Artykuły > Film > Sexmission – recenzja
Directed by Juliusz Machulski
Main characters played by Olgierd Łukaszewicz (Albert),
Jerzy Stuhr (Max),
Bożena Stryjkówna (Lamia),
Bogusława Pawelec (Emma)
Wiesław Michnikowski (Excellency).
Year of production – 1984,
“Darkness. I see darkness”. says Max right after waking up. One of the nurses
informs him that this is a normal reaction after hibernation. Hibernation?!?
Albert – a biologist, who wanted to contribute himself to science, and Max – a man who sought after popularity and money, had been chosen to try the new invention of Dr. Kuppelweiser. They agreed to have their bodies frozen for 3 years and, if the experiment goes well, to become the first people who survive such a long state of anabiosis. The experiment was tested on a monkey, prior to that. The year this scientifically significant event occurred was August 9, 1991.
During Max and Albert’s hibernation a terrible war took place. Another invention of Dr. Kuppelweiser, a negligently made bomb – intended to destroy the enemy – proved to be fatal for man’s genes. The masculine part of the population gave up the ghost. The Kuppelweiser’s radiation from the “M” bomb forced women who survived to move underground, and to build cities in the old mines. The development of a new way of procreating, parthenogenesis, allowed them to reproduce without the need for men. They ate synthetic food and took pills that turned their sex instinct into career-oriented approach. Before the emergence of the two unexpected guests – Albert and Max – the whole “country” flourished. Everyone knew their duties, with all female citizens united under the command of an old lady they called Excellency.
After the discovery of Albert and Max’s freezing chambers and defrosting them some 54 years after they’ve been put to hibernation, the women divided into two factions: one group – the Genetics, wanted to do some scientific experiments on, as they referred to them – extinct mammoths and use their bodies as a source of nutrition; the second group – the Archeo wanted Albert and Max to be naturalized. Naturalized? Well… they wanted to operationally enlarge their breasts and, this could be drastic to some readers – castrate them. None of these options were very appealing to our main characters. What other choice they had but to try to escape – to get to the surface of the Earth.
They barely escape with their lives from the operation tables. One of the scientists, Lamia, decides to help them. She steals environmental suits with fish tank looking helmets, which allow people to survive one hour in the radioactive environment, and the key to a tunnel that leads to “freedom”. When they finally get out to the surface they see a destroyed, burned landscape. Albert starts running and bangs his head into, what he thought to be the surrounding landscape. He takes his knife out cuts a hole in what proves to be a “wallpaper”. They all come through it and find themselves on a beach. Lamia, who spent her whole live in the caves, starts playing in the water. Albert and Max begin to walk in the opposite direction. Slowly they are running out of oxygen. Suddenly Max notices a stork. If it can live so can we! – he screams. They take off the environmental suits and continue on their journey. Meanwhile one of the security officers chases them. There is only one, because there were no more environmental suits (director’s digression on very common situations in 1980’s when it was impossible to buy or “get” certain things in stores and even if things were available – it wouldn’t be enough for everyone standing in lines).
To their surprise, in the middle of the woods they find a cottage house. They come in and start feeling like at home. Finally they can have some decent meal. Max teaches Lamia how to eat a croissant. At the same time Emma, the officer, also runs out of oxygen but she is scared to take her “fish tank” off. Albert, who notices her forces Emma to throw away the environmental suit. Later both men are trying to teach ladies how to take advantage of their femininity. Soon after they hear strange noises coming out of the closet. They realize that what appeared to be a piece of furniture is actually one of the elevators from the underground city. The person who comes out of it turns out to be the Excellency herself. Unaware of the visitors she starts to undress. She takes off her blouse and (!) her breasts. She actually is a man. Max gets mad – the same person who wears fake breast, wanted two of representatives his own kind sterilized!
I had to be crueler then them or they would suspect something was wrong! Excellency tries to protect himself. He starts explaining that the radiation wasn’t as serious as it was originally assumed. There was a great panic in the beginning but since women adjusted themselves to living in mines there was no point in changing it. It was also much easier to control these people when they were stuck underground. Max and Albert get an idea how to renew the men population. They dress as women, go back underground, and find cloning laboratories where baby girls are grown. They add some sperm to every tube. They hope that this time the epidemic of masculinity will not be destroyed. The movie ends with a humorous scene showing a nurse changing diapers when to her utter surprise, she notices that what she thought to be a girl is actually a boy.
A substantial part of the movie shows Albert’s and Max’s adventures while they are wondering around the underground country, looking for the places to hide from security officers and the “police”. Viewers are able to see exaggerated class differences in the all-female civilization even though officially all members of the society should be equal (notice similarity to “Animal’s Farm” by George Orwell). Women in this movie represent the repressed citizens under communistic regime. The Excellency stands for the totalitarian government – while she pretends to be part of the system, she is actually the exact opposite. She imposes restrictions on the citizens, however she herself is not bound to obey them. While the entire population is forced to live under horrible conditions, she is free to enjoy the goods in excess. This parallel between the structures of women-ruled nation and communistic Poland is so obvious that it is hard to believe that the communistic government in charge in 1984 didn’t stop the production or at least censored some parts of the script. It also explains a large success of the movie, as it was played in the times where the issues just discussed were the main reasons for frustration, and a sense of helplessness among the citizens of Poland.
Another positive thing about the movie is that it entangles political context with comical dialogues between the characters. This provided not only for a comical relief during viewing the movie, but it was actually a break from the gray, monotonous reality of the lives the Poles were forced into. Finally the most important aspect of the movie is that it offers hope – as mentioned before Albert and Max succeed in defeating the all-female system. People watching movies tend to translate cinematic situations onto real life, and it was no different in this case. The very thought that the communistic system can be conquered, was enough to redeem any shortcomings of the movie.
There was next to nothing of the camera action, not only because of the limitations of the equipment, but also due to the fact that the film revolved primarily around the dialogue. The imperfections were mostly of financial matter, as the movie was realized under very tight budged, it inadvertently employed hardly any special effects, nevertheless, it was still loved by anyone who watched it. After all the production was not intended to be a science-fiction movie – but rather a mirror, a metaphor for those times.