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dir. Andrzej Munk (Witold Lesiewicz) / Poland 1963 / 58’
subtitles: English


Aleksandra Śląska, Anna Ciepielewska, Janusz Bylczyński, Krzesisława Dubielówna, Anna Gołębiowska, Barbara Horawianka, Anna Jaraczówna, Maria Kościałkowska, Andrzej Krasicki, Jan Kreczmar, Irena Malkiewicz, Izabella Olszewska, Leon Pietraszkiewicz, Kazimierz Rudzki, Wanda Swaryczewska, Zdzisław Szymborski, Marek Walczewski, Barbara Wałkówna, Maria Ciesielska, Elżbieta Czyżewska, Stanisław Niwiński, Adam Perzyk, Sylwester Przedwojewski, Bogusław Sochnacki, Maria Wachowiak


Cannes IFF 1964 – Jury’s Special Mention, FIPRESCI Prize; Venice IFF 1964 – Award from the Italian Journalists’ Association; Warsaw Mermaid – Polish Film Critics’ Award for Best Polish Feature Film of 1963; Czechoslovak Festival of the Working People Main Prize 1964 – Award from the Czechoslovak Union of Anti-fascist Fighters, Award from the Club of Friends of Film Art; Award from the Finnish Film Critics’ Association 1965

Film description

Munk’s last film was based on a radio play by Zofia Posmysz entitled The Passenger from Cabin No. 45, which was adapted for television (by Munk) and then made into a novel that eventually served as the basis for the movie script.

Reflecting on Passenger, Munk said: The main themes of my new movie? The conflicts of a responsible conscience and the difficulty of measuring human endurance (‘Film’, 1961, no. 41).

Liza, who was a kapo in a World War II concentration camp, and her once-favourite target of persecution, the former prisoner Marta, meet on board a transatlantic ship years after the war. Memories come flooding back…

Munk avoids showing physical cruelty – his drama is psychological. Liza feels no guilt: she is only performing her duties. She seeks to subdue Marta by harassing her victim and demanding gratitude for lenient treatment. Yet Marta is resolved no to break, even at the cost of sacrifice and humiliation.

Munk died in a road accident before filming was finished. When no one was ready to complete the film, Witold Lesiewicz assembled the existing scenes, giving the movie its present form. Passenger premiered in September 1963, two years after the director’s death.

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