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‘Choose the Impossible’: Wojciech Has reframes Prus’s Lalka

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This article considers the relationship between Wojciech Has’s self-proclaimed desire to ‘choose the impossible’ and both his selection of Bolesław Prus’s late nineteenth-century novel Lalka/The Doll for adaptation in 1968 and the mode of adaptation chosen. The quotient of ‘impossibility’ attendant upon bringing a novel of this length within the confines even of a film of ‘super-production’ dimensions is accentuated by the attempt to reconcile Prus’s realist narrative with the stylistics to which Has is most indebted, those of the non-narrative and oneiric movement known as surrealism. The surrealist foregrounding of objects in the frame corresponds to their fetishistic enchantment in the eyes of a Benjaminian flâneur, who is both the director employing tracking shots and his mise en abyme image in the protagonist, the merchant Wokulski, whose love-object, the aristocratic Izabela, is also ‘impossible’. Melancholy and masochism are also diffused between director, character and the character type made possible by the invention of cinema, who vanishes behind objects that have more life in them than he does.
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Keywords: Flâneur; Polish cinema; fetishism; melancholy; super-production; surrealism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Western Ontario

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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