Thursday, January 31, 2013

SZAMANKA (1996) - Andrzej Zulawski

Possession may be the best entry point for discovering Zulawski, but, for me, Szamanka (The Shaman) might be the most fun. It boasts one of the looniest female leads (Iwana Petry) this side of Betty Blue and some of the oddest (yet oddly erotic) sex scenes outside of Last Tango.

The plot spins around a beautiful (though unhinged) college student known only as "the Italian." She comes to room in the apartment of an anthropology professor (Boguslaw Linda) who's studying a mummified shaman that's recently been unearthed. Her initial interview with the professor is thorough, though not in the check-your-references kind of way. Basically, they go at it on a bare mattress within minutes. This is not a bad thing for "the Italian," considering that if she were to fill out an application she would have to put under Hobbies "likes to eat cat food and, occasionally, human brains."

Things get weirder as their relationship evolves (or de-evolves) and the Prof makes headway on the shaman mummy's shadowy background. Was he killed by a mysterious woman bent on stealing his powers? Did she inseminate him with her "female sperm"? And would it be opportune to note here that Szamanka's screenplay was written a noted feminist and founder of the Polish Women's Party?

Probably best not to look too deeply into these questions. Or "the Italian's" background. Who knows what other disturbing things you might find (the coming apocalypse, possibly). Just watch and enjoy as Zulawski assaults you with one bizarre scene after another. "The Shaman Woman" may not be sane, human or housebroken, but guaranteed she's the most interesting OKCupid date you'll ever had.

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