A young man named Joseph (Jan Nowicki) visits a dilapidated Sanatorium to see his father Jakob (Tadeusz Konrad). On his arrival, a sinister doctor informs him that his father had stopped breathing but hasn’t died yet, perhaps due to Joseph’s arrival, which may have halted time in the Sanatorium. Joseph undertakes a strange journey through the many rooms of the Sanatorium, each of which conjures worlds composed of his memories, dreams and nightmares. Adapted from a collection of short stories by Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz, The Hourglass Sanatorium dispenses with traditional narrative, fashioning an audio-visual mosaic that blurs the line between reality and fantasy.
As in The Saragossa Manuscript, Wojciech Has fashions a cinematic universe composed with byzantine sets, hallucinatory images and a gallery of grotesque characters. However his magical-realist vision of pre-WW2 Poland is tinged with the sober consciousness of the violence that would follow and the recreation of Joseph’s childhood in a Jewish ghetto, foreshadowing the Holocaust.
Cast and Crew:
Starring: Jan Nowicki, Tadeusz Kondrat, Irena Orska, Halina Kowalska, Gustaw Holoubek, Bozena Adamek
Directed by: Wojciech J.Has
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