All wars tear nations down. Casualties in these wars are everyday people. Rarely do the leaders, who start these wars, die in these wars. At least the early days of humanity, leaders who wage the war actually fought in the war. Now a days with advent of science and technology, world leaders sitting thousands of miles apart, can drop a bomb & kill civilians on a remote nation without having to actually witness the casualties in person. Some people opine that the ability to carry out signature strikes makes it easy for leaders(really??) to kill at whim, without having to fear political backlash.
Even though it’s all gloomy and bloody during war, humanity has a knack to come together (no matter how short the duration is). People tend to help each other & care for one another. When one’s entire surroundings are ravaged, one tends to let go of his/her prejudices about other people. People are seen for who they really are and not for what they own. Will there be people, who exploit even these dire situations? Yes, they will always be. Focusing our attention on these exceptions, will lead us to lose faith in humanity (no matter how slim it can be).
Not many of us have witnessed the horrors of wars in our lives. A small percentage of us might have read some books or some documentaries about wars. But for a large percentage of people, movies are the only way to witness the troubled history of wars. Movies have a great way of constantly reminding us of our not so glorious past. Movies about the last 2 world wars are dime a dozen. One such 1980s Polish movie about the aftermath of Second World war is “A Year of Quiet Sun”.
An American army man, who has nothing to look after in his homeland, is on duty in Poland : a country in shambles after the horrendous actions of the Nazis in particular & the world war in general. He comes across a poor polish woman (one among the millions forced to live in poverty due to war), who nurses her sick mother & supplies bread to bakery, but also paints pictures. What happens when these two people meet form the crux of the story.
This is not a run of the mill Man meets Woman & happy ending love story. The movie is as much about the surroundings as it is about the Woman & the Man. They form the foreground of Director’s (Krzysztof Zanussi) gloomy picture, while the war’s horrific aftermaths form the background. Theirs is a love not bound by confines of language; as neither of them speak the language of the other nor they share a common spoken language. What their mouths cannot do, their eyes and hearts do it for them.
When a catastrophic event harms your life beyond repair, you will doubt even the small happiness that you might experience post-catastrophe. If all you experienced for a prolonged period is pain and suffering, even a momentary happiness might make you feel guilty. For the Woman this small tinge of happiness is the Man’s love. Her guilt leads her to ask the priest whether everyone has the right to be happy or only some do.
Though the Man has not had any catastrophes in his life, he didn’t have any joy either. He admits to having lead an empty life until he met her. He finds in her the person who could help him fill the emptiness of his life with love, while she finds in him the person who could help her experience small bouts of happiness amidst the prevailing gloom. They find solace in each other.
Just as the quiet sun’s presence on a cold winter day soothes us, the unspeakable love between these 2 characters warms their chaos surrounded melancholic lives.
- Watch it for yourselves to see whether the solace lasted forever or not
- This commentary in no way could justify the beauty of the movie.
Movie : A Year of the Quiet Sun
Streaming on : Netflix
Cast : Maja Komorowska as the Woman, Scott Wilson as the Man
Release year : 1984