek, quoted in Mikurda’s film. Braunek filed for divorce just before Silver Globe and says here that one of the reasons for her parting ways with Żuławski was art. For him, it was everything, while for her, it was just a part of life. 

Escape to the Silver Globe was produced by Daria Maślona and Stanisław Zaborowski through Silver Frame, as well as TVP, WFDiF, DI Factory, MX35, and the Krakow Festival Office. Against Gravity is the Polish distributor, while Cats&Docs holds the international rights.

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