Cold War: DVD and Blu-ray
Polish writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski’s follow-up to his low-key masterpiece ‘Ida’ charts an ill-starred romance over a tempestuous period, running from the end of the 40s to the beginning of the 60s.
Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) is a jazz-loving pianist and one half of a duo of musical directors, the other half is Irene (Agata Kulesza), his lover. Together they roam the Polish countryside in search of singers for a folk ensemble, which has been set up by the authorities to tour Europe promoting traditional culture. On one such excursion Wiktor spots young woman Zula (Joanna Kulig), not necessarily a natural singer but charismatic and passionate. As they travel the continent, visiting cities on both sides of the Iron Curtain, an affair commences.
When the Soviets hijack the troupe to use as a propaganda exercise, Wiktor defects, but Zula stays on. Cut to around four years later where Wiktor is working as a pianist in a Paris nightclub and in a relationship with bohemian poetess Juliette (Jeanne Balibar). A brief appearance by Zula in Paris sets the affair in motion again.
It’s stunningly photographed in crisp back and white, while an immaculately selected range of music from folk to classical from jazz to rock and roll, is skilfully deployed to convey the milieu and characters’ state of mind. A blast of Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around the Clock’ is particularly effective, sending a jolt of modernist electricity to the unfolding events.
The leads are excellent with Kot’s Wiktor exuding a matinee idol glamour, and Kulig’s capricious Zula a firecracker energy.
Despite a brief running time, the picture achieves a rare thematic richness, with Pawlikowski economically rendering the story like a fine pencil sketch. As with Wiktor’s beloved jazz it’s sometimes the omissions that are as eloquent as what remains.
Extras included a Behind the Scenes and Behind the Music features, and the ‘Two Hearts’ music video.
Cold War is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.