Warsaw is the Paris of the East

Cold War

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

Cast: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cedric Kahn

Polish and French with English Subtitles

Polish British-based director Pawel Pawlikowski gives the cinematic world another beautiful masterpiece in all its stark complexity with the poignant film Cold War which was nominated for three Oscars at the 2019 Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Language Film.

As part of the 6th European Film Festival https://www.eurofilmfest.co.za/ which will have screenings at Cinema Nouveau in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria, South African audiences will get a chance to watch Cold War and admire filmmaking at its best.

Pawel Pawlikowski won the Best Director prize at the prestige 2019 Cannes International Film Festival and watching Cold War viewers can understand why. This film’s stark beauty is mesmerizing and seductive.

Pawlikowski’s masterful story centres on the epic romance of Zula beautifully played by Polish actress Joanne Kulig and Wiktor played by actor Tomasz Kot as they first encounter each other at the rudimentary auditions for a Polish folk song competition whereby Wiktor immediately spots the sultry Zula as a talent to behold. Cold War is set between the years 1949 and 1964 when Poland was under strict Soviet control and the harshness of this oppression is accentuated in the gorgeous black and white cinematography which heightens the plight between these two star crossed lovers.

Gradually as the action moves from rural Poland to East Berlin to Paris and then the former Yugoslavia and then back to Poland, Zula and Wiktor experience a tempestuous relationship laced with all the ironies of betrayal, fear and lust as the Soviet Party apparatus attempt to intervene in their lives and control the Polish folk singing group for propaganda purposes and to further push forward the agenda of Communism and Populism.

Joanna Kulig as Zula and in the background Tomasz Kot as Wiktor

Against this harsh setting, Cold War weaves a fascinating tale filled with brilliant music from traditional Polish folk music to Elvis Presley all gorgeously shot by two time Oscar nominated cinematographer Lukasz Zal (Ida, Cold War) as Zula and Wiktor‘s relationship is examined, dissected and reconfigured through the 1950’s when Wiktor decides to defect to Paris and work as a film musician.

Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a beautiful examination not just of a relationship between a man and woman through music and love, but also of the brittle and distrustful relationship between the Soviet Bloc of Countries and the West which defined the political stagnation which the film gains its distinctive title.

Cold War is a superb film and anyone interested in quality cinema should make an effort to see this flawless film, which gets a film rating of 8 out 10 and deserves all the international recognition heaped upon it. A cinematic gem.  

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