Apr 28, 2015
Admittedly, making fun of Polish people (or, more specifically, American Polacks) is an old favorite family pastime for me, so, in a sense it is kind of hard for me to take anything Polish seriously yet I cannot deny that the perennially changing Slavic nation has produced a couple obscure geniuses like novelist and poet Stanisław Feliks Przybyszewski, who was associated with both the decadent naturalistic school and Symbolism movement and who sired the classic occult text Die Synagoge des Satan (1897) aka The Synagogue of Satan. A comrade of Teutonic Satanic Renaissance man Hanns Heinz Ewers, who apparently moved around in the same occult circles, Przybyszewski mainly wrote in German since Poland was still part of Prussia at the time and he was certainly one of the most decadent literary figures of his time, but his literary perversity and innate ‘Polishness’ pales in comparison to the great Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (aka ‘Witkacy’), who was indubitably the most important artistic Renaissance man of his nation during the first half of the 20th-century and whose death via suicide upon the Soviet invasion was quite symbolic of the death of both aesthetic and individualistic freedom as a result of communist takeover. Although a decidedly debauched libertine dandy who loved devouring drugs and genitals from members of both sexes (though some scholars doubt his homoerotic excursions), Witkacy was a pan-Slavic nationalist and cultural pessimist of the quasi-Spenglerian sort who wisely feared that Mongol hordes would invade and colonize the Occident and turn it into a cultural wasteland plagued by collective slavery and aesthetic sterility. Indeed, such was the central theme of his third and arguably best novel, Insatiability (1930) aka Nienasycenie, which was adapted into the rather disappointing 2003 dystopian film of the same name directed by Wiktor Grodecki. Directed by a dubious dude who has dedicated his entire filmmaking career to creating hyper homoerotic films about underage teenage male prostitutes like Not Angels But Angels (1994) and Mandragora (1997), Grodecki’s pathetically politically correct Insatiability completely sanitizes Witkacy’s work by turning Mongol hordes into Aryan hordes and focusing almost entirely on the perverse sexual themes of the source novel despite the fact that they are more or less only incidental to the story. Luckily, at least one of Witkacy’s novels, Pożegnanie jesieni (1927) aka Farewell to Autumn, was adapted into one fairly worthwhile film (notably, some of his plays were also adapted into worthwhile works, including the bizarre arthouse horror flick W starym dworku czyli niepodleglosc trójkatów (1984) aka In an Old Manor House or The Independence of Triangles directed by Andrzej Kotkowski). Made not long after the long awaited death of communism, Pożegnanie jesieni (1990) aka Farewell to Autumn directed by Polish auteur and opera director Mariusz Trelinski (Lagodna aka A Gentle Woman, Egoisci aka The Egoists) is an insanely tragicomedic and innately iconoclastic indictment of the Polack aristocracy and the Catholic Church that depicts sexual degeneracy of the hetero and homo sort, drug addiction and alcoholism, racial and cultural deracination, and scheming seductive Jewesses, among other things, as the sort of vices that plagued the upper-classes and caused them to be destroyed with next to nil effort by the bolsheviks during the revolution. A delectably dystopian piece of culturally pessimistic philosophical celluloid disguised as a raunchy black comedy, Trelinski’s film is probably the most decidedly degenerate and aberrantly action-packed anti-communist flick ever made, thus making for a true enigma of celluloid history and a truly respectable tribute to Witkacy.
Opening with a tribute to its source writer Witkacy, which describes him as a “Philosopher and erotomaniac…Extravagant dandy, painter and writer” whose “works were compared to lunatic dreams,” Farewell to Autumn immediately sets a tone of absurdism that will ultimately help the viewer be able to more easily swallow all the senseless tragedy, misery, sexual dysfunction, cultural decay, nihilistic excess, and patent pessimism that will follow. As the film proudly reveals in regard to its firmly anti-commie stance, “It is a tongue-in-cheek analysis of society on the verge of destruction. It is the story about the chaos which brought to us 100 million inhabitants of Central Europe…the fate of being slaves of only one and “rightful” idea: The communism.” The lead protagonist of the film is a debauched bisexual aristocrat of sorts named Atanazy Bazakbal aka ‘Tazio’ (Jan Frycz) and he is torn between marrying a beauteous blonde Jewess who certainly does not look like a Jewess named Hela Bertz (Maria Pakulnis) and a somewhat banal blonde named Zofia Oslabedzka (Grazyna Trela). More than anything, Tazio seems to resent Zofia as reflected in his remarks to her, “…I hate you with pure, beautiful hate…And because of only that I want to marry you,” thus reflecting the protagonist's bizarre and seemingly sadomasochistic psyche. When Tazio goes to visit Hela at her yarmulke-sporting father’s large mansion, he finds her in bed with a candy-ass Persian prince named Prepudrech (Leszek Abrahamowicz), so he kicks the effeminate blueblood out and begins pounding at what is left of the Hebraic girl’s hymen (she claims to be a virgin, but that is dubious to say the least). During the middle of sex, Tazio randomly stops, complains “I can’t read Proust,” and then reveals to Hela that he is engaged to Zofia even though he is already engaged to her. After revealing his love for Zofia, Tazio grabs Hela’s pussy and passionately says to her that she is a “A rich, coarse, Jewish she-boor” and she absurdly replies “I am a virgin” even though she just screwed two different men in one night. Meanwhile, high-strung pansy Prince Prepudrech watches the two having sex outside while standing in the rain and screams at Tazio, “I will kill with no regrets. Like a dog, I will kill you.” Indeed, the next day, the two decadent aristocrats will duel for Hela’s hand in marriage. Meanwhile, Hela decides that she is going to convert to Catholicism, though she also considers converting to communism after Tazio leaves her sexually frustrated after failing to give her an orgasm, thus hinting that, contrary to what whack-jobs like Wilhelm Reich and useful idiots like Bernardo Bertolucci think, Marxism is born out of sexual discontent.
Undoubtedly, Hela’s rich father Belzebub Bertz (Henryk Bista) is a classic penny-pinching and morally vacant Jew à la Jud Süß who wants to auction off his baby girl to the highest bidder. When Daddy Bertz finds his daughter in bed with Prepudrech and she reveals her intention to marry the pussy Persian Prince, the old Talmud scholar gets angry and tells her he has chosen “two great marquises…Italian fascists” for her to marry (contrary to popular opinion, many Jews were originally involved with Italian fascism). After telling her father that she plans to convert to Catholicism and marry Prepudrech if he is not killed in the duel, Hela also attempts to coerce her father into converting, hilariously arguing, “Papa should do the same if only for business.” In a scene symbolic of how effeminate the aristocracy had become, both Tazio and Prince Prepudrech are incapable of properly using their firearms, with the latter even pathetically fainting like a little girl during the fairly absurd duel. Ultimately, the Prince gets lucky and shoots his comrade in the neck, though he survives. Naturally, Prepudrech and Hela and Tazio and Zofia marry in a large double wedding that is raided by overtly moronic and cartoonish communist revolutionaries who are eventually pacified after a charlatan priest comes out and waves a crucifix at them like they are vampires and they immediately cower like the collectivist-minded slaves that they are. As Papa Bertz accurately prophesizes during the wedding regarding his daughter and her three friends, “A terrible fate awaits those four.” After the wedding, a huge Dionysian party occurs where men openly perform cunnilingus on women right in front of everyone, debauched dames dance around naked while having champagne poured on their unclad bodies, and the two brides dance with one another in a highly eroticized lesbo fashion while simultaneously making threats to kill one another due to their mutual love for Tazio. As a piano player states in a melancholy fashion during all the debauchery, “We’ve reached the endpoint of bourgeois culture, which didn’t produce anything but doubt…in everything.”
Undoubtedly, Tazio is in doubt as to whether or not he married the right woman, as he clearly loves fierce femme fatale Hela, who tells him that he will have to fight for her if he truly wants her. Just like with the wedding, the party is raided by bands of indiscriminately murderous bolsheviks, but things get way more violent than before, with people being burned alive, shot, and run over with cars, among other things, though this does not ruin the protagonist's big day. Luckily, Tazio manages to make a great escape with the help of a friend on a motorcycle that is ultimately killed after getting his friends to safety. Instead of consummating his marriage with some honeymoon sex, Tazio pulls a Fassbinder and has sex with his middle-aged queer bud Jedrek instead of his wife on his wedding night. Before engaging in cross-generational sodomy, Tazio and Jedrek make reference to Nietzsche, most notably Beyond Good and Evil, which the two believe they are engaging in. Since the Bolsheviks have taken over, all the young aristocrats are forced into exile and decide to take a train to Switzerland, but Tazio is a no show at the train station because of his hard hedonistic homo night of cocaine, cognac, and cocks. Naturally, old queen Jedrek acts quite melodramatic about Tazio leaving and complains to him, “Tazio, I have only you and even this you want to take away from me,” to which the protagonist equally melodramatically replies, “Jedrek, don’t make a demoniac woman out of me.” Ultimately, Jedrek refuses to follow to Tazio to Switzerland, but later has a change of heart at the last minute. Upon arriving at the station, a self-righteous commie officer attempts to stop Tazio and Jedrek from getting on the train and ultimately the latter is gunned down like a dog by some rabid red comrades, thus leaving the protagonist irreperably shattered. Naturally, things only get worse from there.
Upon arriving in the snowy Swiss Alps, Tazio becomes so completely and utterly disillusioned that he absurdly remarks, “Maybe Jedrek’s one minute of life after five grams of coke had more meaning than my whole life.” To make matters worse, Hebraic whore Hela starts a fling with a Nordic ski instructor named Erick Tvardstrup (Waldemar Kownacki), who has no respect for pessimistic artists and describes the protagonist as being sick in both the mind and body. On top of the fact that Erick is screwing his beloved kosher cock-tease, Tazio absolutely hates sportsman and hatefully states to the Swiss ski champ during a heated argument that he firmly believes that sports are ruining the entire world, adding, “Your records are blocking the place in the newspapers for the serious art critics…In the literary journals and others.” During the same conversation, Tazio also reveals his hatred for both communism and democracy, wisely stating, “I’m am getting furious with the lies of contemporary democracy. Equal start for everyone…What moronic idea is this? Justice based on equality, hierarchy is the foundation of sound social life […] What is coming – it is a grey end with unpredictable consequences. A wave is engulfing us which will destroy all our values.” Of course, the protagonist is in denial that everything is lost, including the entire way of life he once knew, or as Hela states to Tazio, “What values? Don’t make me laugh! Do you still pretend to believe that we still have anything left?” Since he is full of rage and hatred as a result of his new sorry lot in life as a wealthy aristocratic artist turned homeless/jobless writer, Tazio has no problem brutally murdering Erick after challenging him to a duel by driving a sword straight through his thick sportsman neck. Of course, Tazio and Hela eventually begin having sex again and Zofia loses her mind as a result of her new husband's flagrant unfaithfulness. After catching Hela riding Tazio’s cock during an almost satanically salacious scene where the Jewess truly resembles an evil and lecherous demoness, Zofia drops a lantern while waving a pistol and sets the hotel they are staying at on fire. Completely heartbroken, Zofia runs away into the snow and Tazio attempts to chase her down while sadistically teasing her by begging her to shoot him. Instead of shooting her unfaithful lover though, Zofia turns the gun on herself, thus blowing off the side of her face and killing her instantly. Of course, Zofia probably opted to kill herself right in front of her husband to spite him, as well as to leave him with an undying sense of guilt for the rest of his already miserable life. When Tazio goes to see his wife’s corpse in the morgue, he is so shocked by Zofia's mangled corpse that he collapses.
Now a totally broke widower and persona non grata in Switzerland as a result of the dubious circumstances regarding his wife’s death, Tazio hits rock bottom and is forced to go back to his now new and hardly improved ‘proletarianized’ Polack homeland where he attempts to whore himself out to a communist government official, who ultimately offers him a a less than glamorous job as an official government snitch. After breaking down to the communist official by pathetically stating, “The Future is yours and I accept that,” Tazio is told by the Bolshevik bureaucrat, “So, you accept that we use you and then throw you away? So, you agree to be fertilizer? I am speaking with you that way as you’re intelligent.” Ultimately, Tazio refuses to be a bolshevik bitch and turns down the less than dignified snitch job. Meanwhile, Tazio begins a short-lived love affair with a 26-year-old girl that looks exactly like his dead wife Zofia, albeit with brunette hair. When his new girlfriend begs him to take her away from Poland, Tazio must admit to both her and himself that he is now a broke bum with no future, somberly stating, “But I have nothing anymore. I have no place to go. I have nothing.” In the end, Tazio does some drunken hiking while foolishly attempting to cross the Polish border, but he is ultimately caught by some faceless commie comrades that are hiding in the woods and is forced to quote poetry by Russian octoroon negro Alexander Pushkin to prove his devotion to the oh-so precious proletariat. After botching Pushkin, Tazio is reduced to groveling like the most pathetic of slaves and declares that he is, “only shit, I am not a man anymore. Do you understand?” and the Bolsheviks respond to him by putting a bullet in his brain and disposing of his corpse in a river. The film concludes with the following narration, “September 18th, 1939 when Poland was invaded by German and Soviet armies, Witkiewicz committed suicide. For sure, he had been aware that his prophecy was fulfilling. The witnesses testified that his face was calm and relieved.”
Undoubtedly, one of the most intriguing aspects of Farewell to Autumn is that, unlike the source novel, it depicts Poland under the anti-human hell of Marxist slavery, with protagonist Tazio’s experience acting as a sort of “what if” scenario of what Witkacy might have faced had he not killed himself during the Soviet invasion. Ultimately, the message of the film is that you’re better off killing yourself than living under communism, with Tazio dying in an uniquely undignified fashion and Witkacy’s suicide being glorified as a heroic act committed by a man who would rather be a rotting corpse than a living Slav(e). As a pan-Slavic nationalist who served as an officer in the Imperial army of the Russian Empire during World War I and lived through the so-called Russian Revolution in Russia and was eventually elected political commissar of his regiment, Witkacy experienced the rotten genocidal fruits of bolshevism firsthand and knew exactly what was awaiting his beloved Poland if the Soviets took over. As Harold B. Segel wrote in his essay Polish Romantic Drama in Perspective regarding the ultimate importance and validity Witkacy's pessimistic worldview, “Witkiewicz's Bleak prophesies of the future, unrelieved by the promise of messianic deliverance or the hope of an East-West, Catholic-Orthodox, Russian-Polish pan-Slavic symbiosis as advocated by Miciński, were fulfilled beyond even his darkest imagination by the events of World War II and its aftermath in Poland. The reality of totalitarian power in the postwar period from the consolidation of a Soviet-backed communist regime in the last 1940s down to the suppression in December 1981 of the most recent expression of the Polish desire for true independence and democratic freedoms – the Solidarity movement – provided a new impetus to the continuation of the debate over the Romantic past.” By Hebraic Hollywood standards, Farewell to Autumn could certainly be described as ‘anti-Semitic’ as the superlatively seductive Jewess character Hela is the most predatory of femme fatales and she has no loyalty to no one or nothing, as a pathological social-climber without roots or traditions who switches religions like wardrobes and who gets a kick out of getting her two lovers to try to kill one another. Of course, Hela’s father is no less flattering of a Jewish caricature as a seemingly incestuous miser who is willing to whore his daughter out to an Italian fascist count because he feels that it would be a great monetary investment for his family. Ironically, despite featuring subject matter and themes that would never be tolerated in Hollywood, Farewell to Autumn is easily the most accessible Polish film I have ever seen as a work that routinely mocks Hollywood genre conventions and classic works by Hitchcock (e.g. Vertigo). Indeed, despite its innate (meta)political overtones and quasi-philosophical essence, the film can also be enjoyed on a more superficial philistine level due to its incessant debauchery and dark humor. Not surprisingly, director Mariusz Trelinski won a number of awards for Farewell to Autumn, including the Andrzej Munk Prize and the Award of the Minister of Culture and Art of the Republic of Poland for best debut of the year. Undoubtedly, Trelinski’s film is unequivocally evidence that cutting edge, artful, and downright unhinged nationalistic films can be made that make the neo-vaudevillian comedies of Hollywood seem like infantile Freudian filmic feces. Indeed, as the work of not only Witkacy and H.H. Ewers, but also Gottfried Benn, Stefan George, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Ernst Jünger, Gabriele D'Annunzio, George Sylvester Viereck, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Fidus, and Yukio Mishima, among countless others, certainly demonstrates, the so-called “right-wing” used to always be at the forefront of all things delectably decadent and Farewell to Autumn is certainly a revival of this timeless tradition.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 9:12 PM
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