When I was at secondary school in my teenage years one morning a very good friend came in to class raving about a film he’d seen that night on Channel 4, a Polish sci-fi comedy which was beyond bizarre. Unfortunately it was never repeated (or if it was it was in the early hours and escaped my notice) and over the years grew the film’s mythical status grew and grew as he spoke about how great the film was, and how incredibly weird it was too.
Decades then past, and yes, it is depressing to write such words, until I suddenly remembered the film out of the blue, I couldn’t explain why either but it just popped in to my mind, and a quick search tracked it down. Thanks to the joys of the internet I was watching it a short while later, and though it didn’t quite live up to expectations and there are a couple of slightly weak moments, and a sprinkling of unneeded nudity, it is definitely a pretty unusual and amusing affair.
The plot follows two men (Jerzy Stuhr, Olgierd Lukaszewicz), one a Scientist and one a laddish twat, who are meant to be frozen for three years but something goes wrong and it turns out it’s fifty three years later when they wake up. Soon they discover their extended nap is because of “The Great War” which has led to all of the men vanishing, and somewhat weirdly the future consists of women who like taking off their clothes and rollerskating a lot. Oh and they’ve rewritten history too, so everyone believes men are responsible for nothing but misery, but as that’s pretty much the case in the real history books I’ve no idea why they did that.
The rather caddish fella then kisses one of the women without any warning in a scene which might be considered sexual assault in this day and age, and rather dodgily despite this she’s like a woman possessed as her body suddenly aches for male contact. The men have been imprisoned at this point and are desperate to escape, but before they have the chance they’re put on trial, and if things don’t work out for them they’ll either be killed or turned in to women, and neither is a fate they desire.
It takes a while to get going but once they discover they can all but paralyse women with a brief bit of snogging they’re on the run, and the film takes a rather unusual turn as we see more of this strange new world, and parts of an even stranger new world which is filled with those who have rejected society. Just as you feel you might have a handle on what the film is trying to do and say there’s an almighty twist too, and one I didn’t see coming from at least several hundred miles away.
The way it handles trans issues is slightly questionable, and though it is undoubtedly “Of its time” the suggestion that the male characters should be forced to change sex isn’t dealt with in as considerate a manner as it should be. The male character’s don’t come off too well in the film either, shown to be supposedly intelligent scientist types who are dismissive of women or slutty idiots who just want to fuck everything in sight, it’s a deliberate choice of course, and all part of the satire, but it’s a shame it’s quite so heavy handed.
Otherwise this is a strange yet likeable affair, the performances may not be Oscar-worthy but they’re decent enough and the look of the film is an impressive one, being one of those movies where the set design deserved a good few awards, and it’s a movie that contains many a memorable image. The humour is mostly strong and the final shot is a fantastic way to bring thing to a close as well, which made me laugh out loud for about thirty seconds, and if you can forgive some of the more mediocre elements it has a good deal going for it.