Polish Cinema: Murder (Roman Polanski, 1957, Poland)

Morderstwo (A Murderer) is the first film by Roman Polanski, made while he was a student at the National Film School in Lodz. The film opens with a shot of a white door and a doorknob. The doorknob slowly turns and opens, and a man clad in black enters - we can only see him from the chest down. The man closes the door behind him and walks into the room. In the room, a man is sleeping on a bed. We see a closeup of the black-clad man removing a knife from his jacket pocket. 

The black-clad man pushes the knife into the sleeping man's chest and then proceeds to hold him down. The sleeping man writhes in pain and struggles against the murderer, but then quickly expires and ceases struggling. We are given a shot of the man's arm falling to the floor, blood running along with it. The camera then pans up to show the man's corpse, and the man is clad in black reinserting the knife into his pocket. The man - who we can see in this shot has spectacles and a mustache - slowly walks out of the room. The door closes behind him, and the camera hovers on the door for a moment.

Interestingly, Polanski chose to depict murder for his first film - perhaps an ominous indication of things to come in his career. There is a brutal simplicity to the proceedings of the film, the film despite being a student film manages to capture an ominous tone. This is enhanced perhaps by the lack of sound, which allows you only to hear the natural sound around you as you watch the events take place. Morderstwo is a film that sets the tone for the rest of Polanski's filmography.



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