Salt of the Black Earth

(Sól Ziemi Czarnej, 1970)
   Celebrated film by Kazimierz Kutz about his native Upper Silesia. Scripted by Kutz, with photography by Wiesław Zdort and music by Wojciech Kilar, the film introduces authentic places and real people with local dialects and modes of thinking. It also continues Kutz's interest with the plebeian character that he developed during the Polish School period. The film deals with the 1920 uprising against the German rule of Silesia. The story concerns the Basista family: the patriarchal father, the silent mother and sisters, and the seven miner brothers. The Basista family house serves as a bastion of Polishness and traditional rituals concerning family life, work, and love for the region. The youngest son, Gabryel (Olgierd Łukaszewicz), and his coming-of-age story remain at the center of the film, which depicts his political and sexual initiation, his fascination with a German nurse, and his irresponsible behavior as an insurgent in the uprising when, in a stolen German uniform, he moves into enemy territory to see the nurse. Although the film is set during the actual political event, surprisingly it neglects politics in favor of creating a poetic image of the province. In folk-ballad form, Kutz shows grayish images of industrial Silesia—coal mines, piles of waste coal, steelworks, and railway tracks—contrasted with the reddish color of miners' brick houses. Kutz also juxtaposes the images of industrial Silesia with the pastoral vision of Poland and the pragmatism of the Silesians with the traditional Polish romanticism. Polish critics compared the symbolism and choreographed movements of actors in Kutz's film with those of Sergei Paradzhanov and Miklós Jancsó. Kutz's film, the winner of the Łagów Film Festival, forms the Silesian Trilogy with The Pearl in the Crown (1972) and Beads of One Rosary (1980).
   Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema by Marek Haltof

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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