Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Andrzej Zulawski's Boris Godounov at BAM

The second-to-last Andrzej Zulawski film to screen as part of the BAM retrospective might be Zulawski's most rare film, Boris Godounov. Nearly impossible to purchase in any form for home viewing, Boris Godounov was the only Zulawski feature film I had yet to view. The film is an anomaly in Zulawski’s career as a filmmaker as it is his only filmed version of an opera and his only film in Russian. As Boris Godounov is a filmed opera and most importantly a Zulawski work, it features ever shifting camera perspectives, glorious lighting, beautiful set pieces and pure spectacle. I am far from well versed in opera or film versions of opera though feel quite confident in proclaiming that this is a highly unusual cinematic adaptation of an opera.

Boris Godounov is filled with brutal, dreamlike, funny and charming sequences. It is a self-reflexive film that repeatedly brings attention to the artifice of film-making, stage productions, and art itself. Zulawski’s crew and technical background materials weave in and out of the visuals seen. This is done in such a way that never becomes overbearing or unfortunate. Instead, it adds an interesting element to an already surreal touch on the opera that is unspooling. The music, singing, and performances are top tier as are all of the magical set designs and costumes.

BAM came through once again showing an exceedingly rare print that looked absolutely phenomenal. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was to behold. I greatly anticipate the Mondo Vision release, which is currently slated for release in 2013.