17 November 2014



Original Title:
Sanatorium pod klepsydrą

Alternate Title:
The Sandglass

German Titles:
Das Sanatorium zur Todesanzeige / Das Sanatorium zur Sanduhr

Poland, 1973
Director: Wojciech Jerzy Has
as Wojciech J. Has)

(Screened as part of the Horrorfilm Retrospective "Land of the Dead 1968 - 1978" in September at the Filmmuseum, Vienna. Not the restored 2013 version, but the original 35mm version.)

Seeing this movie on the big screen was definitely one of my weirdest in-cinema experiences ever, simply because this movie is just sooo unbelievably... erm, weird. Based on the story collection "Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass" by Polish writer Bruno Schulz, acclaimed Polish director legend Wojciech Jerzy Has created a surreal and dream-like succession of scenes and sequences, all connected to a man who visits his father in a sanatorium where time behaves in a pretty fucked up way.

The first 10-15 minutes are rather understandable, but then the viewer gets thrown into an unimaginably bizarre, yet pretty entertaining phantasmagoria constantly jumping back and forth in time. Characters appear, disappear and reappear. Our main character jumps from one location to another, e.g. he crawls under a girl's bed where some random man eats jam, crawls out and finds himself in a mountain village where people with names like "Honduras" and "Nicaragua" wearing bird masks and feathers etc. It's as if Alejandro Jodorowsky and Juan López Moctezuma experiencing a drug-fueled feverish dream together

The fact that nothing makes sense is at times highly entertaining, at times simply tiring. There's shitloads of awesome visuals, beautiful sets, strange incidents and rather remarkable scenes (especially the one with the historical mechanical wax mannequins, or the one in the textile shop with the Jews singing and dancing), and the acting is just marvellous, especially the performances by Jan Nowicki and Tadeusz Kondrat, but in the end, "The Hourglass Sanatorium" is much too weird, much too nonsensical and at a length of 124 minutes
definitely much too long.

Wiki ~ Imdb 

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