"There's a purified aura of beauty..."
Robert Koehler
Źródło: Variety 2002, 24 luty


When it isn't exciting the eye with its precise, painterly imagery, Lech Majewski's "Angelus" amuses in a dry, absurdist fashion in its concoction, loosely based on a true story, of a symbolic fable about the fate of Poland in the 20th century. Ultimately too artful for its own sake, pic also exhausts its political, religious and aesthetic allusions long before the finale. Viewers will find their own connections, but pic's primary target is a strictly Polish audience. Beyond that, a healthy global fest tour is well under way.

The script by Bronislaw Maj, Majewski and Ireneusz Siwinski is grounded in the case history of a mysterious occult group founded in Poland's Silesia region in the '30s, the so-called "Circle of Janow,'' named for the mining town where the group emerged. In "Angelus,'' the circle is formed by Teofil (Jan Siodlaczek), a self-proclaimed "master'' whose visions of the future and belief that "light is more important than food'' has attracted seven men who paint during the day and meet in a secret hiding place.

Teofil correctly predicts "The Great War", featuring a comic book version of Hitler (Tadeusz Plawecki), and "The Red Plague", with an equally absurd Stalin (Jan Bogdal).

It's Teofil's last major vision - of a killer space ray delivered from Saturn to destroy Earth - that suggests a bit of madness has infiltrated the cult. Though some of the group's domestic episodes contain amusement, the film's sense of comedy is eventually too dry.

A young narrator (Dominik Szewczyk) emerges as a kind of new messianic figure for the circle or, at least, the last best hope of staving off the bad vibes from Saturn. The film's mode of setting up fantastically designed and lensed tableaux shots, combined with performances in direct-address and a steadily slow pace, has a nearly hallucinating impact on the eye.

There's a purified aura of beauty, though, in "Angelus" that creates a sometimes stunning sense of the imagination overcoming all obstacles.