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Big Animal

The screenplay for Big Animal was written in 1973 by Krzysztof Kieslowski and filmed by his friend and collaborator Jerzy Stuhr in 2000. The chief protagonist, Mr. Sawicki (Jerzy Stuhr), is a clerk at the local bank who disrupts the peace of a small town by walking down the street with a camel which he and his wife have adopted as a pet (the animal having been left behind by a travelling circus). This strange sight doesn’t go unnoticed by the local residents and the authorities. People begin to turn their backs on the Sawickis. The authorities make their life difficult by issuing absurd executive orders; their neighbours denounce them to the police and organise demonstrations.

The film is a lovely, gentle fable about tolerance, about being different and faithful to one’s beliefs. It boasts outstanding black and white cinematography by Pawel Edelman, and won the Special Jury Prize at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. ‘For me, Big Animal is a special film,’ said Jerzy Stuhr. ‘Firstly, because in a way it allowed me once again to work with Krzysztof Kieslowski. Secondly, this is my first poetic film. I have always had a tendency to look at the world with realism. Now I have found the courage to deal with metaphor. With this film I tried to discover and express some different sensitivities.’

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