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April 13, 2006

Seven Days and Seven Scenarios: Understanding Kieślowski's Fascination with Numbers


Image Source: http://www.lafilmforum.org/past/Spring%202006/spring2006/5:28/SEVEN_WOMEN_OF_DIFFERENT_AGES_1978.jpg

Hi All,

Today was really a great opportunity in class as director and filmmaker Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz visited our room, showed a Kieślowski short, gave a small talk and answered student questions. It was interesting to hear some of the inside information, such as details about the film Strongwoman, that weren't put into the film due to time restrictions and legal reasons. Also, we found out, some things we observed superficially--like the technique of transitioning from monochrome to color in Children of the Revolution--actually had a more layered meaning that we first imagined . . .

. . . Maria informed us that she did, indeed, like to work with subjects that had to do with young people and the sense of naïveté that often accompanies the perspective of youth and idealism. She also gave us some interesting background on the story of Dekalog 8, which just so happens to be based on a true story. Maria said that Kieślowski actually changed the details of the "excuse" the family who turned out the Jewish child during the war to more "believable" reasons rather than the purely religious ones the actual girl the character Elzbieta is based on claimed to be true. All in all it was an educational experience.

Here are the technical details about the short (black-and-white) that we saw in class today. This footage is rare and the copy we saw was actually recorded from television (TVP). Also, it was not subtitled so we watched the film as it was actually intended to be shown.

Siedem Kobiet w Roznym Wieku [Seven Women of Different Ages]. Dir. Krzysztof Kieślowski. Telewisja Polska [TVP], 1978.

Some questions you might want to ponder:

1. Why did Kieślowski begin the film on Thursday? He could have begun on any day of the week, but he began on a Thursday rather than a Sunday or a Monday, for example.

2. How is the beginning of the film and the end of the film related? Does it come full-cirlce? If so, how?

3. Comment on how the ballet students are all at different levels for each day. It seems that that the younger, novice students are being (or need to be) overly pushed by their instructors while the older, more accomplished students seem intent on pushing themselves. Any remarks?

3. Does this seem like a discipline that one can "get into" later in life? Is there some significance to why the beginnnig classes had all children of the same age (why not mixed ages if it was a beginning class)? Do you think Kieślowski is drawing some kind of life-analogy here?

4. In the Three Colors trilogy: Red, White and Blue, Kielslowski made a film that symbolized the "virtue" underlying each color of the French flag. His number was three. In Decalogue, he played with the idea of 10, since there are 10 commandments in the Old Testament. In this shor film about ballet, he played with the number 7. There are seven days of the week and seven women. When Maria visited our class, she told us how Kieślowski wanted to have multiple (different) endings for the Double-Life of Veronique (also a number: 2) and have the different versions released in different cities, thus giving each city a different film on its debut. Why do you think Kieślowski has picked numerals and series as a theme to his work? Any guesses?

Did you see this short film? If so and you would like to comment, please leave your remarks below:

Best,

Lee

*Read more English-Blog Film Reviews HERE!


Posted by lhobbs at April 13, 2006 12:13 AM

Readers' Comments:

Professor Hobbs,

The film Seven Days and Seven Different Scenarios that Mari Zmarz-Koczanowicz showed to our class was bout ballerinas. In this film it started off by showing the less mature dances that were younger and as the days progressed so did the ages and dance skills of the ballerinas. The film was made in the 70s and the film picture was in black and white, which I thought gave the movie an edge. The ballerinas coaches seemed extremely hard on the dancers and pushed the to be and perform their best. The dancers also seemed very well disciplined.

The film also made it seem like the only thing that these dancer did was practice, practice, practice. Even though the film was not subtitled and was all in the Polish language you still could see and feel the emotions of the ballerinas and the coach who taught them. We have been watching other films that have taken place in Poland that were about young people standing up for what they believe in, but by watching this film it showed a different side of Poland. The disciplined, classy, and determination of young dancers trying to become their best.

LIz L.

Posted by: Liz L. at April 13, 2006 07:35 PM

Professor Hobbs,

In our last class, we had the honor and pleasure of having Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz visit. Whether we were adored her films to no extent or felt rather indifferent and unmoved by her works, I believe that we all felt a heightened sense of admiration towards quite an accomplished woman.

During the beginning minutes of class, she showed us a 10 minute short film by Kieślowski, a film maker who we had become familiar with through the showing of 'Dekalog 8'. The film shown by Maria followed the life of a ballerina. The film starts when the ballerina is around the age of 6 or 7. Throughout the duration of the film, the ballerina's in focus grow to different ages and become more successful and achieve higher levels of skill in the art of dance. Also as the film goes on, the ballerina seems to be working harder and harder and becoming more and more tired. At some points it may seem as if it is no longer something she loves to do for fun, but something she loves to live for.

This film showed the cycle of life. The ballerina danced all her life, and when she grew older, she decided to share her love with young girls and become a ballerina instructor. Although the outsider could assume many things from this film, such as my opinion of the ballerinas love for fun turning into a love to live for, the fact remains true that the film ended on a woman who loved what she lived for.

Human beings never honestly stop to enjoy the moment. Whether we are coming or we are going, we are always rushing to reach our next destination. In the process of life, we are forced to wait our turns, but sometimes we aren't patient enough. Due to this impatient nature which holds true to much of mankind, we often forget about the things that matter most; love, youth, fun, life. We never realize that the little things in life are what makes us whole. We often miss out on the defining moments of our lives, all because we are all dying to know, "what will happen next?"

Missy Z.

Posted by: Missy Z at April 13, 2006 11:50 PM

Professor Hobbs,

While watching the short film by Kieślowski, “Seven Women of Different Ages,” a lot of thoughts were running through my mind. As I watched the documentary in a different language, it allowed my mind to wander and create imaginative thoughts. The first thing that crossed my mind was, I know that ballet is a difficult thing to learn, and the hours of dedication required are unbelievable. I could never see anyone going through all of the things that ballerinas go through. The next thing I thought about was how the girls felt when their instructor was yelling at them. They must have hated it, and wished that she were a little easier on them. Since the film was in a language that I could not understand, a lot of creative visions emerged.

Youth seems to be a very important thing in Kieślowski’s life, since all of the films that we viewed were centered on them. Maybe he feels that the youth are our future, and are very interested in their habits and reactions. He may also document children, because he wishes that he could be a youth again. Maybe something happened when he was young that he wishes he could revisit. All of these things were going through my mind as I watched the film. One more question that I asked myself is, what does Kieślowski want the audience to feel when he makes a film?

When looking at Kieślowski’s work, I feel that he is trying to put the audience in the shoes of youth’s. I think that he wants us all to remember the days when we were younger. For people such as myself, I think Kieślowski wants us to stand up for ourselves and do what we want, if it is positive. I think that he wants us to revolutionize the world. I think that he feels we have a lot of potential, and that his films can spark something in our brains to happen.

I think that Kieślowski is a brilliant man, and I admire Maria for following him. I feel that he is a man of wisdom, and a lot can be gained from studying him. After watching “Seven Women of Different Ages,” I think that anything can be obtained with hard work. I saw how they prepared, and I admired their hard work.

Kashiff M.

Posted by: Kashiff M. at April 14, 2006 12:40 AM

Professor Hobbs,

In class on Wednesday, we were lucky to meet, Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz. She provided us with some great insight on how Kieślowski filmed about the reality around him and what was really going on. Maria then shared about her own films and her own perspective. She discussed about Strongwoman and how many things were left out of the film because of time. To know that there is more information about that story would make it so interesting to see again and to encourage others to see. She told us how she likes to film about children and teens and the world and issues around them. She then showed us the short film about a ballerina for seven days, at seven different ages.

I liked the film because it showed the process and the struggle of a ballerina trying to hold on the movement that she had, while adapting new things when it comes to dance. She also struggled with her body. I thought it was interesting that we watched the film with no subtitles. It made me watch the movie without understanding what they were saying, but it opened my eyes to observe it in another light. In a sense that just by watching the expressions and movements, you never really need to know what is being said.

I think it was a creative process to have us watch these films. Not only does it make us understand new ways of writing, but it also can make us understand a new way of seeing things. We got a chance to see the struggles and processes that people went through when they were our age. We got to see how other countries handle news and media and gossip. It was such a creative process that I would have never have understood if he explained it to us in the beginning.

Thank You,

Kelly J.

Posted by: Kelly J. at April 14, 2006 02:10 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Kieślowski, Krzysztof. Siedem kobiet wroznym wieku [Seven Women of Different Ages] was seen in class on Friday. The movie was presented by the guest speaker Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz. The movie was seen all in Polish with no subtitles. Even without subtitles you were able to get a good understanding about what was taking place throughout the entire movie. If you really sit down and really think about what was happening in the movie you will get the whole concept of the movie. The reason that the movie was presented before she gave her speech and answered our questions is because Kieślowski always before giving a presentation presents one of his short movies to get the audience intrigued and more background of what his films are like.

I really liked the movie Seven Women of Different Ages it showed us views from all different age ranges of individuals who took up dancing from young kids to teenagers to adults. They showed how the individuals trained and how the teachers ended up teaching them at the very beginning of learning to dance. There posture was very important to each of the dancers. Posture ends up making them what type of dancer they are at that time. With much practice they begin to learn and really take dancing seriously. Back then if you were dancing you had to take it seriously you can’t fool around this is because the teachers would not put up with it.

This movie gave me a better idea of what life was like back then in Poland. It also gave me a better knowing and idea of what it is to get to being a good dancer. It showed all different ages and each and every step it took to get to the final production. This movie was entertaining and had a very interesting plot that kept your attention because you kept jumping form one person to another and you wanted to find out exactly what the final outcome is to the girls/ woman.

Jennifer G.

Posted by: Jennifer Giuliani at April 14, 2006 02:29 PM

Lee,

In the film, Seven Women of different ages, the audience was presented with an insight look into the life of a ballerina and seven stages of her. There were seven characters in this film. This was of course done in part because it is nearly impossible to record the life of one woman using just one character. The stages of her life were also separated by days of the week. The week starts out on a Thursday for reasons unknown. In the first stage we find ourselves observing a young ballerina taken ballet classes under the command of a very fierce instructor. This continuous throughout her life until she then becomes an instructor herself.

It is clear that at the first stage, that the child is having a very fun time just taking everything in and tries to keep in her laughter whenever she is asked to repeat a ballet move or step. When she reaches her teenage years, she seems to be very confident in herself and that art of dance which she has grown up learning. However when she grows up a bit more, she becomes a bit self-conscious. She then begins to observe those around her and compares her own faults to theirs. It is easy to see that the confidence that she had before has vanished and instead been replaced with the realities of life. Realities that there are others far more talented than you are if you only let yourself open up to believing it.

As she gets over the self conscious ness wears off and a woman is born. One who accepts her faults and revels in her talents. Then a new phase begins. She starts to realize that she is getting older and tired of dancing. Her mind is not entirely on the sport. Perhaps she has grown tired of the competition and just wants to go back in time to a place in her life where there was no competitiveness and dancing was done for enjoyment. And so the woman ends her life as an instructor. Teaching young girls just what she once learned as a child.

-Emily S.

Posted by: Emily S. at April 14, 2006 02:55 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I thought the film Maria showed in class about the seven different ballerinas was well made, but the meaning was hard to understand. The meaning I pulled from the film was different than the one Maria described before she showed it. She said it was about life and how time goes by so quickly. It was that in a sense, but it wasn’t in the tone I expected.

I expected the film to be about how sometimes life goes by so fast and there is some regret on what wasn’t done with it or moments that were never captured. I expected that that the ballerina would get old and dream of they days that she could dance and be nothing at the end wishing she was more. Then in the end she would inevitability die making nothing of her time as an older person here on earth. I expected this almost the whole way through the short film until the last part where she was in fact teaching a whole new generation of ballerinas how to dance.

The way the film ended was a lot different than I expected. It was almost pleasing in a sense because it wasn’t what I thought. She didn’t live a life wanting to be what she once was. She was actually doing something to use what she learned and to still have fun with herself. I think the film was very inspirational. It said that even though you may get old there are still things you can do to feel alive in different ways.

Sam H.

Posted by: Sam H. at April 14, 2006 07:37 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The film “Seven Women of Different Ages” is about a process. It is the process of growing up. In this case, it was the story of a ballet dancer from the time of her childhood until she was an adult. I think that the point of this film was to show just how fast life goes by and we grow from children to adults. Although we could not understand what was being said in this film because it was not in English, it was not hard to figure out what was going on during the film because the images said it all. The age changes occurred very quickly, as the girl got older each day, not over years as she would have in real life, but the point was still received that life goes by very quickly. I enjoyed this film even though I could not understand what was being said. The images said it all.

Kelsey L.

Posted by: Kelsey L. at April 14, 2006 10:27 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Seven Women of Different Ages portrays the life a ballet dancer through seven different women. As each day passes, a new woman is shown, older than the last and a step further in her career as a ballet dancer.

The film starts with a young girl, in the very beginning stages of learning ballet. She is the pupil of a very strict instructor who is teaching her what she knows about ballet. The women that follow the young girl show the path the life of a ballet dancer will usually travel down. By the end of the film, the women’s careers have come full circle, and the woman that is shown is a ballet instructor.

This film could be used to show how life progresses and that most of the time, a person will end where they began. The lives of the seven women are shown in a way that expresses the process of life and how the life of a ballet dancer progresses through time.

Ali L.

Posted by: Ali L. at April 16, 2006 01:10 PM

Professor Hobbs,

After watching the short film, “Seven Women of Different Ages” by, Krzysztof Kieślowski, I was able to conclude and deliberate on many different aspects the film contributed. Two of the most evident was the critical changes the ballerinas went through from beginner to expert and the other is the how the film began and ended in reference to the ballerina’s career.

The ballerina goes through much instruction at the start of their career, therefore the instructor will harp on their every move. In order for the ballerina to become advanced she is strictly told how to position every part of her body. As the ballerina grows she works on her flexibility and strength in order to develop her technique. Once all the body is conditioned and primed to its peak, this is one the ballerina uses their potential in the entertainment market. As the ballerina ages there comes a point when their body is just not as agile as it once was. Therefore, as a master of ballet, they teach what they have learned. Each stage in the ballerina’s career is depicted in the film. We watch a child ballerina grow into the best ballerina they can be and then using their knowledge to inform other beginners. We see how the ballerina’s are pushed by their instructors and in turn push themselves to their physical best. It is evident that their life becomes ballet, and you see it more and more as the ballerinas get older.

The film begins with a child learning the basics of ballet. You see the instructor telling the girl what to do and how. As the child grows into adolescence you see her trying to do every thing correct as the instructor critics her. During the teenage years you see the ballerina trying to make her body perfect for the best ballet. Working on strength, flexibility and perfection that will some day make her into the best ballerina possible. As the ballerina reaches young adulthood, it is evident how the practice and conditioning paid off in her performance. It is also still evident how much practice she still does to maintain a perfect technique. When the years of practice and performance leave her, you see her using her skills and knowledge to teach the young girls how to be a ballerina. The film begins with the child learning and ends with what was once a small beginner to teaching the small beginners. This film does come full circle on that accord.

Kieślowski showed the different stages of a female ballerina. It was fascinating to see how much their attitude changes through out the years. They go from being pushed to pushing themselves to pushing others. The film showed how a ballerina’s life changes from year to year and how much work it takes. Kieślowski decision to use ballet was the best example to show personal emotional and physical growth.

Samantha V.

Posted by: Samantha V. at April 17, 2006 06:04 PM

Professor Hobbs,

During class last week, we got the pleasure of meeting Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz. In the beginning of class we got the privilege of watching a short film by Krzysztof Kieślowski that Maria brought in with her. The language in this film was all Polish and unfortunately there were no subtitles. This enabled the film to be interrupted in many different ways from many different perspectives.

The film started out on a Thursday with a young girl, around the age of 6, at ballerina dancing practice. It was obvious that she was too young to be fully focused on dancing, to her; it was just a time for her to make new friends and learn a talent at the same time. But in all actuality this was a key point in her learning, we can see this because her instructor is critiquing her every move. As the film went on to the next few days, this same girl grew older and began learning more intense dancing techniques. She went through shy stages along with very confident stages, like anyone else would while growing up.

Towards the ending of the film, around Wednesday, we see this young girl who has blossomed into a beautiful woman. She is now sharing her passion for ballet with young girls somewhat like what she once was. Although I am not positive about all that this short film is about, I enjoyed the fact that since there were no subtitles, everyone was able to interpret it in their own way.

Angela H.

Posted by: angela h. at April 18, 2006 10:59 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The short film, Seven Days and Seven Scenarios, does come full-circle. The girl shown on the first day is a very young ballet student whos teacher is very loud and pushy. At the end of the film, the girl has gone through her ballet career and has become the instructor. She teaches in the same manner that she was taught in as a young student. I think this manner of instruction is necessary in that ballet as a career needs much discipline and focus. Also the people who chose this career learn this at a young age, so they can be this strict on themselves as adults. I do not think that people who do this sort of thing only for fun need such discipline. I think that this type of career will cause a stressful life, but to be involved so deeply one must have great passion. To live a life and have a career so involved in something you are so passionate about is a good thing to me. I think sometimes though people let it take over their lives instead of being apart of it. The woman followed in this film seams to have lived a strict and sad life, but it was one that was chosen.

C. Robinson

Posted by: Cathy at April 19, 2006 09:52 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I will be writing on the film Dekalog 8 because of my absence on the day of Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz came to our class. The film Dekalog 8 was very confusing for me at the beginning because the movie starts out in the classroom setting. The questions directed at the teacher were so different I couldn.t tell what kind of class it was. It could of been a religous class or maybe even some other type of history/ philosophy class.

When the young women started talking to the teacher I could tell there was something else there like they may have met before. It also seemed like the girl wasn't too fond of the teacher. The teacher kept asking her questions along the lines of religion and so on. After Professor Hobbs explained a little bit of the movie and how it related to the Holocaust it all came clear. Many years before when the Holocaust had began the younger woman came to the teacher for help and a place to stay but had been denied. The teacher who is now teaching what I would think to be a religion class denied her a place because of her religion that she practiced.

Now the awkwardness in the class was understood. Later on in the film the girl is taken back to some dark place where she runs off and hides from the older teacher. This part at first was also a little confusing. The older lady proceeds to run after her and not being able to find her untill she returns to the car and sees her there. This part I believe was symbolism of the past that they had both went through. The older lady had once lost the little girl then found her. It is also good to see that the older lady who was the teacher invited the girl over for tea and a place to stay. Now that the Holocaust was over it was okay to stay and the younger girl showed no hostility towards her teacher.

This film at first was very confusing and I could not make any sense to what was going on, but when the film plays out it might be one of the more interesting movies that I have seen. It shows how history changes people and that different time periods can change the way of others and their beliefs.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at April 23, 2006 03:07 PM

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