On the Silver Globe | Poland | 1988 | Directed by Andrzej Zulawski
The first half of the story involves three astronaut colonists - two male, one
female - who become stranded on the dark side of the moon, but are strangely able
to breathe and survive if they stay close to the water (hauntingly filmed near the
Baltic coast and the Crimean banks of The Black Sea). Like Adam and Eve, they
produce children of incest who create their own primitive society complete with
rival tribe factions and arcane ceremonies that celebrate the oldest surviving
spaceman (Jerzy Trela) as a god. The mystical locales, with their grim white sands
and melancholy gray-blue skies, set an appropriately nightmarish atmosphere, and
the wardrobe of pagan headdresses and ornate embroideries are like the gothic
fever-dream flipside of the hippie summer of love.
Kicking into an even more feverish gear, a lone astronaut named Marek (Andrzej
Seweryn) arrives to gather information on what happened to the original colonies.
His ill-fated rescue mission gives way to surrender as the tribes praise him as
their champion defender against the monstrous and fascistic winged raven-black
creatures that have enslaved them. Imagine The Last Temptation of Christ set
within the post-apocalyptic wreckage zone of Stalker. Zulawski's most notable
visuals include desperate pre-war orgies, a crucifixion that lifts the doomed
messiah 60 feet into the air, and the camera spiraling up gigantic spikes with
victims impaled upon them like savage Medieval offerings. Absurd and extreme but
never morbid, this European shock-cinema offering goes so far overboard in its
excess that it becomes a bleak comic spit into the face of organized religion,
organized society, and even organized narrative. It is completely out of control,
almost joyfully so, like a child knocking over sandcastles. As Zulawski says,
"The key to unhappiness is to control."
Zulawski's movies tackle big ideas, and if Possession is about the aching pain
of love, On the Silver Globe takes raging philosophical bites on the subject of
ethical freedom. Zulawski believes we are all unhappy, creating the image of God
so that we can tear it down again, or kill, or fulfill our hungers and be forgiven.
Heavy stuff, to be sure, but he expresses his thoughts through primal, kinetic images,
with a restless camera shoving its way forward into scenes like a parasite and
characters descending into caustic fits of love and hate. His films don't seem like
ponderous intellectual exercises, but highly emotional gut responses?nd endlessly
fascinating because we just aren't used to seeing that much spirited, hyperactive,
shrieking human feeling on screen at one time. When it's all over, it feels like
you've been through a cleansing sweat of tears. Viewers willing to jump into the
Zulawski abyss are encouraged to buckle their seatbelts and bring their crash helmets,
because it's a wild and bumpy trip down.