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Poland, 1973 (MIFF 1974)

Director: Krzysztof Zanussi

Illumination won the grand prize at the Locarno festival last year, and its director. Krzysztof Zanussi, is considered by many critics to be the most original film maker working in Polish cinema. He took the title, Illumination, from medieval philosophy; it means a clarity of thought gained through intellectual hardship and purity of heart.

A young scientist, Franciszek, whose passion is a philosophical searching for truth, experiences two events that defy his rational analysis. In his first sexual experience he becomes involved with an older woman, a lecturer at the university. But he loses her. suddenly and unexpectedly, during a group narcotics experiment.

Franciszek leaves for the mountains. A friend of his dies there, and his death is the second unsettling experience for the young scientist.

He returns to the university, marries and has a child. To support his family, he has to work in a factory, and he takes part in experiments at a psychiatric clinic at night. Franciszek becomes friendly with a patient who dies after a brain operation. He gives science away and takes up the life of a Cameldolite monk, and later a vagabond.

Without finding the answers he has been seeking, he returns to his family, and again takes up his studies. In the end. understanding comes through an unexpected threat: heart disease. Now, he grasps most fully the dilemma of spirit and body.

'Though on the surface the story of a young man's search for truth and knowledge, and his school and personal life, it transcends this by an unusual insight into the very texture of life and eventual acceptance or rejection by the protagonist.'

Mosk, Variety

'Using non-actors and an almost documentary technique, Zanussi, through his hero, probes and questions attitudes to life and its values.'

Peter Cargin, Film

Grand Prix, Locarno

See also...


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