Attending the North American premiere of Andrzej Żuławski’s final film, Cosmos, only two days after his death was a bittersweet experience that I will never forget. When discussing Cosmos with a few people afterwards, the only thing that came to mind when comparing it was to Wild Grass, the 2009 masterpiece that came late in the over half-century career of Alain Resnais. Deeply imbedded in European culture, both Cosmos and Wild Grass are unrecognizable when putting them up against the early works of their respective filmmakers, but that surely isn’t a bad thing, as both films are two equally stunning works of art.
Coming out of Cosmos, it appeared that most people were befuddled with what they just experienced. I found myself much more enamored with the beauty of Żuławski’s film than I was confused by it. While Cosmos is nowhere near being an easy film to grasp, there was something about Żuławski’s approach that clicked especially well with me from the very start. Everything from the varied shot compostions to the richly-textured display of the landscapes that Żuławski utilizes throughout the film were enought to captivate me, but observing what are some of the most intriguing social interactions that I have seen in recent memory just made for even more captivating viewing experience.
Żuławski’s films almost always feature a hectic environment with some of the most fascinating characters that I have ever seen on film.Cosmos is no exception. The hectic environment of this narrative is a lot different than what Żuławski has presented in the past. It’s much more confined than his other work, but that is not to say that Cosmos does not branch out into other territory along the course of film. In fact, the film is always moving, whether it be from room to room or into the woods, but Żuławski does not have this bombardment of movement like he has been known to have in the past.
Cosmos finds Żuławski working at a much, much more smaller scale than what I was used to from him. Focusing a lot on his characters and their social interactions with each other, Żuławski structures his film from the view of his protagonist, Witold (played marvelously by Jonathan Genet), but that doesn’t stop him for analyzing everyone that he interacts with throughout the course of the film. Żuławski mirrors Witold’s warped perception of all those that surround him into what is one of the most dazzling delights that I could have ever imagined Żuławski to go out on.