The Fabulous Journey of Balthazar Kober | Chicago Reader

The Fabulous Journey of Balthazar Kober

Wojciech Has's opulent and sometimes surreal 1988 historical spectacle is typical of the Polish director's later work: set in a turbulent period of European history (in this case the Reformation), it follows a kind of spiritual traveler as he confronts the difference between illusion and reality, past and present, life and death. Balthazar is a young man whose vision of the archangel Gabriel leads him to study theology; he meets up with his dead parents and with Satan too, and the film becomes a pleasantly bewitching stew as well as an amoral jumble. Has's ambitious attempt to blur the distinctions between opposing states finally falls short, overwhelmed by a structure that heaps vision upon vision to mind-numbing excess.

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