Archive for January, 2011

Guide by Mateusz Jarmulski (2009)

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

To summarise nicely a story presented in a book or some film seems to be a piece of serious art. It’s surprisingly difficult, especially when thinking that huge number of people living in their countries speak their mother tongue in a way that allows them to communicate successfully between each other. Sometimes, like in my case, people try writing in another language, make mistakes or not, hence the art of proper communication becomes Art (beginning with a capital A which only exemplifies the discussed level of difficulty). We reach another threshold of difficulty when our postmodernistic wordiness becomes meaningless mumble that puts the subject and the author to ridicule… With a bit of luck this will not be the case here… We’ll see :)


Caravan guided by an old blind man and his son wander through a desert looking for water. Despite the old man’s disability he’s the only one who knows the art of guiding. It’s he who notices coming sand storm, it’s he who knows the area. Finally it’s he who gets reduced to ballast when the journey lasts longer than expected due to his condition, clumsiness and long distance, alike. One of the wanderers dies in the sand storm that eventually comes. The old guide is said to be guilty of the accident. His son considers even killing him during one of stopovers.

Mateusz Jarmulski is one of those young Polish animators whose films show constant development of animator’s skills, vision and visual sensitivity. He is an author of such films as Spoon (2004), One (2005), collaborated on production of a few others including the Oscar winner Peter and the Wolf by Suzie Templeton. Mateusz just finished his last animation Guide produced in Serafiński Studio in Warsaw, Poland. He has also begun working on further projects.

What bewitches me in Guide is the fact that the short film can be read on several levels of meaning – from the very basic topic of the caravan’s journey, through relationship between wanderers facing the dangerous side of the desert, to father and son relation and the way it changes over the days.

Another thing that amazes me (maybe even more than the above) is the monochromatic, coarse visual side of Guide. Darkened intervals taking the viewer from one scene to another and that beetle rolling a Sisyphus globule of something up the darkness. I am not even sure whether or not the beetle does exist in the film, hence the beetle, his globule and finally my uncertainty widen the meaning of the film story. Deliberate and inert music fulfills and illustrates nature of the journey.

It is not a film in the course of which you can pop out to the toilet or some other kitchen, come back and still understand the plot.  Guide requires you to focus from the very first line of dialogue. Nothing to complain about though, after all 7 minutes is not that long to kindly concentrate.

Przewodnik (Guide) english subtitles from Mateusz Jarmulski on Vimeo.

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