Polish Cinema: Kill It and Leave This Town (Mariusz Wilczynski, 2020, Poland)

                 Kill It and Leave This Town is a fantastic lo-fi animation from Mariusz Wilczynski. Wilczysnki’s prior work has been comprised of short films, and his first feature took 15 years to make. Along the way several of the people involved with the production, including director Andrzej Wajda – who lends his voice to one of the film’s characters – passed away. Speaking of Wajda, the film is remarkable for the level of voice talent involved. From legends of Polish cinema to Daniel Olbrychski and Krystyna Janda, to modern celebrities such as model Anja Rubik, many of the voices in the film will have some familiarity to anyone engaged with Polish culture.

                Based on Wilczynski’s own upbringing in the industrial city of Lodz, Poland in the 1960s and 1970s, the film does not particularly follow a linear story but instead largely portrays vignettes. The film deals heavily with the subject of memory, and is imbued with the sense of this time period. The texture of the film is amazing and heavily surreal, sometimes taking on an almost primitive quality. I have seen it alternately compared to Bill Plympton, David Lynch, and artwork from 1990s grindcore albums. Drawings will morph in and out of reality – one particularly memorable instance is when sardines in a shop become human people. Another occurs when humans appear as dogs in the film, engaging in some unpleasant behavior.

                These events are accompanied by an equally rich auditory landscape, with the city’s industrial sounds melding with popular rock and blues tracks from the time period, including Breakout’s 1971 track “Kiedy bylem malym chlopcem.” The film becomes increasingly surreal as it progresses, but ultimately ends with a somewhat cathartic fantasy finale. Wilczynski’s vision is ugly as it is beautiful, and one hopes that his next film comes sooner than 15 years from now. Highly recommended.


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