Cosmos 2015
Watching an Andrzej Zulawski film can be quite an adventure. Before his sudden death earlier last year on the eve of the New York Film Festival premier of Cosmos, Zulawski’s career spanned five decades…. a career that resulted in 13 highly idiosyncratic and propulsive features that not only quite often enraged the censors of his native Poland and got him banned from working there, but endeared him to the hearts of cult film purists around the world.

Cosmos, the final film by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski, is a dizzying, head-scratching journey into some sort of comic, existential nightmare. Adapted by Zulawski from the 1965 novel by author Witold Gombrowicz, the film takes the basic story and characters from the source material and transports them to the present day, along with an injection of cinematic playfulness that could not have existed in print. The finished product is a heady blast of strange behavior, witty dialogue, and heavy examination of sexual, violent, and angry expression that flies at the viewer without pausing to let them collect their thoughts.

The film follows two young men, Witold (Jonathan Genet) and Fuchs (Johan Libereau), who are looking for a place to stay while Witold studies for a law exam he previously flunked. They settle on a tiny inn run by Madame Woytis (Sabine Azema) and her husband Leon (Jean-Francois Balmer). Although both Madame Woytis and Leon are wild eccentrics, Witold and Fuchs' stay would likely have been uneventful were it not for Madame's daughter, Lena (Victoria Guerra), whose beauty and attitude set off something in Witold's brain the moment he lays eyes on her. Between Lena and the disturbing sight of a sparrow, hanging from the neck like a lynched human, on a wire outside the building, Witold starts straying from his exam and into a state of perpetual emotional torture.

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Cast: Sabine Azema, Jean-Francois Balmer, Jonathan Genet, Victoria Guerra, Clementine Pons, Andy Gillet, Ricardo Pereira
Country: France, Portugal
Genre: Drama

BD50 + DVD9 | 1080p AVC, PAL | 01:42:11 | 44.9 Gb + 7.69 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Francais
Subtitles: English

Extras:

• ‘Hanging Sparrows’ (31:01). In this featurette, the principal cast (Genet, Guerra, Balmer and Pons) and cinematographer Andre Szankowski reflect on the production. Also included is some archive footage of Zulawski. They discuss Zulawski’s approach to directing actors, and reflect on the script’s use of language. The featurette is in English and French, with optional English subtitles.

• ‘A Brief History of Gombrowicz’ (11:25). Rita Gombrowicz is interviewed about the work of her husband, Witold Gombrowicz. She discusses their first meeting and talks about the author’s key novels before reflecting on some specific books by Gombrowicz. This interview is in French, with optional English subtitles.

• ‘Bleurgh’ (4:48). In this short video essay by Daniel Bird, we are presented with a montage of some of the film’s dense web of allusions to film, literature and theatre.

• Behind the Scenes (7:42). This series of clips from the shooting of the film shows the setting up of some of the shots and the application of makeup to Catherette’s lip. We also see Zulawski directing is actors and the crew doing their work.

• Locarno Film Festival: Press Conference (30:51); Q&A (44:12); and Awards Ceremony (2:41). In this footage from the 2015 Locarno Film Festival, we are presented with Zulawski and some of the cast commenting on the film and fielding questions from the audience. This, again, is in French with optional English subtitles.

• Lisbon & Estoril Festival Introduction (7:36). Here, Zulawski gives an introduction to the film in front of the festival’s audience. Optional English subtitles are included.

• International Trailer (1:39).

• UK Trailer (1:39).

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