Zulawski: Diabel



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During the Prussian army's invasion to Poland in 1793, a young Polish nobleman Jakub is saved from the imprisonment by a stranger who wants in return to obtain a list of Jakub's fellow conspirators. Following his mysterious saviour across the country, Jakub sees the overall chaos and moral corruption including his father's death and his girlfriend's betrayal. Being apparently demented by what he has seen, he commits a number of seemingly motiveless and gory killings.

Dir. Andrzej Zulawski, 1972, 119 min.

At one point in Zulawski’s Diabel, our hero asks if the world is really rotten, or if it just appears that way because of his illness. This query is met by a simple response: ‘I can’t explain it. I’ll dance it.’ The business of physical expressing those thoughts and feelings which we sometimes struggle to put into words is at the heart of Zulawski’s cinema. It is the essence of Isabelle Adjani’s infamous subway freakout in the director’s most famous film, Possession. However, never is it more clear than in Zulawski’s most misunderstood film, L’Amour braque. This audio-visual presentation looks at dance and maddness in Zulawski two most extreme films: Diabel and L’Amour braque. Ostensibly a gothic horror, Diabel concerns Jakub - a Polish soldier who may or may not be mad - released from prison by a mysterious black cloaked spy. He returns home to find his fiance pregnant, his father sleeping with his sister and his mother presiding over a brothel. Furious, the spy is only too happy to provide Jakub with a straight razor with which to wreak his revenge on those who have wronged him. Daniel Bird