Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rose/Roza (2011)-Review

Director:Wojciech Smarzowski

Synopsis: In summer 1945 Tadeusz Mazur, an officer of the Armia Krajowa and veteran of the Warsaw uprising, whose wife was raped and murdered by the Germans, moves to Masuria, a region in former German East Prussia, which became part of Poland as a result of the Potsdam Agreement after World War II. He visits Róża, a widow of a German Wehrmacht soldier whose death Tadeusz had witnessed, to hand over her husband’s possessions. Róża invites Tadeusz to stay at her farm to protect her against marauders and the brutal rapes she had previously experienced in the lawless atmosphere of postwar Masuria. From this partnership of purpose, slowly respect and love arises - a "frowned-upon relationship" attracting the "unwelcome attention of the new Polish nationalists as well as the notorious Soviet NKVD". While Róża is regarded a German by the new Polish authorities, thus facing her expulsion, Tadeusz wants her to declare her Polish nationality as many Masurians did in a "humiliating nationality verification procedure" –Wikipedia

Review: Rose is set in post World War II Masuria, where the retreating Germans destroy everything in sight, while the advancing Russians plunder everything as their rightful winnings, following a war in which they refused to help (Warsaw uprising).  If you can sit and think through the undiluted and unvarnished brutality depicted by Smarzowski, you will be rewarded with a film that tells the tale of a hero rather than a victim, a survivor’s tale. It speaks about atrocities suffered by the Masurians, rather than whine about it. The prologue set during the doomed Warsaw uprising, where Tadeusz witnesses the rape and murder of his wife, sets the clawing, yet caressing tone of the film.

The minimal and ominous background score matches the mood of the film perfectly. The cinematography is nearly perfect. A greenish-grey tone is present throughout the film, which matches its sense of despair and brutal inhumanity. Because of this, the lighter moments of the film appear unreal, dream-like and fleeting. The actors gave naturalistic and intense performances.

“Don’t forget, you are Masuren,” says the pastor to the congregation. “Without you this land will be nameless”. But to stay, they will have to become Polish. The Polish regime managed to do what the Prussians had failed to achieve; creating a German national consciousness in Masurians.

Throughout the film, the director speaks to you in an adult-to-adult conversation. You can almost hear him say, “Look, you are an adult. You will be able to understand what I am trying to say without the aid of props or melodrama, won’t you?”. Tadeusz’s attempt to hide his Armia Krajowa identity is mirrored in Roza’s attempt to hide her Old Prussian identity. Masurians are destroyed by several regimes’ attempts to impose their nationality upon these ancient people, yet Mazur remains one of the most common surnames in Poland. Likewise, Roza is destroyed in body by the fiends who seek to replace her will with theirs, but her spirit remains unconquered, alive and triumphant. 

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