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April 1st, 2006

unequivocable

Over in the Sk8Jesus forum, Dan started a thread asking each of us to describe a lesser-known film. I was assigned Unequivocable, and I finally managed to track down a copy and watch it last night. Naturally, Scarecrow Video had a copy, an old VHS cassette, but it's a rare out-of-print item so there was a $200 deposit to rent it. Like many of the works of director Nichol Cryzgzy, Unequivocable was lost and forgotten for decades, although at one time it was the most popular film in Europe. This copy seems to have been a limited release in Poland and later dubbed (badly) into English.

Unequivocable is the story of Saint Vrllczy (known in English as Saint Paul Parmistani), the patron saint of Parmistan. Saint Vrllczy was renowned for his debating skills and was an important figure in the conversion of the pagans in Eastern Europe. The film offers a strange take on the story, however. At the time the film was made, Parmistan was in the Soviet sphere, and Cryzgzy felt compelled to harmonize Vrllczy's story with Communist philosophy, in order that the film might be shown in his homeland. So for example, he reworked the famous story of "Saint Vrllczy and the Dragon" to champion the rights of the people. In the original tale, the dragon of course was preying upon hapless villagers, until Vrllczy struck it down by calling upon the Lord. In Unequivocable, however, the dragon has been cruelly enslaving the villagers to produce frivolous luxuries for itself, and Vrllczy rouses the people to overthrow the evil dragon and form a new cooperative society. Another such altered tale is "The Ecstasy of Saint Vrllczy," in which Vrllczy's vision of Christ triumphant in Heaven becomes Christ offering his blessing to the Communist takeover of Europe.

Throughout the film, Vrllczy is shown convincing the pagan people of the land of the truth of Christianity by his clear, well-reasoned and unambiguous arguments, which give the film its name. (I believe the incorrect form "Unequivocable" for "unequivocal" is a translation error; the original title, Ygwrtzncyll u Hwrptlc, is of course Parmistanian and might be better translated as "The Voice of the People Crying in the Wilderness Speaks with Certainty.") Of course, these arguments lose something in translation. The people will say something like, "Your god makes no sense!" Vrllczy will clearly give a long speech in response, but the English voiceover will simply say "Christ is truth!", and the people go wild and hail him as a hero.

All together, it's a pretty strange film. It's quite long by Cryzgzy's standards, being 42 minutes long, but even then it seems to have been edited down from a longer work. I think if it were reissued with decent subtitles and footage restored, it'd be more enjoyable.

For more information on Cryzgzy, I recommend you check out The Nichol Cryzgzy Film Preservation Society. I have to give credit to John and Scott who first introduced me to the works of Cryzgzy.


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