Wednesday, February 18, 2015

401. Pasazerka/Passenger (1963)

Running Time: 62 minutes
Directed By: Andrzej Munk, Witold Lesiewicz
Written By: Andrzej Munk, Zofia Posmysz-Piasecka
Main Cast: Aleksandra Slaska, Anna Ciepielewska, Janusz Bylczynski, Krystyna Dubielowna, Anna Golebiowska

Note: Been watching a ton of movies lately (just not BOOK movies) and have to say it's been pretty great not HAVING to write reviews after everything I see. It's nice just watching movies for fun again, as THE BOOK has become sort of a chore lately. Some of the recent highlights in my movie watching include: Carnal Knowledge, Nightcrawler and Rififi - more on that at the end of the month.


My wife was summoned to the courthouse this morning to be a potential juror, which gave me some free time to do a BOOK movie. I had planned on watching Hearts of Darkness - the documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now, but when I put the DVD from Netflix in the player and my player started to sputter, I knew it must be cracked. I was right. So, I turned to the computer and a short one from director Andrzej Munk - a film that when unfinished before he died in a car crash, Passenger.

The film begins aboard an ocean liner, where Liza (Slaska) is traveling with her husband. When Liza notices another passenger that bears a striking resemblance to someone she used to know, she begins to recall a story she never told her husband. Turns out, Liza was once an SS overseer in the Nazi regime and the passenger that she recognized may or may not be a Nazi prisoner named Marta (Ciepielewska), whom Liza tried to take care of. We get flashbacks of the story as Liza recounts her tale to her husband, who never knew of her past. We learn that Liza wasn't a terrible Nazi, like most of her comrades and actually tried to help Marta whenever she could, choosing her as an assistant and even reconnecting Marta and her husband. The film takes place at Auschwitz and we never learn if Marta is indeed the woman on the ship or if she just resembles Marta. After Liza finished telling her story to her husband, he's sent reeling and she recalls the rest of the story by herself, where she gets a little more dastardly - meaning she may have been giving her hubby the soft version, so as not to tarnish his view of her. Like I said, the film is unfinished and it's really a shame, as if this film had a proper ending and a proper middle, it could've been a blow away picture. As it is, it's not too bad, but hard to judge since it's only a piece of a movie - a big piece, but still a piece.

It kind of makes you think about the Nazi's involved in the holocaust who weren't evil people. Surely and even Munk makes this clear too - and he was a Polish Jew who was more than likely effected by the war/the holocaust - there must have been a few real people, like Liza, who were just there to do their job and maybe, if they could, provide a helping hand when necessary. I'm not trying to be a Nazi sympathizer here, but like I said, there had to be at least one or two who weren't devils. The story here is great and I'll reiterate that I wish this could've been finished, given a proper score and all the finishing touches that Munk surely would've put in. Munk died in a head on collision with a truck and never got to finish this work. In fact, he only ever FINISHED three films and after watching this, I wouldn't be opposed to checking the others out. Casual moviegoers won't care for this, I think, mainly because it is unfinished, but a more advanced cinephile will surely fine things to praise and surely be disappointed that the film went undone.

RATING: 5.5/10  Almost a '6', but I can't even go that high. A great story, a great idea, but the short length and the missing pieces held it back from going higher.


February 18, 2015  11:05am


  1. I somehow missed the pisting of this one..Sorry for no imediate comment.
    It's been a while since I saw it, and memory is fading.. but I deidedly recall finding it more than OK... Certainly, as you say, a good breeding ground for pondering total eveil / total good.. and all the greys in between. And what we would have done finding ourselves in a similar situation.
    I think I'd go quite a bit higher.. but not enough to in anyway call this a 'disgree'

    1. I have a feeling that this one will become totally forgettable to me in the long run, although I didn't mind it and wished Munk could've finished it.


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