Andrzej Munk’s film is not a “camp story” in a traditional understanding. Instead, the director offers the audience a new fresh look at the topic. In contrast to classic works of that genre, the film does not present an apocalyptic vision of Auschwitz, which is so well-known, and does not put emphasis on the motive of extermination, but focuses on the psychological struggle between two women:
Liza and Marta. Thus, it is not so much a war film as a psychological drama. However, despite applying such a technique, does the film discuss the issues of concentration camps and the war in an interesting way?
The director avoids shocking the audience with brutality or naturalistic exaggeration. Due to the sparing use of the means of expression, conciseness of narrative, toned-down characters and realistic set (the shooting took place in a former concentration camp), Munk’s film makes an impression of a documentary.
The Passenger is a film that is incomplete, unfinished. For example, the present-day part of the story takes the form of freeze-frames. The shooting was interrupted by the tragic death of the director, who died on his way to Łódź, where he was supposed to collect some pieces of scenery. Thus, a part of the planned shooting never took place, while a part of the remaining footage did not satisfy the director and he wanted to film those scenes again. When he was gone, nobody wanted to finish the film. Only after many months did the head of the “Camera” Film Team that produced the The Passenger manage to persuade Munk’s friend, Witold Lesiewicz, to not so much finish the work as put all the footage together.
Do you think it was a right decision? Did that decision result in making a film that is incomplete and mutilated, or rather a unique masterpiece due to that very incompleteness and, at same time, ambiguity?
Who is the “author” of the film – Andrzej Munk or Witold Lesiewicz, who was responsible for the final result? Has the resignation of the development (additional shooting) of the presentday part of the story made the film less appealing to the audience?