Saturday, 2 September 2017

Medium (1985)

Image result for film polish medium 1985I stumbled across this Polish film on Amazon Prime and started to watch it. I then kept watching it until the end - my usual approach to films. Medium is pretty good, not least because it defies most of the expectations of a Western horror fan.

The story is set in Sopot in 1933. Sopot is, I have since learned, on the 'Polish riviera' and is part of a tri-city complex with Gdansk and Gdynia. It certainly makes a beautiful and fascinating setting. In 1933 it was part of East Prussia, and Hitler had just seized absolute power. The film leaves no doubt about this, with a regular diet of posters and Brownshirts.

A female medium and her astrologer brother are attempting to detect a rival psychic. All they know is that he is controlling a group of seemingly random individuals. A bearded man in a hat and trench-coat wakes up on a beach. A dapper man arriving by train seems to be in a trance. An attractive teacher abandons her pupils and goes to a museum to steal a red dress.

It's all very Eastern European  cinema, dear me yes. But interesting. And all the action revolves around a suitably spooky old house. This one, in fact.

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It emerges that the man on the beach is a boozy detective called Selin. His deputy, Krank, has gone full Nazi and is out to replace his boss. The local gauleiter needs substantial evidence for this, but Selin seems determined to provide it as he experiences a to of missing time. Selin and Krank slowly put some of the pieces together and link weird occurrences to Orwicz, the owner of an aquarium. Orwicz, as a small boy, witnessed the murder of his parents. He is apparently using his extraordinary powers to re-enact the crime. But why?

Suffice to say that Orwicz, who spends the entire movie in a diabetic coma, has come up with a truly remarkable plan. The film's climax includes sex, violence, more Nazis, and a not-entirely-satisfactory conclusion. I struggled to interpret the final scenes as some kind of metaphor, given the historical setting, but higher meaning eluded me. Suffice to say this film is absorbing, unconventional, and successfully merges horror with police procedural and art-house cinema. The acting and direction are first-rate. If you're a subtitle-capable person you should enjoy this one.

1 comment:

Todd Treichel said...

Sounds well worth checking out, thanks.