'Two Men and a Wardrobe' ('Dwaj ludzie z szafą', 1958) by Roman Polański
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Uploaded on Jul 8, 2011
Cast: Jakub Goldberg, Henryk Kluba, Stanislaw Michalski, Roman Polański
Music: Krzysztof Komeda
Two men come out of the sea (any professor of symbology not otherwise busy rescuing the Vatican could tell you that that's an image of birth) bearing between them a huge, heavy wardrobe. For a little bit they frisk on the beach like children (possibly gay, possibly polymorphously perverse).
The wardrobe has two doors and a mirror in between, a mirror that sometimes reflects the subsequent encounters.
They carry their wardrobe up to the town, where they have a series of encounters. They try to put it on a trolley, but are pushed away. They try to interest a girl, but she walks away. They pass a pair of laughing gays, but one is busy picking the pocket of the other. They try to bring the wardrobe into a restaurant, but are pushed out. And then they break for lunch, after which their encounters become a bit more complicated.
They try to bring the wardrobe into a hotel, but are again rejected. A vain man stares into the mirror, so concerened with his own appearance that he doesn't notice when the two men carry the wardrobe away. They encounter a group of hooligans who cruelly kill a cat and are about to hassle a girl when the wardrobe gets in the way. The leader breaks the mirror and slugs one of the two clowns, leaving the decisive beating-up to a short thug (played by Polański, as in 'Chinatown'). One of the carriers cleans up the one who got beaten up, and they resort to a junkyard full of empty barrels. There, a watchman beats them up and chases them away. They pass a murder on their way back to the beach. There, they pass a child making a vast number of pointless sand pies and the child, like everyone else, ignores the wardrobe. The men and the strange new thing they brought with them disappear into the water in a reversal of the shot of the original miraculous birth. The last sound is of the waves crashing powerfully on the shore.
Heartbreaking, adorable, nostalgic, and cruel, 'Two Men and a Wardrobe' has all of the absurdity and innocence that Polański wished to portray. A lovely piece that stands on its own, the film also shows remarkable growth in Polański's work up to this point. In his autobiography, Polański notes that perhaps the film was conceived in part remembering his childhood friend Piotr Winowski, and all of the plans they has regarding his mother's piano (one of which was to move it into the street). Winowski had been Polański's confidant after the war, and when he saw him again years later, he was a ravaged young man working in the mines. Winowski died soon after that meeting. Perhaps Polański was thinking of Winowski, of their friendship, and also how easily hearts were bruised by the brutality of life. It was almost as if not to give away too much of his heart that he chose to play the bully in the ruffian scene. After all, one of the most important things to Polański at this time in his life was the process of becoming a man.
('Two Men and a Wardrobe' initiated Polański's collaboration with Krzysztof Komeda, the greatest jazz musician in Poland at that time. Formerly a doctor, Komeda had become very successful as a pianist and composer, but he had not yet attempted a film score. Intrigued by the possibility, Komeda created a soundtrack that adds greatly to the film)
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