Old 08-23-2009, 02:47 PM
Krzysztof Zanussi's A Year of the Quiet Sun

A Year of the Quiet Sun (1984)

Krzysztof Zanussi's "A Year of the Quiet Sun" is a simple story of a romance between two people who love each other very much, but it is not any ordinary romance. Their relationship has a language barrier between them, yet they never allow it to stop them from expressing themselves; their feelings simply do not require words.

The story opens in Poland in 1946 as Emilia (Maja Komorowska) and her mother (Hanna Skarzanka) are returning home after being displaced by World War II. An American officer stationed there, Norman (Scott Wilson), meets Emilia on the side of the road where she is painting a picture and becomes infatuated with her. He finds where she lives and begins visiting her regularly. It doesn't matter that she speaks Polish and barely any English or he speaks English and no Polish, their romance blossoms.

They contact a guide through Emilia's neighbor, Stella (Ewa Dalkowska), a prostitute. This contact agrees to take both Emilia and her mother across the border so that they can meet up with Norman in Berlin. However, there is a complication in that Emilia's mother is injured in the leg and would not be able to make the journey without great risk.

What was most striking about this film was indeed the relationship between Emilia and Norman that required no words to begin. Maja Komorowska's and Scott Wilson's performances are simple but very effective in expressing those feelings that they can't put words to. Perhaps it was merely the presence of a friendly face in Emilia's and her mother's life that made him a welcome guest in their home.

The conditions shown in Poland throughout are also particularly effective. Food is rationed with people lined up just to get one of the cakes that Emilia has a job baking. Whole buildings are still left destroyed with no signs of being repaired soon. Things seem really bad, and yet, Emilia finds it difficult to agree to leave after finally getting the chance to return home from being displaced by the war.

What I had a bit of a problem with were the events around the end of the second act and the third act. They still work alright as a believable way that this story could proceed and conclude, but it just felt as though there was no reason that the events had to happen the way they did.

When it came to these final events, it seemed as though no one was thinking very hard about how to resolve the situation so that everyone could make it across the border and live happily. This is just speculation, but it seemed like Norman could have done something to get them out of the country safely or arranged something through the military to allow them to leave with him. If none of that had worked out, then there were certainly other things that could have been done that could have prevented some rash actions from taking place.

It also felt as though there were two endings to the film: one that leaves the conclusion more ambiguous and one that is meant to give hope to the viewer that everything will work out alright. The first ending, though quite depressing, would have probably worked better, especially after seeing the events of the second ending.

The second ending jumps forward 18 years. We're supposed to believe that it has taken all this time for the events in this second ending to happen, which is obviously not very believable. However, this second ending is good for its final scene, which gives that glimmer of hope that I mentioned earlier. This scene is a mere fantasy, but perfectly shows what we have been witnessing all along.

Luckily, the effectiveness of the relationship between Norman and Emilia outweighs these complaints. This is their story and they make it compelling and engaging enough to make us care about them and where they end up. It becomes a complete surprise that such a touching romance could blossom amid such turbulent times. 3/4 stars.
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump