The Big Animal film review


DVD Release: 2000

The Big Animal is a charming and hilarious feat of Polish filmmaking. Director and co-star Jerzy Stuhr, has created a true gem, working from a script by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski (Three Colors Trilogy). I may be biased as an avid B&W fan, but it’s beautifully shot by cinematographer Pawel Edelman (an Oscar nominee for Roman Polanski’s The Pianist), particularly the final wintry sequence shot at the Warsaw Zoo.

Zygmunt Sawicki (Stuhr) and his wife (played by Anna Dymna) are bemused, to say the least, when a camel, having apparently been abandoned by the circus it was traveling with, turns up outside the front gate of their home. They soon become quite attached to the gentle beast, especially Zygmunt, who begins the quirky ritual of haing one-sided conversations with it while they stroll through the small town. Children of the town seem quite taken with this most unusual pet as well at first. But petty jealousy, ignorance, intolerance, and greed spoil the Sawickis’ new ownership, and soon Zygmunt grilled by the town council members and angry picketers supplant themselves in his yard.

The story is so refreshingly small-town and simple, you can’t help but root for the Sawickis’ and the beautiful creature, as the proclamation is made, ‘the camel must go!’ Zygmunt’s reaction to all of this ranges from outrage to confusion and, ultimately, sadness and grief.

The Big Animal is filled with heart-felt moments, such as when the camel hums along as Zygmunt practices his clarinet or it lingers docilely outside the kitchen window as the couple eat dinner.

A new DVD of ther film has been released on September 26, 2006, that includes a 30-minute interview with Jerzy Stuhr.

In Polish with subtitles

Review by Rene Carson ©

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