The Saragossa Manuscript

To spark up or not to spark up? That is the question posed by watching Polish director Wojciech Has’s literary epic which is re-released in all its three-hour, mind-melting glory. A loose adaptation of Jan Potocki’s colossal eighteenth-century tome, this rambling, flamboyant and incoherent ‘head movie’ should be approached with caution by anyone who hasn’t got any drugs in their system. Infusing a similar unearthly cadence
to the swashbuckling genre that Jodorowski did to the western with ‘El Topo’ (one of few films with which this bares any comparison), Has’s strikingly photographed and thematically dense film uses a mischievous performance from Zbigniew Cybulski as a Belgian officer traversing Spain during the Peninsular War with which to string together a succession of tales, anecdotes and dreams which touch on themes of honour, class, betrayal and theology, and are mostly the result of someone being force-fed a potion from a chalice fashioned from a human skull. Krzysztof Penderecki’s percussive free-jazz score muddies things further.

Release details

Release date: Friday December 14 2007
Duration: 182 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Wojciech Has
Screenwriter: Tadeusz Kwiatkowski
Cast: Zbigniew Cybulski
Kazimierz Opalinski
Iga Cembrzynska
Joanna Jedryka
Franciszek Pieczka

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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simoninhackney

This was long my favourite film. A brilliant and brilliantly acted succession of tales connected by the travels and travails of a wandering officer in 18th century Spain. This is truly one of the great comedies!

simoninhackney

This was long my favourite film. A brilliant and brilliantly acted succession of tales connected by the travels and travails of a wandering officer in 18th century Spain. This is truly one of the great comedies!

rsillima

This is a masterpiece of narrative that is circular -- long before Thomas Pynchon got to same. It was a great cult hit in the 1960s and the DVD is well worth owning.

rsillima

This is a masterpiece of narrative that is circular -- long before Thomas Pynchon got to same. It was a great cult hit in the 1960s and the DVD is well worth owning.