Polish Cinema: The Menacing Eye (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1960, Poland)

The Menacing Eye (Oko wykol) is a two-minute short directed by Jerzy Skolimowski in 1960. At this point, Skolimowski was attending the Lodz Film School with future luminaries of the Polish film scene including Polanski - with whom Skolimowski would soon collaborate on Knife in the Water. Skolimowski's film bears some similarities to Polanski's early short films. The film opens with what appears to be a carnival. As the camera tracks down, we see a silhouette of a man with a knife, which soon begins showing the man with the knife entering a cabin where a woman is preparing her makeup.

The man hops up on a rocking horse in the room and begins throwing knives at the woman as she stands against the wall of the room. Through some camera trickery, we see the knives hit the walls next to the woman in the classic carnival act. The woman begins pulling the knives from the wall, when suddenly she collapses, leaving her black wig attached to one of the knives. The man leaves the cabin in the same way we saw him enter, this time taking a flower from one of the cabin steps with him along the way. 

Like Polanski's early films, Skolimowski's film expresses themes of obsession, violence, sexual frustration, and many others. It is interesting to watch such early films as they express many of the themes these directors would explore in their later films - albeit in much more detailed ways. Skolimowski was exploring a way to use film as a metaphor, and clearly, he was also deeply interested in the psychology behind the film. We also see his early experiments with formalism, using the effects of shadow but also the effects of characters appearing in mirrors to render certain psychological observations. Worth a watch for Polish cinema fans.



Popular Posts