On the silver disc


In today’s post…finally. I ordered this at the end of February but production problems delayed the May release so it’s taken this long to make its way into the world. It’s worth the wait, of course, these films have been difficult to see for years, although the recent resurrection of On the Silver Globe has given the film a revitalised existence in bootleg circles. Zulawski’s unfinished science-fiction epic is the main attraction here—most of the substantial extras are devoted to it—but I’m looking forward to seeing The Devil again after only having watched it as a low-grade digital copy.

An uncompromising visionary and a true maverick of European cinema, the Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present three films by Andrzej Zulawski, all making their UK debuts on Blu-ray from definitive restorations.

Rich with multilayered symbolism and apocalyptic imagery, The Third Part of the Night is Zulawski’s highly influential debut feature film. After his whole family is slaughtered during the Nazi-occupation of Poland, Michal (Leszek Teleszynski) decides to join the resistance but descends into madness after encountering a doppelgänger of his murdered wife.

The Devil is a violent tale of Satanic seduction during the Prussian invasion of Poland in the 17th century, which proved so controversial upon release that it was banned for 16 years.

And finally, On the Silver Globe, Zulawski’s masterpiece about a team of astronauts who land on a desolate planet and start a new society. When filming was 80% complete, the Polish government ordered the production to be shut down and all the negatives be destroyed. Miraculously, the original film reels were preserved and ten years later the film was presented at the Cannes Film Festival to great acclaim.

If any of this sounds interesting then I also recommend Zulawski’s fourth feature, Possession. The less said about that one, the better. It’s a wild ride.

7 thoughts on “On the silver disc”

  1. Apparently Third Part of the Night and The Devil are not 4K restorations as no such restorations exist. Camera Obscura have released a boxset with the same films, with the original poster art, but unfortunately no English subs.

  2. You’ll have to argue that one with Eureka since that’s what they’re claiming. I don’t have enough information to offer an opinion. Eureka delayed the release because of a colour-grading issue so they’re not doing things by halves. And the set is now four discs in total.

  3. And here we have the second reason for my acquisition of a Blu-ray player. ‘On the Silver Globe’ is long, long overdue a release.

  4. While I haven’t seen every contender I doubt that there is anything out there that pushes the enveleope further than On the Silver Globe. A truly sublime film IMO, and one that I have have been quite unhealthily obsessed with over the years. I wish that Eureka would have included the disorienting English dub that used be available as a bootleg (a single voice narration by some Polish apparatchick with ZERO affect), but minor gripes aside this is for sure going to be a very worthwhile release.
    I would urge anyone smitten by On the Silver Globe to check out Boris Godounov (seemingly one of Zulawski’s least watched films) which at least to me serves as kind of an aesthetic sequel. This is a bit of speculation on my part, but I believe that production commenced almost simultaneously with the completion of On the Silver Globe in 1987. So, my thinking is that Zulawski and Jaroszewicz were kind of in that zone from finishing OtSG and decided to have another go at that particular style of filmmaking. It certainly looks the part. There’s a very decent French (English-friendly) blu-ray from a few years ago if anyone wants do delve into this…

  5. Those affectless voiceovers are a common feature of Russian bootlegs, a workaround for a nation that likes to bootleg everything but doesn’t have subs for all the illicit films.

    I can’t imagine what a Zulawski Boris Godunov would be like, so I’m curious on that level alone. The only adaptation I’ve ever seen was the Tarkovsky one which was as slow and ponderous as you’d expect from Tarkovsky directing a big opera production.

  6. There’s actually a connection between Tarkovsky’s Boris Godunov and Zulawski’s. Apparently French film producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier offered Tarkovsky to finance a film version of his 1983 Covent Garden opera, but Tarkovsky died just a few weeks later. The project was then briefly passed on to Andrzej Wajda, before somehow landing in Zulawski’s lap. It’s a bit blurry but the connection is there.
    A fine article on the film (courtesy of MUBI): https://mubi.com/en/notebook/posts/the-forgotten-andrzej-zulawski-s-boris-godunov-1989

  7. Re: films that might be compared to OTSG, I’d suggest the 2013 adaptation of Hard to Be a God. It’s not as frenzied as Zulawski’s film–few things are–but it has a similar atmosphere of delirium and random strangeness; more medieval than tribal but still weird. It helps if you read the novel by the Strugatsky Brothers to make sense of the story.

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