The Third Part Of The Night (1971)

ANDRZEJ ZULAWSKI

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Trzecia Czesc Nocy

Poland, 1971.  Screenplay by Andrzej Zulawski, .  Cinematography by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Remarkably assured feature debut by the never dull Andrzej Zulawski, set during World War II and rife with espionage, violence and lice.   Joining the homeland resistance after family tragedy at the hands of the Gestapo, Michal goes undercover working in a research lab to help develop a typhus vaccine while conducting the business of moving secrets around the city.  When he almost gets caught during an operation, an innocent man is shot and arrested in his place because of a wardrobe mixup, immediately putting Michal in the way of the man’s wife.   She is a double for his own spouse and he aids her in giving birth (in an incredible sequence), falls in love with her and tries to make a new family; she takes refuge in a convent while he has to deal with the mayhem brought on by war, the social fracturing of Poland’s occupation reflected not only in the madness that the character must endure but in the circular plotting and wacky sequences that Zulawski cannot seem to run out of ideas for.  Many of the themes that he would develop in later films, such as doubleness and erotic obsession, are well on display in his debut, a vitally original film that has not lost any of its powers since its creation.

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