Escape from the 'Liberty' Cinema

1990

Comedy / Drama / Fantasy

0
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 531

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Reviewed by hof-4 4 / 10

The paradoxes of censorship

This movie was released in 1990 at the end of the Communist regime in Poland. The plot: Rabkiewicz is a government censor. A movie called Daybreak is being projected at the Liberty Cinema (Daybreak looks like the second part of Douglas Sirk's Magificent Obsession). Characters in Daybreak are beginning to talk to the theater audience. At first they shed their screen personae and complain about their private and professional lives (there are some laughs in the first fifteen minutes). Later, not surprisingly, they talk to Rabkiewicz making rather obvious and declamatory points about the evils of censorship, oppressive regimes etc. which provokes a rather predictable reaction of the authorities. Since this is not the stuff that could maintain your interest for the rest of the film, secondary characters are introduced that don't add much to the tale.

Obviously, screen-characters-come-to-life spells "Purple Rose of Cairo", thus Woody Allen's movie is brought into play, but it is just an add-on; it fails to connect with the plot in any significant way.

This film could have been an opportunity for an in-depth study of censorship and of one of its paradoxes; under the Communist regime Poland was a powerhouse of world cinema. This evaluation can hardly be extended to the present Polish film industry where censorship is supposedly absent. The evolution-in-reverse can be seen in the career of Poland's most famous director, Andrzej Wajda. Under Communism and attendant censorship he managed to film masterpieces like Kanal (1957), Ashes and Diamonds (1958), Landscape after Battle (1970), Man of Marble (1977) and Man of Iron (1981), the last two not particularly complimentary about the regime. Under freedom and democracy Wajda ended up pandering to broad tasteless comedy and/or crude nationalism as in The Revenge (2002) and Pan Tadeusz (1999). Another case in point is Wojciech Marczewski, the director of this movie, whose works Zmory (1979) and Dreszcze (1981) are far superior. Perhaps, the restrictions generated by the profit motive are a powerful censorship too.

Reviewed by tenshi_ippikiookami 6 / 10

Censorship, freedom, creativity and control

"Ucieczka z kina 'Wolnosc'" is a very blatant critic to the 'parent' system that decides to control everything, from freedom of speech, to art, through a story that plays with breaking the fourth wall... inside the movie.

"Escape from the 'Liberty' Cinema" (in its translated English title) goes around a censor that is a little bit tired of everything. Suddenly he finds himself in a little bit of a hole when the characters of a movie that had been approved by the censors and allowed to be shown on cinemas take a life of their own and rebel, just chatting around instead of continuing with the plot. Our censor goes to the cinema, and suddenly, the characters seem to take a special interest in him.

Cue not very subtle critic of censorship, control, the lack of freedom in some societies (in this case the 80s Poland) and the need for art and creativity to be free, critical and a thorn in the side of any system.

It all does for an interesting movie, with good acting, gloomy atmosphere and not very original but good ideas. However the pace is a little bit slow, and the movie, even if it lasts less than one hour and a half, feels a little bit longer than that. Close to the end, things get more rhythm and the psychological part gains weight, which gives more gravitas to the film.

If you like your film with some tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink moments, and a critique of the status quo, you will enjoy this one.

Reviewed by Maciej Piotrowski 10 / 10

1 of the best Polish movies...Ever!

This is something of a forgotten diamond, even in Poland, not many people have seen it. The director, Wojciech Marczewski, has been more active educating young directors (most of Scandinavian 90's new wave guys learned from him in Danish Film School) than film-making lately, and it's a real shame.

Most movies you see are easy to classify. "Escape..." not only is a film you can't really put your finger on, it works on all the levels it tries to achieve. For starters, I think it perfectly describes life in Poland around 80's. With the communist regime still ruling, ordinary people desperately searching for freedom or just trying to float by. Main character's (played brilliantly by 1 of best Polish actors, Janusz Gajos) doubts over his job as a censor echo the tough choices most people had to make at the time.

Then, we get the fantasy part - actors take over a movie doing what they wish on the screen, much to the delight of the audiences rebellious mood, while ordinary people start singing opera completely out of the blue. The questions of artist's responsibility and the role of art in every day life is presented with great power here, and the threat of the film being burned by authorities adds to the drama and the weight of the questions.

The comedy element (the scene around the beginning when secretary tells the boss the actors have rebelled, and he goes mental is one of my favorite scenes ever. In fact, I'll go an watch it again in a minute) is strong as well, helped by a superb cast of supporting actors, and sharp dialog. Marczewski found a great comedy idea in crossing the rebel movie with Allen's "Purple Rose of Cairo" and used it well.

It would be enough for most movies, and their directors, but Marczewski wasn't done. He added a bit of pondering about a philosophical problem of sin with some links to Dostoyevski and Shakespeare's works on the subject. In fact, the guy haunting the main character is recognized as "Raskolnikov" (the main character of Dostoyevski's "Crime and Punishment") in the final credits.

All these elements are tied together and balanced with magical directing and rather surprisingly the movie is not overwhelming or too long. Even if you fail to notice all the aspects of this great work, you'll still have a wonderful time and leave inspired if not completely shaken up.

There are not even ten Polish movies I would rate 10 out of 10. However, this is 1 of them.

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