What to Expect: COLD WAR (2018)

By OGT Blog Squad Volunteer Elizabeth Knutson.

Playing this week (Feb. 8 – 14) at the Old Greenbelt Theatre is Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, winner of this year’s Cannes Festival prize for Best Director; European Film Award for Best Film of 2018; and Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. Filmed in black and white and set in post-war Poland, Cold War centers on two lovers—an introverted man, director of a state-sponsored song and dance group, and a confident, energetic young woman who auditions and joins the ensemble. Pawlikowski tells the turbulent, emotionally powerful story of the passion they share, and the art and politics that define their lives.

The movie is vibrant with music and dance, ranging from authentic folk songs in Polish mountain dialect; choral and dance performances on stages in Poland, Berlin, and the former Yugoslavia; to jazz in Paris nightclubs of the 1950’s, including songs of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, and early rock ‘n roll (Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock). Several songs which recur in different styles throughout the movie, including the extremely beautiful Dwa Serduszka (Two Hearts), and Loin de toi, leave a lasting impression.

Cold War also offers a rich array of foreign language song and speech: Polish, Russian, German, Serbo-Croatian, Italian, and French. The narrative unfolds simply, through music, poetry, and images: haunting white snowscapes; a bustop at a lonely intersection in the middle of country fields; a Paris bateau mouche moving slowly down the Seine, passing lovers seated on a bench in the distance.

Pawlikowski’s film offers much to think about. What is the meaning of authenticity in art and life? Who do we become when we cross borders, change cultures, translate our feelings and thoughts from one language to another? What can we see when we cross to the other side? In the end, the director has said he feels the film resonates so well because it’s a love story: “My idea of filmmaking is making something magical and drawing people in…”

Showtimes, trailer, and more on the Cold War film page.

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