Dwaj ludzie z szaf?

Krzysztof Komeda

 
" I especially loved the use of the vibraphone, which gives these pieces appropriate bursts of energy and fun. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the music as heard in the movie

Dwaj ludzie z szafą (Two Men and a Wardrobe, 1958) is a silent short film by Roman Polanski. The idea of the film is that two men carrying a wardrobe around try to make contact with people, but in their journey they stumble upon one rejection after another. It ties in with Polanski´ personal life against the backdrop of World War II. The score was done by Krystof Komeda.

Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969) was an important jazz musician that was recognized in Poland and the rest of Europe as the most important person to work on Polish free jazz. His album Aegestic (1965) performerd by his Komeda Quintet, including the famous trumpeteer Tomasz Stanko. is arguably one of his finest achievements. This same Stanko was involvement in a series of new releases, honouring and keeping the music by the long deceased Komeda alive. Alongside his career in jazz he wrote scores to more than 40 flms, increasingly adopting more elements of classical, experimental and pop music, which is also evident in all his collaborations with director Roman Polanski. He began to write music to his short films, continuining with scores to full length films Knife in the Water Cul-de-Sac and Les plus belles escroqueries du monde (segment "La Rivière de Diamants", before expanding on his ´usual jazz score´ and typical 60 sound with variations of a hauning worldless chorus in Dance and the Vampires and his portions of electronics and the shivering lullaby for Rosemary´´s Baby.

Back in the days, Komeda enjoyed great success with his Sekstet Komedy, generally performing modern Polish jazz, but also for films such as Dwaj ludzie z szafą. The music in the film starts as the two men emerge from the sea carrying a large wardrobe. Komeda introduces us to the slow, every day life main theme, which has a great melody for a woodwind. The series of rejection these men face, ultimately force them to return to their place of departure, the sea. On the one hand, the theme sounds like an enchanting breeze that ties in with the comical side of the short. On the other hand, the slower, downbeat takes, reflect on the feeling of discomfort and rejection, befitting for the film.

A secondary musical idea is the upbeat tempo jazz that underlines some of the more comical elements of the film. I especially loved the use of the vibraphone, which gives these pieces appropriate bursts of energy and fun. Komeda applied very direct shifts between the two music ideas in the film, but reserved different music for the scene in which the two men meet a group of youngster, who end up giving them a beating. A nice staccato motif, performed by deep bass, vibraphone and woodwind, establishes a wonderful feeling of evil and suspense.

Komeda´s music is not devoid of mickey-mousing, which works well in a tragicomedy such as this. It is fine seeing him mimick a character crawling through the sand musically, but the decision to underscore the rejection of a girl invited to look into the wardrobe´s mirror, with an overtly direct woodwind take on disappointment, is rather awful. It sounds like a crossover of the failure in a cartoon and answering wrongfully on a tv show, which is far out of reach with the content of the film. I am sometimes amazed how such hugely deviating moments were even approved by the directors Komeda worked with. A similar curiosity can be found in his music to Polanski´s first main feature Nóz w Wodzie (Knife in the Water, 1962).

The score is fully available on a release tied with Nóz W Wodzie and Gdy Spadaja Anioly (Power records) and on Jazz In Polish Cinema - Out Of The Underground 1958-1967 (Jazz on Film records). Like Gdy Spadaja Aniol, it comes directly from the audio track of the film, including some sound effects such as the sea. I suspect the original recording was deemed lost, but there are no sources to verify this. Nonetheless, if this is the one and only way to enjoy this fine score to Dwaj ludzie z szafą, I could not be less than grateful.


(written 24-11-2019)
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- (music as heard in the movie 1958)