History from Inside Out: The Vernacular Cinema of Jan Jakub Kolski

By Aga Skrodzka-Bates (SUNY, Stony Brook)

© Aga Skrodzka-Bates, 2005

The oppositions between the universal and the local, the communal and the individual, the traditional and the modern have guided the redefinition of Polish identity that has been taking place since 1989. The fall of communism spurred a flux of transformations in almost all aspects of public and private life, and subsequently initiated a call for a new set of values that would allow Poles to reinvent themselves. Defensive patriotism, the myth of Polish national martyrdom, and the somewhat inflexible emphasis on the historical past lost their previously unquestionable validity in determining group identity after the country gained back its sovereignty and opened up its borders. One of the most insightful film directors to contemplate and comment upon the process of rebuilding post-1989 Polish identity is Jan Jakub Kolski. As an artist who made his debut soon after the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, he offers a voice that echoes the concerns of a whole generation of Poles who were forced out of the identity built along the axis of national struggle and cultural perseverance, and who had to look for an identity that would accommodate the newly experienced multiplicity of choices, the awareness of contrasts and differences, the lack of singular points of reference (such as the Berlin Wall, for example), and most importantly the need to reexamine historical memory, which for far too long had been shaped by fortifying nostalgia.

Jan Jakub Kolski was born in 1956 in Wrocław. As a child, he spent a few years in the village of Popielawy, where he lived with his grandparents. This relocation to the countryside had a clear influence on Kolski’s imagination and proved to be the limitless inspiration behind his cinema. Kolski’s screen world, like Faulkner’s Jefferson or García Márquez’s Macondo, is a semi-fictional microcosm, where the law of the land clashes with modernization and the past is challenged by the present. Most of Kolski’s films are set in a generic Polish village (modeled after Popielawy)—a place that is clearly encoded as peripheral—and filled with a perspective that paints the rural environment as being both disconcertingly harsh and delightfully enchanting.

As a young man, in the 1970s, Kolski returned to Wroclaw, where he found a job at a TV station and gradually worked his way up to become a director of photography. Subsequently, he studied cinematography at the famous film school in Lódź. During the 1980s, he made twenty short films, many of which focus on nature and the idea of “place,” with its own intimate topography, physicality, and spirituality. In 1990 he made his first feature film The Burial of a Potato. Since his debut, Kolski has been incredibly prolific, releasing a new film every year or every other year. He frequently scripts, shoots, and directs his own films. Apart from filmmaking, he has directed numerous plays for Polish television and written short stories, a novel, and a book for children.

During the last fifteen years, Kolski has been one of the most significant film directors in Poland, not only because he is an auteur, creating powerful and easily recognizable films, but also because he was the first director to offer domestic audiences an alternative to the post-communist flood of Polish films plagiarizing Hollywood—Polish action films, whose champion and key director is Władysław Pasikowski. Instead of applying popular Western formulas to Polish reality, Kolski decided to utilize his experience of living in the Polish countryside in order to create films that are vernacular. This term is used here to signal Kolski’s complex engagement with the quotidian, the local, and the private, on both the level of form and content. Kolski’s vernacularism seems to arise from the artist’s disappointment with anything grand or totalizing, and from his sympathy for the alienated and culturally dispossessed elements within society. The etymology of the word “vernacular” points to the Latin verna—a home-born slave. I use it to valorize Kolski’s art as an ex-centric discourse that challenges official history (as well as the hegemonic forces that write it) and that provides a voice for the internalized Other (the silenced domestic servant whose efforts uphold the master’s status). This vernacularism, however, needs to be differentiated from the currently popular concept of “small fatherland” (the Polish term “mała ojczyzna,” coined by Stanislaw Vincenz), and from the surrounding discourse in the Polish media and arts that links this concept with regionalism, nationalism, and, more dangerously, with the idea of finding the center of the world in one’s nostalgically embellished backyard.

Different versions of “small fatherland” proliferated in the Polish arts immediately upon the dissolution of the homogenized worldview (and its equally monotonous aesthetics) imposed by the Communists. At the time, this concept might have served an important function of allowing Poles to regain their unique sense of place in the otherwise drab reality left by the dying regime. “Small fatherland” developed as one’s imaginary community, imagined against the pervasive and equalizing bleakness of Socialist Realism. Interestingly, the concept has gained even more attention when Poland decided to join the European Union, and the conflict of preserving national identity in the face of globalization became paramount. It has been a source of comfort (real or imagined) for those who managed to survive Communism by trying to ignore it, by holding on tightly to their memories of the pre-war geography, customs, language, and people. Characteristically, those who offered their visions of “small fatherland” (visual artists, writers, TV personalities, and politicians) would often link them with their (real or imagined) ties to the Polish aristocracy. This rhetorical move was common enough to be recognized as a symptom of a general desire on the part of the Polish people to diversify—by identifying one’s roots, establishing a class hierarchy, and locating a community tradition that was somehow older and more Polish than the communist “tradition.” From the beginning, however, much of the “small fatherland” imaginary tended towards somewhat sentimental reminiscences that idealized religious holidays, glorified the conquests of the grandfathers who partook in various Polish independence movements, mourned the sacred locations destroyed by the Nazis and Communists, and lamented over the general bastardization of the Polish way of life during most of the 20th century. Here, it is necessary to note that regionalism and ethnic identity had been celebrated for decades before the collapse of Communism by artists like Tadeusz Konwicki (in literature) and Kazimierz Kutz (in cinema). Without directly evoking the concept of “small fatherland,” their works centered around minority communities and the sense of the provisionality of the nation-state. One might see Kolski’s vernacularism as a continuation of this critically-inclined “peripheral vision.” [1]

Kolski’s cinematic universe is often discussed as his version of “small fatherland,” but there are crucial differences that make Kolski’s vision singular and its impact more complex than a romanticized expression of Polish identity and anti-communist values. His films showcase the particular and the local, but at the same time they manage to deconstruct the nostalgic impulse that would otherwise lock his vision into a dogmatic statement. Despite all the beauty and stylization, Kolski’s vernacularism self-consciously questions the localized with the historicized and the politicized. He avoids the elitism of the typical “small fatherland” construct by placing the identification subjects of his stories either on the margins of society or at the bottom of the class structure. With regard to Communism, Kolski conflates humor with condemnation and, thus, manages to revalorize the issue of Polish complicity with this totalizing system.

With rare exceptions, Kolski’s movies are set in the same village scenery, maintain the same raw visual and rhetorical style, and present a cast of the same actors, who speak in a dialect that is truncated, repetitive, often melodic, and which usually breaks for extensive periods of silence (filled with the folklore-inspired music of Zygmunt Konieczny). There is a common iconography that brings all of the films into one semantic space. That space encompasses varied cultural codes, of which the most visible are nature, Christian hagiography, magic, science, history, and paganism. This idiosyncrasy of Kolski’s microcosm happens to be its most appealing aspect, but at the same time it is responsible for the fact that Kolski’s films remain misunderstood by Western audiences. After seeing a retrospective of Kolski’s art at the Cambridge Film Festival, Tim Scott argues that “the lack of reference to Polish history … and eschewal of political focus is striking for a director born in 1956, and growing up under Communist rule. The films may contain obliquely historical metaphors—the personality cult of Johnny as a saint amongst the peasants in Johnny the Aquarius—but politics beyond the domestic sphere seems to interest Kolski little” (1-2). But it is precisely the politics and history within the domestic realm that receive the most remarkable treatment in the director’s creative endeavor. And if indeed there is an emphasis on historical metaphors, this is not because Kolski wants to circumvent history, but rather because he is more interested in the individual production and consumption of historical meaning. His attempt is to traverse the distance between history and the “ownership” of the meaning of history.

I disagree with those critics who claim that Kolski’s popularity stems from the utopic strangeness of his cinematic universe. These critics accuse Kolski of being insular and a-historical despite the fact that his debut feature film examines the difficult issues of post World War II anti-Semitism and the controversy surrounding the communist agrarian reforms, and all of his other films, in one way or another, confront Polish national mythology. Ewa Mazierska, in her article that places Kolski’s films within the tradition of magic realism, explains that Kolski’s engagement with history derives its “ethnographic authenticity” from the combination of Polish history with the director’s private history (1). She interprets Kolski’s biographical interjections as a part of the director’s plan to disrupt the coherence of official history. Furthermore, Mazierska sees the coexistence of various historical epochs within one cinematic narrative (what she calls Kolski’s “temporal mixture”) as being yet another strategy of disclosing history as a legitimizing, pseudo-scientific discourse, and not a transparent chronicle of the past (6).

The estrangement of history intertwined with the domesticated mystery of life (not to mention the director’s declared love for the work of García Márquez) invite the critic to anchor Kolski’s vision within the sensibility of magic realism. Here, Kolski has been following in the footsteps of other artists from East Central Europe (such as Bruno Schulz, Isaac B. Singer, Franz Kafka, Milan Kundera, and Jan Švankmajer) who have employed this stylistic mode because it seemed best to correspond to the experience of their complex socio-economic and cultural milieu. Furthermore, magic realism equipped these artists with the means to alter the ideological perspective from which they are forced to create. The East Central European strand of magic realism has been successfully utilized to preserve the tension between the literary and the historical by artists who often are accused of having withdrawn into the realm of the unbelievable, solely as a means of escape from the turbulent history of the region, of having fled into the glossy world of nostalgia that Frederic Jameson finds so hazardous in both modernism and postmodernism. Through the means of magic realism, Kolski and others illustrate their communities’ blend of the mundane with the arcane, of history with the indigenous chronicle.

At this point, it is important to stress that the latest studies of magic realism show that the term’s genealogy leads beyond Latin America of the 1940s and 1950s, back to the post-World War I Europe. In 1925, Franz Roh, the German art historian coined the term magischer Realismus (magic realism) to characterize the new direction in European painting that took artists away from Expressionism and abstract art back to Realism. There is evidence that shows that the term and the aesthetic of magic realism were then popularized among the members of literary circles. [2] After the traumas of World War I, during the time of great political and economic instability, many abstract avant-garde artists felt a need to return to representational art—the art of precision and objectivity. [3] However, the realism that those artists adopted was different from 19th century Realism. In the words of Franz Roh, magic realism (also referred to as New Objectivity) was to capture “[t]he clash of true reality and the apparent reality” (20). Roh believed that “[h]umanity seems destined to oscillate forever between devotion to the world of dreams and adherence to the world of reality” (17). Consequently, he found in magic realism a way to recuperate the objective world (somewhat obliterated by Expressionists and other modernists) in order to juxtapose it with its compulsive imitation, or impression, delivered by the human mind. This new kind of realism offered an insight into the nature of things by representing their “energetic intensity” (20). Roh emphasized, however, that this elucidating crystallization of things is always aware of having been “produced artificially” (20), of having been wrestled from “the midst of general becoming, of universal dissolution” (22).

In order to extend this dialectic to the subject of memory and history in Kolski’s work, one might say that magic realism abets his celluloid characters in the effort to remember a memory, while preserving its inherent fragility, and pointing out the “miracle of an apparent persistence and duration in the midst of a demoniacal flux” (Roh 22). In Kolski’s world, this “demoniacal flux” is the flux of history. The history of Poland has been demoniacal and at times absurdly funny, which Kolski’s tragi-comic films so well illustrate.

Thus, when analyzing Kolski’s cinema within the framework of magic realism, it is important to move beyond the usual association of magic realism with lyrical folk tales and aesthetic intoxication, and instead to focus on the subversive potential of this style. In “On Magic Realism in Film” (1986), Fredric Jameson sees magic realism as always emerging from moments of socio-economic transitions and the accompanying coexistence of multiple representational codes. [4] In his analysis of some Polish and Venezuelan films, Jameson points out that, on the surface, magic realist cinema is very similar to so-called nostalgia films. Both seem to pay a lot of attention to material reality and both offer a concentration on enthralling visual detail. But while the latter elicits from the viewer a consuming gaze (“a formal compensation for the enfeeblement of historicity in our own time”), the former engages the viewing subject with “the image in its present time,” and by doing so allows the viewer to encounter History—“in that case history with holes, perforated history, which includes gaps not immediately visible to us, so close is our gaze to its objects of perception” (303-304).

The critical tendency to lock Kolski’s vision of the world within the limits of fantasy derives from Kolski’s pronounced style and his proclivity to experiment with the camera (often making the cinematic apparatus visible). Those critics who see Kolski’s work as sheer phantasmagoria ignore the obvious elements of his aesthetics that do not allow for nostalgic consumption, but rather twist material reality out of its initial harmonious composition and throw it into harsh and often painful “being-as-becoming.”

One of the more memorable scenes where the camera alters the material reality into a site of real-life intensity, which has an almost metaphysical reference, takes place in The Burial of a Potato. Soon after the protagonist, Mateusz, returns from a concentration camp back to the village where he lived before WWII, he finds his family gone, his house ransacked, and all his leather-craft tools stolen. The population of the village sacrificed Mateusz and looted his property when he was taken to the camp. After the war, when against all odds, Mateusz returns, the villagers start feeling guilty and one by one give him back his belongings. The scenes that are most “magical” in the film involve Mateusz sitting in his empty house and trying his hand once again at leather craft, the occupation that he practiced before the Holocaust. During one of these scenes, the camera lingers between Mateusz’s large, very clumsy hands and his beautifully benign but traumatized face. Then it moves into a sequence of close-ups of each tool that Mateusz is placing into a dusty drawer. At this point the narrative stops, and the viewer enters an ontological moment of becoming, one that is prone to be missed in the usual flux of life, but here the medium of cinema arrests that movement (despite the camera’s uninterrupted motion) to articulate Mateusz’s struggle between the horrifying past and the possibility of a future. The intensity of the image, the presentness of emotion, the mute obstinacy of the tools that survived the war unscathed, all make this shot magically real.

It is easy to ignore how Kolski’s uncanny style actually works together with the content to build a world that has been neglected by cinema worldwide. Kolski uses cinema—the technology energized by the capitalist city—to tell tales of rural communities. The conflict between the urban provenance of cinema and the need to employ this inherently metropolitan medium to represent the periphery lies at the center of Kolski’s project. In The History of Cinema in Popielawy (1998), Kolski re-imagines the origins of cinema and depicts the birth of the cinematic apparatus as having taken place in a Polish village, only then to be sold to the Lumière brothers. This careful self-referentiality seems to be employed by the director in a critical effort to disclose cinema as one mode of representation—a mode supremely equipped to enhance the work of mimesis, but also a mode that is least conscious of the ideological slippage that accompanies the cinematic suture. In her analysis of the film, Ewa Mazierska focuses on this ambiguity of the medium: “… The History of Cinema in Popielawy is neither about simple remembering nor forgetting, but about their interplay, their dialectic. Similarly, cinema in Kolski’s film is both an agent of immortalizing and destroying history” (5).

Kolski’s emergence during the 1990s coincided with the time when Krzysztof Kieślowski’s career took an international turn—the time when Kieślowski reached outside of Poland and made films co-produced with France: The Double Life of Veronique (1991) and The Color Trilogy (1993-94), the films that made Kieslowski internationally famous almost overnight. In these films, Kieślowski was mostly preoccupied with universal values. One might argue that Kieślowski was always preoccupied with these issues: love, life, mortality. But in his previous films, such as The Camera Buff (1979), No End (1985), Decalogue (1988-89), these issues were tightly woven into the very specific historical and political milieu of communist Poland. In the 1990s, Kieślowski moved away from the strictly Polish context and further universalized his vision. It is significant that around that time, Kolski’s vernacularism gained immense popularity among Polish audiences, and surprisingly among the young moviegoers, who were by then somewhat tired of the grand tradition of the cinema of moral concern.

Kolski’s ever increasing popularity in Poland and Kieślowski’s recognition abroad is symptomatic of certain cultural shifts that were taking place in the 1990s. First, the ethos of the opposition fighter—a member of the intelligentsia or the working class—had to be reevaluated since freedom had been won and the role of a political dissident had been made redundant. Second, history, which until 1989 seemed to be the most immediate force shaping the contours of reality, lost its dramatic momentum and cleared the space for the story of the commonplace—the prosaic strife for happiness in a democratic but time-obsessed and alienating society.

Kolski is the main artist of the commonplace. He purposely sets his films in the periphery, where politics (but not history) often functions as entertainment rather than as a means of controlling people’s conditions of life. It is politics, the monkey business of politics to be precise, that Kolski mocks—as in his The Saber from the Commander (1995), where the director satirizes the ritual of listening to Radio Free Europe. In this film, largely devoted to issues of preserving the patriotic tradition, the protagonist, Jakubek, engages in a daily custom of listening to the underground radio station. On summer days, when the reception becomes quite clear, Jakubek needs to create a certain amount of “white noise” in his kitchen to imitate the Soviet authorities’ jamming of the station. Otherwise this ritual would not be complete. He whips a chicken tied to his table to elicit the right level of interference. This ritual is now a familiar element of the national mythology surrounding the anti-communist opposition movement. Kolski demotes that mythology, but at the same time he uses the scene to show how a grandiose political discourse got incorporated into the folklore of this particular village family.

Another feature that makes Kolski’s films prosaic and emphatically non-utopic is his placement of all sorts of social outcasts at the center of his narratives. Kolski’s universe is peopled with village idiots, whores, ethnic minority members, and the crippled. But this focus on the periphery and the human Other that occupies it does not make Kolski’s films a-historical. On the contrary, these films expose both Catholicism and Marxism as ideologies that demonize God and History. In his films, Kolski replaces man-against-history with man-through-history. In place of a lonely individual victimized by history, Kolski offers a picture of an intimate collectivity, whose members interpolate history (and religion) at the same time as they experience it. This representation of history as always renegotiated by its subjects makes Kolski’s vision inherently optimistic: it shows a way out of resignation and cynicism for a human being excluded from history.

Keep Away from the Window (2000) is perhaps the best example of the domestication of history that Kolski so powerfully creates on screen. The film tells a story of a childless Polish couple (Jan and Barbara) who decide to hide a Jewish woman (Regina) in their apartment to save her from the perils of the Holocaust. In the process, Jan and Regina fall in love and Regina becomes pregnant. She gives birth to a daughter, but the Polish woman, Barbara, who never managed to have her own child, takes Regina’s child and brings it up as her own. In the end, the helpless Regina escapes from the wooden wardrobe (a piece of furniture with multiple connotations in Polish cinema), but not from the memories of her sad habitation in it. She leaves the people who saved her life, but stole her child. In the final sequences of the film, about 15 years after Regina’s escape, we witness Jan and Barbara’s unraveling marriage, and the daughter’s investigation of her true origins. The investigation conducted by this young woman into her Polish-Jewish parentage leads the contemporary viewer of the film to ponder the difficult questions of Polish-Jewish relations during the Holocaust. The wartime fate of this awkward family unit provides a claustrophobic environment in which blood connections and extreme emotions force the characters to “assimilate” history.

One way that Kolski conducts this process of “assimilation” is through collapsing the religious barrier between the Jewish Regina and her Catholic hosts. The dissolution of the barrier happens gradually and is most evident in the stylistic register of the film. The image that organizes that register is Regina’s radiant face enveloped in darkness. This shot is purposely stylized to alienate her face, to point out the dark vacuum of her solitude, and to infuse the mother-to-be with a sense of mystery. Madonna-like close-ups of Regina’s face proliferate as her role in the household becomes simultaneously questionable and desirable. That image connects Regina with the Christian Madonna, and specifically with the painting that Jan (who is a painter) is not able to finish, and that Barbara prays to every night asking for conception. In the painting, the figure of the baby Jesus is outlined, but not filled in.

The painting keeps changing its meaning throughout the film. When we first see it, we immediately perceive it an image of Barbara’s infertility. Then, Regina takes the place of the Madonna in the painting, and Regina’s child, who will ultimately not be hers, takes the place of the absent baby Jesus. It is also possible to see Regina as the absent child, especially in the scenes that show Barbara taking care of Regina when she is sick during pregnancy, or simply in Freudian terms as the child of the original parental dyad. More importantly, the symbolic substitution targets the old prejudices between the Christians and the Jews; it emphasizes the Jewish parentage of Christ and challenges the damaging claim that was used by some to justify the Holocaust as the punishment for “those who killed Christ.”

Ultimately, it is the character of Barbara who has the courage to interpellate history. Upon finding out about Regina’s pregnancy, Barbara flies into a rage and is ready to denounce “the Jew living in her house.” But typically for Kolski, Barbara’s own body forces her to change her mind. As she is approaching the local Gestapo quarters, she is suddenly overcome by sickness. She vomits and—at this very moment—decides to incorporate Regina and her baby into her marriage. From now on she will pretend to be pregnant and when the time comes, she will “give birth” to Regina’s child. When Barbara returns home, Jan has already withdrawn—in this shot he can barely be seen in the deep shadows of a staircase. Jan gives in to Barbara’s bizarre plan and starts a slow decline into alcoholism. From this point on, the narrative tension oscillates between the two women. In her study of the trope of motherhood in Keep Away from the Window, Elżbieta Ostrowska observes that this peculiar intimacy between a Jewish woman and a Polish one subverts the cultural stereotypes of femininity usually assigned to these two ethnic groups. Ostrowska notes: “A notion of lack, introduced in the beginning of this film, recurs here once again and paradoxically unifies the two female characters, Regina and Barbara, who lead lonely lives overshadowed by the memories of the past” (179).

Interestingly, the site of viewer’s identification rests with Regina even when her screen presence fades into the darkness of the wardrobe. Many shots assume her point of view: the camera surveys the apartment and follows the married couple from the inside of Regina’s hiding place. These shots make the viewer one with Regina and show reality and history as a function of human interiority. In other shots, however, the camera transgresses Regina’s point of view and becomes personified. These sequences do not originate in close-ups of Regina’s face (as is the case in the identification shots discussed above), but they still sustain a subjective gaze. They are disconnected glances taken from behind furniture or from the inside of other enclosures in the apartment, but they clearly do not belong to Regina’s perspective because she is the object of looking. These shots’ obstructed framing imitates Regina’s hidden vision, but at the same time they are dissociated from it. The viewer becomes aware of the camera itself and of its work of representation. The “kino eye” registers reality from a vantage point that is trapped in a network of contradictory alliances (reminiscent of Regina’s own constraints). The apparent concealment of the camera begs the question: Whose side of the story does the camera represent?

In Keep Away from the Window, Kolski focuses on the intimate collectivity of a married couple and shows how history enters this collectivity very quietly but irrevocably. All three characters participate in recasting their beliefs and expectations. And, most importantly, this remodeling never reaches any consensus. History in this film is not a spectacle as it would be in a war film or a heritage film. In fact, it is through absence and silence that Kolski creates the feeling of historical change. It is also significant that this story of genealogy and inheritance defies the usual patriarchal frame: it is told from the perspective of the female fugitive and her illegitimate child. Indeed, most of the film is about the three women (Regina, Barbara, and Hanusia). History of the nation is problematized by familial politics, just as public history is being retold in the form of a family chronicle.

In all his films, Kolski emphasizes the conflict between the slow-paced daily existence of the locals and the turbulent forces of history. He celebrates and at the same time criticizes the endangered way of life in the provincial countryside. The region’s transition into modernity is depicted as a process of rare intensity, the completion of which is being continuously questioned by the people affected by it. One of the most appealing features of this cinematic universe is its inclination to deconstruct the binaries that shape the identity of a given community. This deconstructive impetus, along with the style that evokes the “structural disjunction of historical raw material” (Jameson 311), illustrate historical change as something that stems from the individual’s acute awareness of his/her interiority with regard to history.

Aga Skrodzka-Bates (Stony Brook University)


[1] I am indebted to Elżbieta Ostrowska for this insight.

[2] Massimo Bontempelli, the editor and organizer for the magazine 900, which was published in both Italian and French, popularized the term realismo magico in 1927 among European poets and writers.

[3] Irene Guenther who writes about magic realism in the Weimer Republic describes the pro-realist turn in the interwar period as follows: “It was an art that was firm in compositional structure and was, once again, representational. In reaction to Expressionism’s apocalyptic visions, heated color palette, utopian message, and the shattering disillusionment which followed the war, this post-Expressionist art concerned itself with the tangible real, the familiar. After the emotional fervor of Expressionism, as well as the horrors of the war and subsequent German Revolution, artists searched for ‘soberness’ and ‘freedom from all sentimentality’” (37).

[4] The postcolonial critics (Linda Hutcheon, Stephen Slemon) have theorized magic realism as a powerful artistic strategy that is used to question and re-construct notions of historical memory and cultural inheritance. Arguably, it is possible to consider East Central Europe as a post-colonial territory.

Works Cited

Bontempelli, Massimo. “Analogies.” 900 (Novecento) 4 (1927): 7-13.
Guenther, Irene. “Magic Realism, New Objectivity, and the Arts during the Weimar Republic.” Zamora and Faris, op cit. 33-73.
Hutcheon, Linda. “Circling the Downspout of Empire: Post-colonialism and Postmodernism.” Ariel 20.4 (1989): 149-75.
Jameson, Fredric. “On Magic Realism in Film.” Critical Inquiry 12. 2 (1986): 301-25.
Mazierska, Ewa. “Between the Sacred and the Profane, the Sublime and the Trivial: The Magic Realism of Jan Jakub Kolski.” Scope 29 Nov 1999.
Ostrowska, Elżbieta. “Between Fear and Attraction: Images of Other Women.” In Women in Polish Cinema. By Ewa Mazierska and Elżbieta Ostrowska.. Forthcoming: Berghahn Books, November 2005. 156-81.
Roh, Franz. “Magical Realism: Post-Expressionism.” Trans. Wendy B. Faris. Zamora and Faris. 15-31. Trans. of Nach-Expressionismus. Magischer Realismus. Probleme der neusten Europäischen Malerei. Leipzig: Klinkhardt und Biermann, 1925.
Scott, Tim. “Kolski at the Cambridge Film Festival Part 1.” 1996. Jan Jakub Kolski Homepage. 23 May 2005.
Slemon, Stephen. “Magic Realism as Post-Colonial Discourse.” Canadian Literature116 (1988): 9-23.
Zamora, Lois Parkinson and Wendy B. Faris, eds. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Durham and London: Duke UP, 1995.

© Aga Skrodzka-Bates, 2005