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Poland, 1960 (MIFF 1963)

Director: Andrzej Wajda

From his fine trilogy on the subject of war and its aftermath, Andrzej Wajda turns to the gentler subject of young intellectuals in Warsaw. The innocent sorcerers of the film's title are a young doctor, Andrzej, a jazz drummer in his spare time, with a reputation for being a gay dog, and a young girl, Magda, whom he picks up while trying to escape the attentions of another girl. Andrzej takes Magda, who has missed her last train home, back to his flat - the classic seduction situation. Too classic for them in fact, for instead of yielding to their instincts, they set out to deliberately mock them. Each tries to outdo the other in blase sophistication. The airy love game turns into a strip poker, culminating in a complex moment of guilt and shame, when the soul stands naked instead of the body. Magda finally falls asleep and Andrzej is called away; when he returns she has gone. After a fruitless search, he returns a second time to find her waiting for him.

This is, denouement apart, a model piece of intimate film-making, constructed with exciting economy. Scornful of sentimentality, it touches the understanding again and again; Wajda has rendered down his material to the point where its impact is purest, utterly direct. He is helped in this by his two impeccable leading players; but the film is ultimately ours, and all we need do is watch the spontaneous feelings of innocence on the one hand, questioning maturity on the other. Award: Diploma of Merit, Edinburgh Festival.

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