SOUP (1974)

Director: Zbigniew Rybczynski
Year: 1974
Time: 8 mins
Music: Eugeniusz Rudnik
Sound of Eye: It seems that paranoia is one of the main features of a totalitarian state; let us hope that it is also a sign of its imminent fall. Apparently censored by Polish authorities, Soup (Zupa) appears to be a surreal piece with no overt political criticisms of any sort. A man enters a building which we've seen collapsing and re-erecting in the beginning. Once he gets in, he opens the door again and sees himself outside, drowning in a beautiful blue sea. It's just a dream, fortunately. Getting out of bed, he takes care of his oral hygiene and catches an annoying fly, which he grinds and serves as breakfast. A woman who lives with him wakes up; she carries obvious signs of sensuality, which seem to define her. While having breakfast, she apparently refuses the meal and prefers to chew the man's face. In return, it seems, she offers him her carnal self. They get, or got, married, an union which is suggested to represent her dissolution (alienation?) in him. Soup now enters into a series of repetitions: he keeps hunting flies (for their nourishment, I suppose), eating his soup and licking stamps; she keeps opening and closing a widow, undressing and smoking a post-coitus cigarette. The repetition of these gestures suggests the tedium of domestic life. And something is wrong with it: there's a wrecked train in the soup (not a fly...) and we see an image of a broken railroad, leading to disaster. Finally, the woman tries to take the soup outside the house (read it as you wish), but she falls into the abyss that awaits her in the outer, non-domestic space (and which we had seen in the dream sequence). Visually, Soup is, like most early Rybczynski films, stunning:  stark color contrasts seem to have been painted over black & white photos which were then set in motion, creating the illusion of a collage. The electroacoustic score offered by Eugeniusz Rudnik - legendary Polish sound-engineer and composer, but hardly celebrated outside Poland and minuscule circles in France and Italy - is equally impressive and very appropriate for the screen action: a fast-paced collage of everyday bruit, distortion and chopped melodies that highlights both the surreal and the too-real of the Soup experience. It does seem strange that the film was banned, apparently for an unfavorable view of Polish reality. If my reading is correct, however, Soup is rather a reflection on the aporias of modern life, in which we are often forced to chose between the unbearable tedium of Fordian repetition and the dangers of a psychic or moral abyss that lies outside. That's just human, perhaps too human, but I don't think any censor would ban that.

1 comment:

  1. Thats a brilliant comment on a fascinating work of art that left me puzzled after watching. Cheers.