Andrzej Zulawski had to halt production on his sci-fi epic, “Na Srebrnym Globie” [Eng. Title: On the Silver Globe] due to objection from Polish authorities – they had also destroyed the sets and any material they could lay their hands on. The film never actually got completed – but was nevertheless released a decade later in 1987, as winds of change swept across the Eastern Block. The screenplay for roughly a fifth of the film had never been filmed, which is instead narrated by Zulawski himself using some roving outdoor footage of modern-day Poland.
A group of humans crash-land at a habitable planet they were heading for, and some of the crew die in the process. The survivors – three men and a woman, with no way of communicating with their space stations let alone harbouring thoughts of returning to earth, decide to stay put and foster their own new civilisation. They take turns bearing children through the lone woman to increase the population, but notice the newly born age significantly faster than themselves, and within a matter of years, they had already fathered several generations, which hints at widespread incest. The children are puzzled as to why their parents don’t die – and begin to perceive them as Gods, and a new religion is formed, later to even branch out into several sects.
Despite the fact that the ‘elders’ never acknowledge their ‘divinity’, they could do very little to persuade and change the course of events. Some later day humans also arrive at the planet and find a tribal population, and learn that some women are captured and forced to interbreed with a conquering bird-like species who communicate telepathically. The ‘Sherns’ treat humans as inferior, and the half-breeds called Morques are used as drones to attack humans and kidnap more women.
Based on a novel written by Zulawski’s own uncle some sixty years earlier, it explores in anthropological detail a different take on human evolution, religion, and civilisation itself. It is a film of its time, and in many ways resonates with the works of directors like Alejandro Jodorowsky and Federico Fellini, more so the former in its audacity and confrontational nature. Unfortunately the English subtitles are sometimes confusing and you’d have to rewind to try and make sense of some of the dialogues. But while there are instances of genuine insight, some of the ramblings appear to be of someone totally confused. But whatever it is, it is a magnificent piece of visual art – particular care had been taken with the cinematography and lighting to project this ‘alien’ world. This is not a low-budget production – a lot of effort had been put into the production design, make-up, and art direction – for e.g., even the fire in the planet is deemed to be of a different colour – and why not. The film is also a visual feast with highly stylised characters, stunning scenery, and the magnificent costumes which would have done a Fellini or Jodorowsky proud.
Most of the scenes have been put together with surviving footage, what they could keep away from the government’s hands – they had to be stashed away in studio staff and lab technician’s homes. As a result of this some scenes have jump cuts, sometimes with just a single word of dialogue in a segment patched with another to make a coherent sentence. And it is partly because of its incompleteness that the message it carries is far more potent than it may be otherwise. The film has been lovingly restored for posterity in the Zulawski box-set, from which the below compilation was made. For lovers of independent cinema, this will be an excellent addition to their library. Needless to say, Recommended Viewing..!
Amazon DVD Box-set