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Blind Chance
cast: Boguslaw Linda, Tadeusz Lomnicki, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz

director: Krzysztof Kieslowski

114 minutes (15) 1981
widescreen ratio 1.66:1
Artificial Eye DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Poland, the late 1970s... The film begins with a fragmentary series of scenes, out of chronology, which we piece together: Witek (Boguslaw Linda) is a medical student who entered the discipline at his father's insistence. Now that his father has died, he is wondering if he still has a vocation for medicine. One day, he's late to catch a train.

Blind Chance (aka: Przypadek) follows three possible outcomes. Firstly, he catches the train, and on board meets an old communist. Witek abandons his medical career and seeks to influence people from within the Party. Secondly, Witek misses the train, and in a scuffle with a guard is arrested. Witek then joins the political underground. In a third timeline, Witek gives up running for the train and returns to his medical career, meeting a former student colleague and falling in love with her.

Kieslowski's use of alternate timelines makes Blind Chance at least nominally science fiction. Similarly, Alain Resnais's two-part Alan Ayckbourn adaptation Smoking/ No Smoking uses a similar SF device and plays typically Resnaisian narrative games with it. Sliding Doors and If Only take the trope and play it as romantic comedy. Blind Chance uses its SF device in the service of a political parable, examining three different ways Witek can influence society: from within the Party, from without it, or entirely apolitically, using his medical skills in the service of individuals rather than the country as a whole. This political material didn't find favour with the Polish authorities, who banned the film until 1987 and insisted on cuts. It appeared at the London Film Festival in 1988 and shortly afterwards had a BBC2 showing, but this DVD is the first time Blind Chance has had a commercial release in the UK. Some knowledge of Polish politics of the time might be of use, but this film is more accessible to Kieslowski newcomers than No End, which did get a British cinema release. In Blind Chance, Kieslowski explores themes of fate and chance which he would develop more fully in his later works. Of his four pre-Dekalog features, Blind Chance is probably the best.

Artificial Eye's DVD is in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and anamorphically enhanced, with a Dolby digital 2.0 mono soundtrack. Extras: a 10-minute introduction by Annette Insdorf (which contains spoilers), an interview with Irena Strazakowska from Kieslowski's production company, an interview with director and occasional Kieslowski collaborator Agnieszka Holland, a short film Workshop Exercises (directed by Marcel Lozinski, a colleague of Kieslowski's), and a filmography.

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