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Poland, 1974 (MIFF 1976)

Director: Krzysztof Zanussi

Krzysztof Zanussi's film explores an area of contemporary family and sexual life that has been opened up by Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage. Marta is forty, married with a son, and quietly unhappy with it all. Her husband, a scientist, is faithful and dull; she begins to ponder whether her life could not offer more responsibility, excitement, even love. There is an embezzlement in the office, and she stands up to the management in defending a colleague; she starts an affair with a young gym instructor and goes on a skiing tour with people in the office. In a poignant scene, Marta (Maja Komorowska) follows her lover to a summer resort, where she fails to contact him, and she gets drunk in a restaurant. By now, she is aware that her lover takes their relationship less seriously than she does and she begins to reconsider her headlong flight into sexual liberation.

With The Balance, Zanussi continues his exploration of moral issues begun in earlier films: The Structure of Crystals, Family Life and Illumination. Each of these films is presented in a quite different style. In The Balance, the camera sees the world through the eyes of Marta, and the film's meaning springs from her perceptions, needs and uncertainties.

'Zanussi's sober, unaffected style, his method of cutting just before the full impact of a scene has been absorbed, leaving it to tease and reverberate within the imagination, makes his films not only lucid, but subversive of most of our contemporary preconceptions.'

Film Comment

'In a year when marriage, divorce and moral responsibility seems to be at the top of every independent director's list, Zanussi's entry is by far one of the better ones. It deals with everyday problems anyone can identify with.'

Holl, Variety

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