"SLOWLY" BY TOMASZ WOLSKI
When I first saw „Slowly” (2010) the documantary made by Tomasz Wolski it reminded me of a nearly twenty five years’ older documentary „The Family of Man” that Władysław Ślesicki shot in 1966, awarded the Golden Hobby Horse in Krakow and Golden Lion in Venice. Both films, apart from the subject – a picture of life in the countryside – are brought together by the similar poetics.
All the information on protagonists’s names, setting where the action takes place and the exact time have been omitted. Wolski and Ślesicki rather than in facts are interested more in a human being and his everyday life. At the same time both films express the same message, that first appeared as a manifesto announced by the authors of the „Family of Man” – photography exibition that clearly inspired Ślesicki – there is one man and one world, and in result we are all a big family that shares common fate, life experience and feelings.
Tomasz Wolski’s documentary is not build upon commonly established dramturgic outline. „Slowly” shows the reality, that is well known by the protagonists. We are whitnessing their everyday life, tracing their small rituals like lighting a stole, making the beds, feeding animals or cutting trees in the woods. What we get is a composition of discreet episodes which joined together make the picture of everyday family life.
The power of those quite loosely linked plots lies in their poetry that was grasped only thanks to director’s patience and distance towards the episodes he films. There is no judging nor the attempt of influencing the natural progress of events. This approach is noticed especially in the scenes of cutting the trees, making tea or the birth of the calf. What dominates in those pictures are long, static takes and soundtrack grasping only the sounds produced at the moment of shooting. Here dialogues are a rare narrative practice. This documentary, made without any stylistic ornamentation, aims to create the most objective portrait of protagonists’ everyday life. It stems from the strong belief that patient observation of commonness is key to reaching the poetry of true life.
In Tomasz Wolski’s documentary, just like in the „Family of Man” the camera never leaves the farm, whitnessing the events taking place in the house, farmyard and at the field. Only two short takes of the road leading home are testifying the existance of the outer, urban reality. We cannot distinguish brands or even shapes of the cars that are passing by nor notice faces of the passengers. Yet what is visible are the constant oppositions: slowly-fast, contryside-city, life-death (the film starts with the birth of the calf while in one of the last scenes there is a funeral procession moving down the road). Wolski, apart from directing our attention to he perceptron of this microcosm, shows that the outer world is existing as well.
That isolation from the reality that exists outside the farm pictures life of the protagonists in utter harmony and tranquillity, that is being so well emphasized by the beautiful takes of nature. One of the protagonists is waiting for the right moment for the cereal to be picked. Here only mother nature is the one that decides when the work will start. The labour is not easy. Only a child is allowed to rest longer than the other family members. But soon it will grow up, like a cereal, and then decide whether to live fast of slowly.