FILM INFO: 71 minutes, Poland, 1964, Subtitled, Black and White, 35mm, Print courtesy of the Polish Film Archive

Showing the kind of resourcefulness that was to characterise his entire career, Skolimowski completed his first feature over the four-year period of his studies at film school. Although Rysopis (which means ‘identification marks’ in Polish) shows the semi-amateur and clandestine nature of its creation, it lays out the groundwork for everything that follows. The central character, Andrzej Leszczyc, is clearly a surrogate for Skolimowski, who also plays him here and in two subsequent films, Walkover and Hands Up! Rysopis spans the last few hours before Andrzej’s departure for military service and is a picaresque account of his various encounters. The film takes a sharp look at the bewildered allegiances of the generation that missed the war and reveals a society in which everything is betrayal. People are constantly being overheard, stared at, interrogated, spied on; there is suspicion and distrust everywhere. Anti-heroism may be its theme, but Rysopis marked the arrival of a new kind of filmmaking courage.


FILM INFO: 70 minutes, Poland, 1965, Subtitled, Black and White, 35mm, Print courtesy of the Polish Film ArchiveWalkover is the centrepiece of a trilogy of films about the state of Poland in the 1960s that began with Rysopis and ended with Hands Up! Skolimowski himself again plays the central character, Andrzej Leszczyc. It is six years since he enlisted in the army and he now makes a living travelling around the country competing in amateur boxing contests. As Michael Walker wrote in Second Wave, Walkover ‘is an intensely physical film, giving an impression of a mise-en-scene driven by a powerful dynamo, with some stunning visuals and camera movements . . . The film expresses at the same time the internal rhythms of the life of its hero and the mêlee of impressions which comprise Skolimowski’s vision of his country. And just as his own personality is expressed in the energy and drive of the film, equally he provides the reflective moments: the poetry spoken over the transistor which Andrzej carries is his own.’

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