Taking place in a pre-war Poland, Andrzej Wajda's The Birch Wood tells the story of a sprightly young man who comes to stay with his brother on his farm out in the forest. The young man is dying of tuberculosis but is very much in love with life, constantly playing the piano feverishly for enjoyment. Getting involved with his brothers problems, he begins an affair with a young farmhand, whose husband may or may not have been having an affair with his brother's now deceased wife. Conflict ensues until a terrible tragedy begins to put everything into perspective. Andrzej Wajda's The Birch Wood is a beautifully realized story about human frailty and the importance of living life to the fullest. There is an aura of death surrounding the entire film, with Wadja throwing both subtle and not-so-subtle reference to the insurmountable certainty of eternal rest. The dichotomy between the two brothers is a fascinating one, with Wajda going against typical assumptions in showing a dying man whose reinvigorated by the time he has left, and a his brother, who is tortured by the death of his wife, welcoming death to his doorstep. This deep depression and angst has affected the brother's relationship with his daughter, who simply doesn't recognize the love he has for her buried beneath this anger. There is an incredibly powerful sequence in the film between these two characters where the father desperately tries to reach his daughter, unintentionally sending her into fearful tears. He is a man whose let his own depression and sorrow consume him, hurting one of the only people he still loves the most. The brother is really the centerpiece of the film's theme, a man whose let the loss of his wife completely shatter his existence, with Wadja unfolding a story that speaks to the importance of living everyday to the fullest. Andrzej Wajda's The Birch Wood might not be one of his most celebrated films but it's a remarkable piece of filmmaking that showcases the human consciousness as it pertains to death.
Leave a Reply.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.