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  • AutorenbildLars Henriks

Mysterium Pictorum 05 - Spokoj / The Calm

Listen to our full discussion of this rough jewel on our new podcast series Mysterium Pictorum! Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and everywhere else, too!

In an abandoned underground city at the Spanish coast, near Malaga, I found a USB stick containing 300 random movies from arthouse to weird, from obscure to notorious. Now, in Lockdown, it is time to watch and discuss them all in an international podcast project. Two Turks and a German, two filmmakers and a mystery man - Welcome to Mysterium Pictorum!


Social Realism reminds me a lot of Mumblecore. The documentary feel, the everyday stories, the meandering - It's like Mumblecore was the Social Realism of the 2000's. The obvious difference is, of course, the fact that Social Realism was interested in the individual in / as affected by society, while Mumblecore was exclusively interested in the individual. Joe Swanberg jerking off in the shower in his first feature film illustrates the "Mumblecore"-principle perfectly. Spokoj is a great example of why Social Realism is superior - Precisely because of its roughness, that made it feel so much like Mumblecore to me. Kieslowski has said, Spokoj is about how in Communist Poland, you can't get what you want - Even if you just want the "socialist dream" of a wife and a TV. The hostility towards the notion of desiring something "greater" than a quiet life shapes European societies to this day, so I really love this message of "Well, they won't even let you have THAT!". We see a more or less hapless protagonist stumbling through awkward social situations after being released from prison, in a way that feels like documentary - much like in a Mumblecore film, but all these situations amount to something. Social Realist films often feel meandering in the beginning, but it mostly falls into place to form a message towards the end, while Mumblecore films just meander. His apparent, crippling insecurity when it comes to sex, only being able to get an erection when he's fucking a virgin who doesn't really want to, while he can't get it up when women throw themselves at him willingly (which every woman in the film does, since the lead actor co-wrote the screenplay) makes for a great second topic, which I'm not entirely sure the filmmakers were completely aware of in its implications. We see a simple but very well-rounded character with edges and major flaws enter a hopeless situation, trapped between is colleagues and his corrupt boss, trying to please everyone in a tense situation that leads to a strike, ultimately being the one punished to most. He tries to do everything right and still has to suffer. Visually, too, Sokoj shows an ugly, depressing Poland full of ugly, depressed people, following their ugly, depressive habits. But there's humor here, too. There's fun to be had and lessons to be learned. That fact that "Spokoj" was censored and not released for five years sent me down a rabbit-hole on the history of strikes and unification in Poland and I feel much more informed now. Watching films from places and times I don't know much about always feels very educational and rewarding to me. Watch Spokoj! It's good! And listen to our podcast discussion in it! It's really good, too!

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