Wojciech Has - The Hourglass Sanatorium: Restored Edition (1973)

Director: Wojciech Has

A mind-blowing work, the cinematographic equivalent of all Mahler’s symphonies put together -- International -- Film Guide

Terry Gilliam would make films like this if the studios would let him -- Empire

The Hourglass is a fundamental milestone in the history of the cinematographical language, an absolute masterpiece -- Le Monde

The Hourglass is a mind-blowing work, the cinematographic equivalent of all Mahler's symphonies put together -- International Film Guide

There are many films that have been described as dreamlike but few remain worthy of the description for their full feature length. Hourglass Sanatorium, however, is the (sur)real deal -- Film4

Full frame-by-frame restoration and fully remastered soundtrack, funded by the Polish Arts council. Restored version of Has' psychedelic masterpiece.

A young man named Joseph (Jan Nowicki) visits a dilapidated Sanatorium to see his father Jakob (Tadeusz Konrad). On his arrival, a sinister doctor informs him that his father had stopped breathing but hasn’t died yet, perhaps due to Joseph’s arrival which may have halted time in the sanatorium. Joseph undertakes a strange journey through the many rooms of the sanatorium, each of which conjures worlds composed of his memories, dreams and nightmares. Adapted from a collection of short stories by Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz, The Hourglass Sanatorium dispenses with traditional narrative, fashioning an audiovisual mosaic that blurs the line between reality and fantasy.

As in The Saragossa Manuscript, Wojciech Has fashions a cinematic universe composed with byzantine sets, hallucinatory images and a gallery of grotesque characters. However his magical-realist vision of pre-WW2 Poland is tinged with the sober consciousness of the violence that would follow and the recreation of Joseph’s childhood in a Jewish ghetto, foreshadowing the Holocaust.

DVD spec: 1973 / PAL DVD 9 Dual Layer / Colour / 16:9 / 119 minutes / Stereo 2.0 / Polish with English subtitles / Licensed from Jeck Films

Blu-ray spec: Picture: 1.85:1 HDTV 1080p / Sound: DTS-HD MA 2.0 / Region: All / Format: BD50 / 125 minutes / Polish with English subtitles / Licensed from Jeck Films

Cast & Credits: Jan Nowicki, Tadeusz Kondrat, Irena Orska, Halina Kowalska, Gustaw Holoubek, Bozena Adamek

Awards: Cannes Film Festival (1973) Special Jury Award Winner / Cannes Film Festival (1973) Nominated Palme d'Or 

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