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Between Dream and Reality: «The Saragossa Manuscript»

An Analysis of Wojciech Jerzy Has’s Movie

Series:

Iwona Grodź

The book features a detailed analysis and interpretation of «The Saragossa Manuscript» (1964) by Wojciech Jerzy Has. The interpretative key is the director’s reference to the aesthetics of various art trends, starting with baroque, through romanticism, symbolism, surrealism and the culture of Orient. The artistic references named here which to a high degree can be brought down to quotations and hints (the composition of stop-frames referring to the style of a given painter or an art trend) are to a large extent the consequence of having been adapted by a particular novel (Jan Potocki). Notwithstanding, also this time Has stigmatised the project with his own style by referring to the aesthetics of surrealism which was alien to the literary prototype.

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3 Script and Shooting Script

Extract

In the film’s script, Tadeusz Kwiatkowski and Wojciech Has strove to preserve the features of narration characteristic of Jan Potocki, similar to Arabian Nights and to Bocaccio’s tale. It was also important, especially for the film director and “a believer in the image”, to recreate the Chinese box composition of the text in the film. Therefore, preceding the film’s appearance on the big screen, the creator of Pętla [The Loop] announced: “it shall not be expected that the plot of this image be traditional”. Has proposed to his viewers, “who he sensed were bored with the traditional forms of narration”, something new. He succeeded unquestionably.

Simultaneously, he emphasised his tremendous awareness of The Manuscript’s composition. Interviewed by Barbara Kaźmierczak, he said: “Towards the end of part one there is a deliberate slowdown in action. This allows for the introduction of new matters, new plots”59.

The film’s communicativeness was of great importance to the director who wished for real contact with the audience. He would say: “I would like Saragossa to win the top prize – the spectator! (…) I am of the opinion that you can make films in which both your own ambitions and the contact with the audience are preserved”60.



Fig. 1:Avadoro from The Manuscript Found in Saragossa (1964) – the project by Lidia and Jerzy Skarżyńscy. Source: From the collections of the Museum of Cinematography in Łódź

Paradoxically – despite the fact that his...

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