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BLIND CHANCE (PRZYPADEK)(director/writer/producer: Krzysztof Kieslowski; cinematographer: Krzysztof Pakulski; editor: Elzbieta Kurkowska; music: Wojciech Kilar; cast: Jacek Borkowski (Marek), Irena Burska (Aunt), Adam Ferency (Priest), Zbigniew Zapasiewicz (Adam), Tadeusz Lomnicki (Werner), Boguslaw Linda (Witek); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jacek Szeligowski; Film Polski; 1987-Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)
“More enlightening than entertaining.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Acclaimed director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s (“The Double Life of Veronique”) Blind Chance was made in 1982 but fell under the controls of Poland’s martial law and wasn’t released until 1987. Kieslowski offers three distinct possibilities for Poland’s future after the country was suppressed in 1981 by the ruling Communist government. He has issues with the harsh realities of the current political climate and hopes that by humanizing his bleak tale of woe, he can come to better terms with his troubled country.

Witek (Boguslaw Linda) is a former medical student running to catch a train from Lodz to Warsaw and he becomes the focus of Kieslowski’s explosive psychological drama. His life is played out in three different variations as through him, the so-called Everyman, we can best understand the dilemma of the country. In the first interpretation he catches the train and is befriended by an old-line Stalanist Party member and joins the Communist Party, only to be disillusioned by what he sees; in the second, he misses the train and knocks down a guard and is arrested, but subsequently in jail makes connections with the dissident student movement and later on becomes a Catholic; in the third, he misses the train and returns to his studies, marries and becomes a successful doctor. In all three versions, there is nothing good to say about the Communist Party or about the future in Poland. Though it’s implied that if Kieslowski made a fourth version, it would have shown that Poland had kicked out the Communist Party.

It’s a ponderous and gloomy film that is more enlightening than entertaining, but one that had to be made by the filmmaker as a witness to tyranny. Kieslowski delivers a powerful exposition on fate, chance, and coincidence. It dramatically shows mankind’s destiny is interconnected with the everyday life connections of individual will and fortuitous circumstances. Kieslowski is suggesting that a seemingly uneventful moment–the instant of either catching or not catching a train–might actually be of utmost importance, as there is the possibility that what results can drastically alter the course of one’s life (and, for that matter, the country’s).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”