The plot of Szamanka focuses on the very physical relationship between Michal, an anthropology professor, and a nameless psychotic woman who claims to be a student and works at a meat packing plant. As the film opens, Michal has discovered the corpse of a shaman preserved in the ground for thousands of years. Michal, whose own brother is Catholic priest, becomes obsessed with the shaman and the girl in equal measure. It's difficult not to draw a parallel between modern priests and ancient shamans here, as Michal's mystical communion with the shaman's corpse eventually leads him to consider becoming a priest himself. Michal also appears to be somewhat torn in his love life as he must choose between his fiancée, the cultured daughter of his employer, and the diametrically opposite student, whose own inability to conform to the rules of society is apparent in her proclivity for petty theft and her difficulty dealing with her mother and young children. So it seems that the central question of the film is whether Michal should embrace man's primal nature and continue his relationship with the shamanastic mad woman or return to modern civilization, either with his fiancée or through the priesthood. Yet all these thematic concerns are oddly de- emphasized as the film is too often composed of repetitive sex scenes. Typically of Zulawski, the film ends with some rather insane acts and what appears to be a rather large explosion.
All in all, this was a rather uneven film which raised some interesting themes but didn't explore them with much depth, instead focusing overmuch on an odd sexual relationship. Still, Zulawski's style is interesting enough on its own to make up for some of the film's flaws.