|Richard Brzostek - 04/07/2008
"Cellulose" is a film about hard times and the effect they have on a young man. The movie starts out with a young man named Szczesny meeting a woman on a park bench in the middle of the night. They strike up a conversation and he tells her the story of the last five years of his life.
His story starts when he was growing up in the country. His family was very poor and he went blind from malnutrition. Making a living was exceedingly difficult for them but they do not want to leave their land. Very reluctantly, Szczesny and his father leave for America because they hear how jobs are plentiful there.
Hilariously, "America" turns out to be a city in Poland. I wasn't sure if they were just a little na´ve and honestly thought it was "America" or if they used this term to mean a place where one could build one's fortune. At any rate, in the city they eventually get jobs removing bark from logs. Szczesny and his father end up forming a union, which ends up creating conflict with the other established unions.
We also get to see Szczesny work in a carpentry shop, his short stint in the army and his time working as a health official. A good amount of time is spent on each of these time periods and we really get to see how they slowly shape him. Not too surprisingly, communists are portrayed very positively in this movie, which is common in Polish films made in the years after World War II.
The story in "Cellulose" (Celuloza) is continued in its sequel "Under the Phrygian Star" (Pod Gwiazda Frygijska). I thought the story itself has a solid conclusion in "Cellulose" so there are no major questions left hanging about our hero Szczesny. His adventures are interesting and there are occasionally funny moments.
"Cellulose" is Jerzy Kawalerowicz's first solo effort as a director (he co-directed one movie before this one). Unquestionably, Kawalerowicz has influenced Polish cinema for nearly fifty years since his debut in 1954. His most recent hit was the 2001 big-budget production "Quo Vadis?" Although he may not be the most renowned Polish director, Kawalerowicz's work is exceptional.
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