97 minutes| U.K.| 1982| Colour| 35mm

Shot in three weeks in Skolimowski’s own house, this is a droll allegory about the political situation in Poland. Jeremy Irons plays Nowak, the one English-speaking member of a quartet of illegal Polish immigrants who have been sent to London to refurbish their boss’ property. When martial law is declared back home, Nowak withholds the news from his colleagues to ensure they get the job done and, as things develop, implicitly becomes the equivalent of the oppressors of Solidarity in the way he cuts off access to information, family and freedom itself. A more ironic companion piece to Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Iron, Skolimowski’s film also has fun at the expense of the consumerism and xenophobia of Thatcher’s Britain (‘I understand the language,’ complains Nowak, ‘but I don’t know what they mean’). One of Skolimowski’s most successful films, it is a work of scintillating wit, shrewdly exposing the corruptions of leadership whilst, equally subversively, offering a cheeky primer on supermarket theft.

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