Polish Cinema: EO (Jerzy Skolimowski, 2022, Poland/Italy)

Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski has had a deeply idiosyncratic and varied career spanning nearly six decades. His films - shot in various languages and different countries - reflect a similar trajectory of many of his Polish compatriots, including Roman Polanski. EO, the director's latest film, finds him working again in his native Poland - although this Polish-Italian co-production takes place partially in Italy. The film is essentially a reinterpretation of Robert Bresson's seminal 1966 Au Hasard Balthazar, which took a donkey as a stand-in for a Christlike figure. Skolimowski's interpretation is somewhat more radical, as we perceive the world from the perspective of the donkey.

As with Balthazar, Eo becomes subject to the whims of the world around him. We know from the very beginning of the film that things will most likely not turn out well for Eo, which lends the film a deep sense of fatalism. For animal lovers or compassionate people, Eo is not a very pleasant film to watch. Eo undergoes abuse and mistreatment at the hands of various humans throughout the film. We are accustomed to seeing animals as the narrators of films in the sentimental Disney fashion, but Skolimowski attempts to reach some verisimilitude and asks us to experience the world through this donkey's eyes.

Eo ends up in Italy, where Isabelle Huppert makes a short appearance. The real stars of the film however are the cinematography by Michal Dymek and the soundtrack by PaweĊ‚ Mykietyn. The film is realized with a great amount of poetic imagery, sometimes with omniscient drone footage above the landscape. The film's soundtrack is deeply moving but not in any traditional sense. Overall, the film is deeply moving without being overly sentimental, and for that, we understand we are in the hands of a master director who has accomplished something. 



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