He studied cinema in France in the late 1950s; in the 1960s, he served as an assistant to Polish film director Andrzej Wajda.He made his feature directorial debut in 1971 with “The Third Part of the Night (1971), an adaptation of his father’s novel. To my mother.”) By that point, Zulawski had fled Poland, where communist authorities arrested him and censored his politically charged horror film “The Devil” in 1972.
An insatiable reader, Zulawski derived most of his work from novels, seeking to find the depth of psychology and metaphysical investigation in cinema that had previously only been achieved by literature — or perhaps painting — as reflected in 1985’s “Mad Love,” a wild reimagining of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot” that marked his first collaboration with future wife Sophie Marceau.
Even those films that weren’t labeled as overt adaptations turned out to be densely laced with ideas from and references to ambitious modern writers, to the extent that a full appreciation of Zulawski’s work practically demands a graduate degree, or else reams of footnotes and supplemental reading.
Though Zulawski’s work had a capacity to disturb audiences, frequently toying with the very notion of perversity, it also displayed a wicked sense of humor.
He used literary allusions like in-jokes, and never worked in strictly literal terms — as evidenced by the illusion-shattering behind-the-scenes footage that runs over the end credits of “Cosmos,” during which he invites audiences to examine the artifice of the filmmaking process.
In addition to son Xawery, he is survived by a son, Vincent, that he had with actress Marceau in 1995.
If you’d told me in high school that the acne-ridden cooking apprentices with whom I took the bus every day would become the alpha males of my Parisian nightlife ten years later, I would most likely have burst out laughing.
Firstly, because my personal interest in food—already negligible at the time—saw few miraculous developments during my four years of higher education, throughout which I survived exclusively on Cheetos, first-rate tarama, and Bolinos.
Andrzej Zulawski, a Polish director who spent most of his professional life in France after irking the Communist government at home, died Feb. Zulawski’s son Xawery, himself a film director, wrote on Facebook late Tuesday that his father was “terminally ill with cancer and undergoing intensive therapy in hospital in Poland.” Fox Lorber announced acquiring all North American rights to his final feature, “Cosmos,” which premiered in competition at the Locarno Film Festival, where Zulawski was awarded best director.
Zulawski was known for an idiosyncratic approach to storytelling and films characterized by “explosions of violence, sexuality, and despair,” according to website Culture.pl, which also noted that “the vision of the world portrayed in his films has been described as tragic, shocking and hysterical”; his methods yielded from actresses including Romy Schneider, Isabelle Adjani and Sophie Marceau some of the best performances of their careers.
Many had considered Zulawski’s career finished after the commercial failure of 2000’s “Fidelity,” sparking something of a reassessment from a new generation of critics with the release of “Cosmos,” of which said: “Spinning a web of erotic and psychological intrigue, Polish provocateur Andrzej Zulawski dares audiences to make sense of his first film in 15 years.
Knowing what to expect, Zulawski fans have been waiting since 2000’s ‘Fidelity’ for just this chance to be left dangling, whereas mainstream auds would sooner stick to more conventional entertainments.” Zulawski was born in Lvov, Ukraine, but moved with his father Miroslaw to Czechoslovakia and later to Poland.