Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Jerzy Kawalerowicz's Night Train is a very low key movie. It's mostly about a man Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk, making his third appearance on my world cinema quest, after The Saragossa Manuscript and Knife in the Water) and a woman, Marta (Lucyna Winnicka) as they share a room on a long, overnight, train ride to the Baltic Sea. We meet them as well as some of the other passengers, like a flirty neighbor and Marta's love sick ex-boyfriend (Zbigniew Cybulski, also from The Saragossa Manuscript). A murder has taken place somewhere in the city before the train departs, and as the journey goes along we wonder if the murderer has taken up passage on the train, or if he might even be one of our main characters.
It's a good movie, but I'm not sure why exactly it was included in Martin Scorsese's Masterpieces of Polish Cinema series alongside The Saragossa Manuscript, Ashes and Diamonds, and The Hourglass Sanatorium, all of which are masterpieces of varying degrees. Granted, Jerzy Kawalerowicz's reputation was that of making politically charged movies, so maybe the seeming low-key blank slate-ness of this movie is actually a kind of allegory for post war Poland. If it is, I'm unaware of it, obviously. That said, this is still an engaging movie, even if it feel slight outside of the context of the time.