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Smuga cienia 1976
Description: Andrzej Wajda's English-language movie of a novella by Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, aka Joseph Conrad, about a young boy in his first command as a sea captain. A series of crises prove incredibly hard for his fresh authority, for the sea is curiously becalmed and the team is weakened by feverish malaria. When the first mate's fear convinces many that the ship is haunted and cursed by the malevolent spirit of the previous captain, the young boy gotta cope with their superstition as well as the conspicuous absence of much-needed medicine.
Released: 06 Sep 1976 Director: Andrzej Wajda Writers: Joseph Conrad (story), Boleslaw Sulik, Andrzej Wajda Actors: Marek Kondrat, Graham Lines, Tom Wilkinson, Bernard Archard Genres: Drama
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Smuga cienia Reviews:

It's a shame that this English-speaking movie is fully unknown in the US due to its unavailability. It's one of the nice adaptations of Conrad to film. The first part, on land before the sea voyage, was filmed on zone in Burma with some really fine British actors, particularly the actor who plays the older captain who gets him the job (I'd like to know who that is). The photography, especially the test of color and light, is extraordinary and Wajda captures the sense of a true zone and time. (It really could be seen on the large screen.) This is about one of those Conrad voyages where nothing goes right. It's a young man's first experience as captain: his ship becalmed, an ailing crew, and a half-mad first friend who claims the ship is jinxed by the former captain. While the essence of the story--a dead calm and nothing happening--is a hard topics to film, Wajda is up to the task and the movie is engrossing throughout. And the dialogue isn't plagued by the tin-ear that than can occur when English is not the director's first language. Just a terrific job all around.


'The Shadow Line' is about an able, clever young seaman who resigns his position, only to obtain unexpectedly the command of other ship after the death of its captain. This early, land-set section is perhaps a tiny plodding. The interaction of the narrator with different another characters, and the features of how he comes to assume his captaincy, serve in Conrad's novel to deepen our understanding of him, to see both his strengths and weaknesses, and observe how he was both ill- and well-prepared for leadership. Wajda tends to err on the side of mere scene-setting, failing to invest scenes that should easy have been reduced without affecting the essential narrative with the thematic and psychological significance achieved by Conrad. An additional, mild annoyance is the over-the-top mugging by John Bennett as the supine keeper of a boarding-house; fortunately, it's a tiny part, and compensation is provided by Martin Wyldeck (an actor quite unknown to me), who is very enjoyable as a wily old mariner with a rather donnish demeanour.Once the storyline takes to the seas, all reservations fade, for what follows is magnificent cinema. It manages to capture the sense of being at sea as well as any film I know, including the perfect 'Master and Commander'. What makes the difference here, however, is that whereas most ocean-set movies either depict the ship's struggle vs the awesome, hostile elements of storms and towering waves, or delight in the bracing freshness and freedom of having a fair wind at the sails, 'The Shadow Line' says the storyline of a becalmed ship, barely drifting through the water, its team sweltering in the oppressive heat and laid weak by illness, their fate possibly in the hands of the malevolent spirit of their late captain. It's an unusual proposition for a cinematic entertainment: stillness, silence and accumulating claustrophobia. In lesser hands, the effect should easy have been dull. But the fine performances (including that of a young Tom Wilkinson - although he looks middle-aged even here) and the sharp cinematography (sometimes vivid to the mission of unreality) enable the power of Conrad's tale to be conveyed surprisingly successfully.The performance of Marek Kondrat in the main role is extremely impressive: authoritative, yet retaining the sense of doubt and inexperience so crucial to Conrad's (self-)portrayal. Taking the form of a retrospective 'confession' the ebook deals with the emotional development of the protagonist, his traversing of the 'shadow line' between youth and maturity – a change that entails both loss and gain. Conrad's narrator is significantly anonymous; this gesture towards universality is strengthened by the frequent test of impersonal 'one', as in 'one thinks', 'one does', etc. At the same time, the creator allows us to the read the tale as a coded autobiography, with the figure of the young, sea-struck Pole a ver of his own younger self – and the older, wiser narrator looking back on his rite of passage as a ver of the 60-year-old novelist. The story's significance is thus simultaneously general and particular, both universal and individual. The movie adaptation pushes the autobiographical element further by naming the character 'Joseph Conrad' (and I wonder if the lead actor's name is entirely coincidental); the youthful captain's conduct in command is a presage of the literary genius to come. Conrad's whole oeuvre (including the another books, such as 'Heart of Darkness', that Wajda considered filming) is thus in part a product of these early experiences; the passage into leadership and maturity (though not necessarily wisdom), the passing of the shadow line, is the crucial development that enables nice literature - and nice cinema - to be created. If only more literary adaptations displayed such clever engagement with their source texts instead of being content merely to illustrate them according to the genteel standards of decorum and respectability.



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