Behind the Wall (TV Movie 1971) Poster

(1971 TV Movie)

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9/10
A raw and touching study in loneliness
RogerTheMovieManiac8815 February 2017
'Za sciana', an early-career TV production from the legendary Krzysztof Zanussi, truly proved to be a deeply compelling viewing experience. IMDb lists a running time of 56 minutes but the version I viewed online ran for only around half an hour. Although brief in length, there is a simple and stark humanity on show that gives rise to a film that lingers long in one's mind.

The remarkable Maja Komorowska appeared many times in Zanussi's films and here she created another character that touches deeply one's heart. She plays a lonely, uncertain writer who, seeking guidance and the warmth of human compassion, asks a professor around to her lodgings to look at her work. The equally iconic Zbigniew Zapasiewicz would also appear in many of Zanussi's greatest films and here he plays the part of the career-centred academic who is helpful yet oblivious and utterly unprepared for the extent of the young woman's anguish and extreme loneliness. A riveting and hauntingly real little film, the two great actors create an emotional intensity that draws one right into the sad little story as it unfolds. The focus throughout is largely on the faces of Komorowska and Zapasiewicz and they both do a wonderful job in creating nuance, uncertainty, and uncomfortableness in the small, confined setting.

This is another notable accomplishment from Krzysztof Zanussi and one with interesting and frank things to say on the difficulties in communication and connection across the barriers of misunderstanding and self-absorption that can exist as part of humanity and the pursuit and attainment of success and happiness. The power and the plaintive suffering of Maja Komorowska's Anna is something I won't soon forget.
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