Polish Cinema: Mammals (Roman Polanski, 1962, Poland)

Mammals is a short film that Roman Polanski made following his graduation from Lodz Film School, and before he began working on his first feature Knife in the Water. The film opens with a field in the winter - we can just make out a man in the far distance of the image. We see then that the man is running toward the camera, and carrying another man on a sled. The man on the sled is picking the feathers off a chicken. The man pulling the sled then throws the other man from the sled and has him carry him. 

The bearded man on the sled begins knitting but loses his ball of yarn. He attempts to catch back up with the sled. The two men begin getting into a fight, and the bearded man's shoe snow in the other man's face, but begins pulling him on the sled once again. The bearded man gets injured and the two men trade places once again. Another exchange, and now the other man is eating a sandwich while on the sled as the other man brings him along on crutches. The two men trade places once again, although the non-bearded man now seems to be blind.

At this point, the film has descended into a silent comedy routine, meets Waiting for Godot. The two men start another chase one another. There is a fun, breezy quality to the film, and it certainly anticipates the element of absurdist comedy that would appear in many - if not all - of Polanski's later films. There is also a great soundtrack by the legendary Polish jazz musician Krzysztof Komeda, who would go on to collaborate with Polanski on the soundtrack for 1968's legendary Rosemary's Baby. Overall, Mammals is a minor curiosity but not a must-watch. 



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