Polish Cinema: Your Money or Your Life (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1961, Poland)

Your Money or Your Life (Pieniadze albo zycie) is a 1961 short film directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, based on a short story by StanisÅ‚aw Dygat. Dygat was a prolific writer in the post-war period in Poland, and his works formed the basis of several notable films including Jowita - based on his novel "Disneyland." Dygat, who was Polish-French origin, often took a satirical view of Polish life. 

The film takes place at a fairground during the German occupation. A man approaches another man - "you're the one waiting for it?" He asks. Someone whistles and we cut to the credits, shot over the rhythm of marching boots. The man goes after the man he gave something to it and complains to the man that he shorted him. The man ignores him, playing a shooting game. The man who stiffed the other man hops aboard a ride, and the stiffed man tries to pursue the other man for his money. The man who stiffed the other man tells him that if he keeps complaining, he'll tell the two soldiers nearby that he is a Jew.

The man drags the other man toward the two soldiers and begs him not to bring him, claiming that he is a Jew. Hearing this, the man who stiffed the other man tells him to punch him in the face and run. The camera floats away into the sky from the point of view of the Ferris wheel as a Felliniesque horn band plays. Your Money Or Your Life is an interesting albeit slight entry in the early filmography of Jerzy Skolimowski. The film displays the director's more cynical sensibilities. It would be interesting to read the original short story by Dygat to see if there are similarities or if Skolimowski took liberties with the source material.



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