|Poster design: Leszek Holdanowicz|
A vintage KAVI 35 mm print deposited by Suomi-Filmi viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Pawlikowski's Poland), 26 May 2015
Tadeusz Konwicki's Salto is a dream play, a mystery play, a ritual, a seance. A stranger returns to a little town which may be a dream. He is an outsider looking in, but he fascinates everyone and becomes the center of the annual celebration which culminates in an ecstatic salto dance.
Zbigniew Cybulski is the stranger who may be a pilgrim, a prophet, and a miracle healer, or a mythomaniac, a compulsive liar, and a fake. In the conclusion his wife and kids appear revealing that there is broken plumbing and a sick child at home which the incorrigible husband has escaped.
The citizens stone the stranger who escapes, and the finale is a mirror of the opening: he wades across the river, witnesses nude bathing girls, and jumps into a moving train. The last vision is of a scarecrow on the field seen from the moving train.
Salto is a film of the absurd; it is enigmatic and existentialist. It is a film of poetry, conveying messages from another reality. It borders at times on the mannered and the pretentious.
The strange town may be like Skull Island in King Kong: it may be a nightmare. Anyway there is a curse. They tell the town has been removed from maps. There is a mystery here. Germans may have hidden their treasure into the tunnels below the city. There is uranium in the ground and a huge factory nearby.
Salto has been compared with Konwicki's novel A Dreambook for Our Time, but Salto is much more abstract and enigmatic, and as a film it is unfortunately far less compelling than Zaduszki. What these works (all I know from Konwicki) is that they share a sense of a fundamental torment. Many years have passed since the war, but traumatic images re-emerge as memory flashes: silent images of approaching partisan-executioners, flattened anamorphic visions of forward-marching murderous German soldiers. There are wartime explosives in the ground. Mysterious motorcyclists are an added threatening element. We are trying to climb a ladder without steps. Also in Salto there is a Holocaust dimension: one of the characters is the great Jewish actor Blumenfeld who has lost his memory.
The performances are again vibrant in Konwicki's direction. He knows that eyes are the mirror to the soul.
Wojciech Kilar's music is impressive and essential, from the haunting piano theme during the opening credits to the dance themes in the climactic celebration. The solo dances gradually escalate into a communal ring dance, and a full fledged musical production number.
Kurt Weber photographed both Zaduszki and Salto for Konwicki. The images are pregnant with high intensity.
The perfect print looks like it has hardly ever been screened before and like it has been struck directly from the camera negative. Here one can observe the fine soft detail, the peach fuzz of reality. The film has been shot in Academy, but the subtitles on this print have been positioned on the widescreen level, sometimes obscuring the mouth in close-ups.
The film is officially online (Salto na kanale Studia Filmowego Kadr w serwisie YouTube),
OUR PROGRAMME NOTE BY PETTERI KALLIOMÄKI