Hands Up!: banned, on the run | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Hands Up!: banned, on the run 

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Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski combines drama, documentary, and personal essay in this 1981 feature, a masterpiece made entirely on its own terms. The project originated in 1967 as a nightmarish satire about the communist ruling class; it contained some of Skolimowski's most striking visual metaphors but so angered party officials that they banned the film and forced the filmmaker into exile. During a brief period of liberalization the ban was lifted, which allowed Skolimowski to create this second film contemplating the repercussions of the first and incorporating some of the original footage. When the 1967 movie finally arrives onscreen, it's filtered through his bitterness and alienation, beginning in the middle and continuing out of sequence, with some scenes tinted brown or green. Ironically these distancing tactics heighten the emotional impact, and what began as a political provocation becomes a generational statement about the fate of art under totalitarianism. In Polish with subtitles.

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