5 Roman Polanski short films you must watch!

By Bindu Nair. Posted on August 12, 2014

Roman Polanski started out like any other film student. As a pupil of the flourishing Łódź Film School in the 1950s, he made several short films to practice his craft and define his style. His subtle style of directing is on full display and you can see the streaks of genius that became fully realized in movies like Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby. Many of them are available online and we wanted to share a few of the best ones with you!

To begin with, Two Men and a Wardrobe depict a random series of happenings that occur after two men emerge from the ocean carrying a wardrobe. They wander around the streets of a city getting unfairly ejected from restaurants and trains and get beaten up by thugs and policemen. Targeted because they are carrying something as mundane as a wardrobe, the film is heavy with a sense of irony that these are the people being victimized while murderers are out and about.

Up next is Teeth Smile, a short 2 min exploration of voyeurism in everyday society. The film  is based on a simple premise: Would you stare at a stranger nude in the shower if they had no way of knowing you were looking? The man in the film answers this question with a resounding YES. Not only does he watch, but even when he is briefly rattled by the appearance of the husband, he goes back to continue staring. Judging him is easy enough, but how many of us wouldn’t at least take a look?

Ever wanted to watch one of cinemas greatest auteurs do silly dances and act like an idiot? Then The Fat and the Lean is the film for you! Polanski stars as a slave to a cruel man who makes him perform various duties, including collecting his urine. The slave tries to escape several times but his master coerces him to stay, taking advantage of his simple nature and even chaining him to a goat! The most unsettling thing about the film is the tragic happiness with which the slave carries out his master’s wishes and doesn’t fight back as much as he could.

The creepiest one by far is The Lamp. It even gives Rosemary’s Baby a run for its money in unsettling visuals! A period piece about a doll maker who has switched to using electricity, the movie succeeds largely because of the music.

Lastly, Break Up the Dance portrays a violent assault on an innocent college party. Polanski got in trouble for this film as he used a real dance and invited actual thugs to break up the party, with several partygoers getting hurt. He almost got expelled as a result! The efforts he took paid off, with the real violence making for some disturbing visuals.

So what do you guys think of Polanski's early efforts? Let us know in the comments below!


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