All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
The Saragossa Manuscript
In the Napoleonic wars, an officer finds an old book that relates his grandfather's story, Alfons van Worden, captain in the Walloon guard. A man of honor and courage, he seeks the shortest route through the Sierra Morena. At an inn, the Venta Quemada, he sups with two Islamic princesses. They call him their cousin and seduce him; he wakes beside corpses under a gallows. He meets a hermit priest and a goatherd; each tells his story; he wakes again by the gallows. He's rescued from the Inquisition, meets a cabalist and hears more stories within stories, usually of love. He returns to Venta Quemada, the women await with astonishing news.
A funny, surreal, Mobius strip of a movie couched in multiple levels of narrative indirection, that folds in on itself; defiantly refusing to give a flying rat's ass if you can't keep up.
The closest modern equivalent of The Saragossa Manuscript will probably be the Vulcan Mind Meld of a dozen Charlie Kaufman clones doing peyote in the desert as Christopher Nolan snorts their liquified brains with a rolled up Dali painting.
PS: It's late, and I'm tired.
Yes, this is a sprawling historical epic with interlocking mini-narratives that branch out at every opportunity, yet it's the farthest thing from a hulking white elephant. Instead, it plays its own structural conceits and overgrown plotting for absurd comedy. (By the ninth or tenth time a character leaned back and said, "Well, let me tell you a story..." everyone in the theater knew to laugh.) It also overflows with physical gags, which pop in and out of the widescreen frame, as well as nonstop jokes at the expense of 18th century Spanish nobility. Every clergyman and aristocrat may talk a big moral game, but the second it benefits them they all pirouette right into hypocrisy. The comedy here is broad,…
Polish folklore, mystery, adventure and the supernatural await you when glimpsing through the pages of the Saragossa Manuscript. It is a film full of epic tales (way more than one) and narrational devices that could easily leave your head spinning but somehow miraculously work.
"The Saragossa Manuscript" is divided into two parts. The first beginning on the very first level of narration with two warring soldiers from opposite sides held up in a old tavern where they discovered the manuscript and read it intently. In doing so they immerse themselves into the story without ever going back and reaching our second level of narration. The second level is a story of a Captain of the Walloon guard who is trying…
Luis Buñuel, a cinema master who seldom watched movies more than once, was so fascinated by Wojciech Has' masterpiece titled Rekopis Znaleziony w Saragossie, that he saw it three times. Surrealism is a highly versatile film subgenre, and in this case, the Polish director decides to deliciously construct the most inventive ride of lunacy! Besides being the most renowned film by the director, a fact that clearly indicates that he obtained international recognition, Rekopis Znaleziony w Saragossie is a film that can be interpreted in several ways. No matter how seemingly retarded the interpretation is, that is the correct one. It was highly influenced by past satirical masterpieces of fantasy, but it also establishes a landmark in unconventional storytelling, unconditional…
what what what what
On a recent Charlie Brooker special, Adam Curtis pondered the possibility of a kind of 'asymmetrical politics', one where the power-brokers deliberately back completely contradictory causes in order to frustrate and confuse their opponents. His short film is a persuasive one, but I would be cautious about ascribing to malevolence what can be explained by insanity. One of the pioneers of backing completely mutually exclusive political causes was Jan Potocki, a Polish aristocrat and hot-air balloonist who ended his life convinced he was a werewolf. In desperation, he grabbed a strawberry-shaped silver doorknob from his house, whittled it down to a bullet and shot himself, becoming infamous as "the man who shot himself with a strawberry".
Given that capsule biography,…
Among many people I trust, this 1965 Polish production has acquired cult status as a delightful, penetrating panorama of mystical adventure. The comparisons are generally to the Arabian Nights, since it tells the tale of a captain of the Spanish guard (the late Zbigniew Cybulski) as a series of stories within the story. The film is long, and if it grabs you it supposedly mesmerizes. Directed by Wojciech Has.
Was fun, and if there was a main joke kind of thing that was revealed at the end I didn't get it. Thank goodness story doesn't matter to me as much as the folk over at amc. The cinematic bucket list is as of now just a little bit smaller.
First published by EyeforFIlm
"Frasquita told her story to Busqueros, he told it to Lopez Suarez, who in turn told it to Señor Avadoro. It's enough to drive you crazy."
In fact, as Alfonse van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski) - Captain of the Walloon Guard and hero of The Saragossa Manuscript - tries to get his head round the perplexing chain of nested narratives offered as instructive entertainment by the Gypsy king Avadoro (Leon Niemczyk), he hardly comes close to a full account of what he has just heard or how he himself fits into it. The viewer may not be as foolish as van Worden, but anyone who tries to discern a unifying pattern in the film's dizzying narrative will…
The Saragossa Manuscript first caught my attention when I heard it compared to Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, a decidedly complex and erudite novel made up of multiple levels of narration resulting in an unique and intellectually stimulating reading experience. Saragossa satisfied my curiosity and I must agree that the comparison is apt in many ways. The film is a self-aware, sprawling historical puzzler that ambitiously threads together multiple interlocking narratives in a fun and lighthearted fashion. It defies categorization. It's a sex comedy, a meditation on death and insanity, a surreal horror film, and more. I won't claim to have untangled or completely demystified it in one viewing, but it ties together nicely. An enjoyable watch that's uncommon for its era, or really any era for that matter.
A labyrinthine, Buñuelian picaresque. Great fun.
The plot is one of those Russian dolls-within-dolls-within-dolls-within-dolls. Zbignew Cybulski grins and grimaces but basically overacts shamelessly. But the compositions, cinematography, and costumes are to-die-for. No wonder Jerry Garcia loved this flick. But I hate The Grateful Dead, except for "Uncle John's Band", despite my overpowering penchant for marijuana, so this rates a mere 7/10.
A funny, sexy romp, but its most distinctive feature is a dizzying sequence of stories within stories that befuddles even the characters themselves. I loved the setting, humor, and personalities, but the craft required to balance so many characters and plots shines above all else.
A Spanish officer wanders about a desolate landscape marked by discarded skulls and hanging bodies. Someone tells him a story; inside that story, someone else tells one; and then again, and again. The tales criss-cross, gaining in intricacy until you can’t even remember how deep the rabbit hole goes—a sustained structural joke that gains in strength up to the final frame. The tales take Has through the different social classes depicted in his oeuvre: drunks, monks, soldiers, sinners, gentlemen, and even a few ghosts. (Men of nobility are granted the foreground, while the poorer classes waft silently through the back.) Has gleefully alternates between the ghoulish and the goofball, but always maintains his eye for Brueghelian long shots—they let him…
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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