Lem 2021: Stanisław Lem on Film
  • June 4, 2021 through June 18, 2021

An unnerving adaptation … Lem drew upon his experiences in medical school to write a novel set during the grim realities of World War II (and swiftly suppressed).”

Film at Lincoln Center

Imagine One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest set in a Polish psychiatric hospital during the Nazi occupation. Such is the chillingly perverse scenario of this film, an adaptation of Lem’s first bona fide novel (written 1948, published 1955). Both novel and film utilize the asylum as a microcosm of society, but go a step further by placing that microcosm in a time and place—the early months of World War II—when the outer world itself had gone mad. The film anatomizes the beliefs, behaviour, and identities of both patients and staff, seeking some principle, whether in reason or unreason, to oppose to the implacable totalitarian solution of involuntary euthanasia. But, as if always already overshadowed by the inevitable apocalyptic end, all intentions and actions degenerate into something akin to a piercingly tragic, cruelly humorous theater of the absurd. A disturbing, thoroughly ambiguous picture” (Christopher J. Caes, Columbia University).

To stream this film:
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The film is available to stream through June 18.
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This film is available to stream in Canada only. 

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Haunting and vivid … Zebrowski’s patient film inches toward political violence, forcing the doctors to debate whether to flee, collaborate, or fight. To his credit, Zebrowski refuses to frame the choice as simple.”

Patrick Dahl, Screen Slate
Polish Cultural Institute NY