Rediscovering Jerzy Skolimowski

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John Moulder-Brown and Jane Asher in Deep End (1970)

Recently Turner Movie Classics played two of director Jerzy Skolimowski’s terrific but often hard-to-see films, Deep End and The Shout. This seems to have created a sudden surge of interest about the director’s work and I received a few comments and notes asking about the availability of his movies after making a brief comment about Deep End on Twitter.

My own experience with Jerzy Skolimowski’s work is minimal and I’ve only seen three of his films including his pivotal cult classic Deep End (1971) which is a troubling coming of age tale about obsession and misplaced passions starring Jane Asher in one of her best roles along with a very young and very cute John Moulder-Brown. His unusual and slow-paced psychological thriller The Shout (1978) is also worth a look and explores the dark power of sound. My memory’s a bit hazy about this one since it’s been decades since I’ve seen it but it stars some great British actors including Alan Bates, John Hurt and Susannah York. And last but not least, I also saw Skolimowski’s powerful political drama Moonlighting (1982) which features Jeremy Irons in one of his earliest roles as a Polish worker trying to survive in London while revolution brews at home. The last film is probably the least interesting but even it had some exceptional moments mainly due to Skolimowski’s ability to create and sustain an uneasy mood and an ongoing sense of dread even when nothing of particular interest is happening on screen. All three films impressed me but for one reason or another I‘ve never taken the time or had the opportunity to see any of Jerzy Skolimowski’s other movies.

It seems that Bavaria Film International is currently working on restoring and releasing Deep End on DVD and it should be available sometime this year so if you didn’t have the opportunity to catch it when it played on TMC you should be able to see it soon. According to Hollywood Reporter the DVD will feature commentary by the director and a remastered soundtrack by Cat Stevens and the German electronic band Can.

In 1991 Jerzy Skolimowski took an extended break from directing and he has only recently started to make films again. His latest movie is called Four Nights with Anna (2008). It garnered some critical praise and won a few festival awards in Poland as well as Japan but the movie is not available on DVD in the US yet. Skolimowski is currently shooting a political thriller about a member of the Taliban called The Essence of Killing that stars Roman Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle Seigner along with Vincent Gallo.

When Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End finally gets released on DVD I’ll try make note of it here or over at Twitter. I usually post bits of news & information on Twitter that isn’t really worthy of a lengthy blog post and lately I just don’t have much free time for writing lengthy blog posts. If you’re not using Twitter you can still follow my occasional “tweets” by subscribing to my Twitter RSS Feed.

9 thoughts on “Rediscovering Jerzy Skolimowski

  1. Peter Nellhaus says:

    If and when Deep End comes to DVD, I’ll let you know how it holds up for me. I saw it theatrically when it first came out and saw it a second time theatrically not too long after that. The poster looks like someone is confusing Skolimowski’s film with Deep Red.

  2. Mike D says:

    For those of you who missed the recent showing of “Deep End” on TCM and/or can’t wait for the DVD, I found the movie at YouTube:

    I’m enjoying it very much so far. Jane Asher is a looker, too bad Paul McCartney didn’t marry her in the 1960s. Cheers!

  3. Kimberly Lindbergs says:

    It’s on youtube in parts? I’m as excited about that news as I am about the Universal Vault DVDs. Do these idiots who upload entire movies to youtube realize that they’re hurting the chances of the film being restored and released with commentary from Bavaria International?

    Oh well…

  4. Michael Brooke says:

    If you can handle PAL video and are unfazed by Polish imports (I use http://merlin.pl), you can get six of Skolimowski’s Polish films in English-friendly editions. ‘Ferdydurke’ is the least interesting, despite a cast including Iain Glen, Crispin Glover and Robert Stephens – Skolimowski admitted that he didn’t really know how to translate his favourite author Witold Gombrowicz into film. ‘Four Nights with Anna’, though, is a superb return to form, and something of a quasi-sequel to ‘Deep End’ in that it’s also about a man’s obsession with an unattainable woman.

    But the real genius of Skolimowski’s work is found in his first four all-Polish features, which established him as a one-man New Wave over there and which more than deserve comparison with their better known French, British and Czech counterparts. The Poles have put them out in a box set that’s cheap enough to compensate for indifferent transfers and less than perfect subtitles.

  5. Jeremy says:

    I missed TCMs showing of DEEP END, so I really hope that DVD does happen. I love the film and would love to replace my lousy full screen VHS copy…oh, and I freaking love this shot of Bowie and Liz Taylor on the side panel here.

  6. Kimberly Lindbergs says:

    Michael – Thanks for the info. I’m not able to fork over the money to buy his other films right now but I hope they get released in the US sometime in the future.

    Jeremy – The DVD release sounds like it will be pretty spectacular and I’m looking forward to it a lot. The print they showed on TCM seemed to be higher quality than the video copies floating around but I’m curious what the film will look like once it’s restored.

    And I’m glad you like the pic of Bowie & Taylor! They’re the patron saints of Cinebeats. 😉

  7. robertmonell says:

    I saw DEEP END in New York City theatrically when it first came out. He’s really has a unique style. I also would recommend BARRIER, his 1966 masterwork which I saw at an arthouse cinema in the late 60s. It’s unlike any other film I’ve seen. It would be one of my candidates for a CRITERION COLLECTION SE.

  8. robertmonell says:

    I saw DEEP END in a arthouse cinema in New York City when birst came out and was very impressed. He has a truly original style. I would also recommend his 1966 abstract masterwork BARRIER, which deserves an SE on THE CRITERIOR COLLECTION. I’ll definitely get the DVD of DEEP END.

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