Jan, a physicist, works as a meteorologist in a small village. His wife Anna is a local teacher. Marek, a promising scientist, Jan's colleague from the University, pays a visit. He tries to persuade Jan to return to the University. Unexpectedly, his suggestions meet with strong resistance. The film is Zanussi's first full-length feature film and it was considered an exceptionally interesting debut. The film pictures two life strategies. One is to use one's intellect to the utmost, a thrilling path that leads to wealth and respect; the other is to consciously seek the meaning of existence in refuting everything. By rejecting all amenities of civilization, Jan gets immersed in a simple, biological life, and submits to the passing of time that enables him to sustain a harmony between his own existence and the nature, of which he is a part. In the beginning, Marek fails to comprehend why a talented physicist would seek refuge in the countryside; he can hardly imagine a life without intellectual struggle and victory; later, he acknowledges his friend's choice.
The director seems to incline towards Jan's position. Jan's house and his village exist far from modern civilization, amidst wilderness whose harsh beauty is nevertheless enthralling. The vast snowy landscape with its black dots of houses and people is reminiscent of Breugel; Jan's wife is like the women painted by the Flemish masters. Her lush blond hair, pronounced features and hefty figure make her seemingly ugly while, like the landscape, she is filled with unexpected beauty. The debut film seems particularly mature and original, both in the intellectual and the visual plane.
Poland - 1969, 74’, 35mm, available in Full HD
Language: Polish with English subtitles
Produced by Studio Filmowe Tor