Here’s a little bit of Don Saas blog irony for you. One of the movies that I have at home from Netflix right now is Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, Ran, which I’ve never actually seen, but one of the first Kurosawa films that I ever watched was Rashomon, a story about the investigation of a murder told from radically different points of view. The irony arrives in the fact that the film I just watched, 1956’s Shadow, tries so desperately to channel the style and themes of Rashomon but fails miserably at any attempt of matching Kurosawa’s genius or the original films unique entertainment. What it delivers are three semi-interesting vignettes loosely tied together in ways that barely make any sense and wrapped up in what has to be called one of the worst subtitle jobs that I have ever seen in my entire life.
Shadow is the first bit of Polish cinema that I’ve ever seen, and I’m not giving too much away when I say that it doesn’t leave me expecting too much from the nation. The film tells the story of a man who was seemingly thrown from a train and the investigation into his death. Except, that really isn’t what the movie is about. Instead, you get two detailed looks into the past lives during and after World War II of a Polish Nationalist freedom fighter trying to impede the German war effort and then a look after the War where members of the Communist Party try and fight a shady underground black market dealer. The last segment shows the actual “murder” at the beginning of the film, but at the end of the day, I had no idea how any of this was connected to anything else that happened in the film or what the real point of it all was.
I actually enjoyed the first two memories as, had they been fleshed out more, they could have been interesting thrillers in their own right. However, they were exercises in stylistic film making and nothing more since there isn’t a semblance of a coherent plot holding this whole film together. There weren’t any real connections between the stories despite occasional teasing that there might be, and there wasn’t any sort of higher meaning to be gained from the whole film. The cinematography could be pretty decent at times but that’s really about all I can say well for the film. This film can be avoided.
Final Score: C