Polish Cinema: Erotique (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1961, Poland)

Erotique is another early short from director Jerzy Skolimowski. Like The Menacing Eye, this one clock in at a mere 3 minutes. Also like that film, this one examines the relationship between a man and a woman. The film opens with the mirror - a motif that also appeared in The Menacing Eye and is very much present throughout Skolimowski's oeuvre. A woman scrawls the title of the film into the mirror while singing a song. The clean mirror reveals a man standing behind her. The man will be familiar to anyone remotely familiar with Polish cinema as Gustaw Holoubek, the ubiquitous actor (and later politician) who appeared in dozens of films from the 1950s until the new millennium - including such classics as The Law and the FistSaltoThe Saragossa Manuscript, and The Hour-Glass Sanatorium.

Holoubek tells the woman to not be afraid, and that he'll cheer her up. He compliments her beautiful dog, and a dog miraculously appears in the woman's hands out of nowhere. The man pets and compliments the dog, soon touching the woman's hand. He lifts the dog up and then throws it to the ground, seemingly killing the dog. We then get one of the more iconic shots in Skolimowski's filmography - the camera closes in on Holoubek inflating a balloon, surrounded by scraps of newspapers. The balloon reveals a macabre smiling face and pops. He then corners the woman and slowly walks toward her, tearing newspapers in his path. The film culminates with the man's point of view - his eyes blinking - as the woman falls back into the paper and the screen cuts to black. The whole film has an oneiric and nightmarish quality that defies simple interpretations. On a purely visual level, the film does a lot with very little. 



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