The Memoirs of a Sinner | Chicago Reader

The Memoirs of a Sinner

Wojciech Has's favorite topics—past and present, good and evil, truth and illusion—are the basis for this highly stylized 1985 Polish film set in 18th-century Scotland, but Has seems to have fallen in love with his own mannerisms. The film begins with a long take of a graveyard coming to life: the earth heaves open, a hand emerges, and some soldiers find the well-preserved corpse of a sinner. They coax him halfway back to life, and he tells his story, which the film illustrates with flashbacks. Great issues are at stake, but the shadows, corpses, and cobwebs become almost decorative, defusing much of the film's potential power.

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