Polish Cinema: Goodbye Until Tomorrow (Janusz Morgenstern, 1960, Poland)

Goodbye Until Tomorrow is a beautiful and sensitive portrayal of youthful romance from director Janusz Morgenstern. Morgenstern’s debut, the film fits firmly within the canon of the Polish New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s. It is a good companion piece to Andrzej Wajda’s Innocent Sorcerers, another film about fleeting love in the city, featuring several of the same cast members - including Zbigniew Cybulski and Roman Polanski. While Goodbye Until Tomorrow is evocative of the French New Wave, it is clear that Morgenstern and his contemporaries in Poland were developing a uniquely Polish style. 
Cybulski plays Jacek, a theater student in Gdansk who belongs to a collective of avant-garde puppeteers. By chance he meets Marguerite, the daughter of a French diplomat - played by the beautiful Teresa Tuszynska. Over the course of the film, a relationship develops between them. The evocative black and white cinematography of Jan Laskowski almost could be used for a travelogue, and indeed part of the film centers around Jacek showing Marguerite the highlights of Gdansk. At a deeper level, Morgenstern is conscious of the different lives led by Poles and their counterparts in France and the rest of Western Europe. Marguerite is capricious, unwilling to commit to anything. She has traveled around the world and seems relatively unimpressed with Gdansk. Jacek on the other hand seems to want commitment, even engaging in a mock wedding ceremony with Marguerite. The divide between Jacek and Marguerite is even expressed in their living spaces, with Marguerite living in a diplomat’s house - literally separated by a fence from the outside world. 
A melancholic tone pervades Goodbye Until Tomorrow, emphasized by Krzysztof Komeda’s excellent score. While the film perhaps feels minor as a whole, it is a thoughtful time capsule and example of the era when Polish cinema began to explore interior lives.


8/10

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