|Directed by||Juliusz Machulski|
|Produced by||Juliusz Machulski|
|Written by||Juliusz Machulski, Jolanta Hartwig, Pavel Hajný|
|Starring||Jerzy Stuhr, Olgierd Łukaszewicz, Beata Tyszkiewicz|
|Music by||Henryk Kuźniak|
|Edited by||Miroslawa Garlicka|
In 1991, Max and Albert, played by Jerzy Stuhr and Olgierd Łukaszewicz, respectively, submit themselves to the first human hibernation experiment, but instead of being awakened 3 years later as planned, they wake up in the year 2044, in a post-nuclear world.
As they wake up, they think they are in a clinic following rehibernation. They are being taken care of by women which they enjoy at the beginning, especially Lamia Reno to which Max becomes attracted. However they gradually realize that everything going on around is odd. After explicitly asking to meet professor Kuppelweiser (the hibernation project chief), they are informed by Lamia and dr Berna that there was a war, all males have long been extinct and that it is March 8th, 2044 (ironically, Women's Day). Max and Albert think that these must be hallucinations as a side-effect of hibernation and try to leave the room, but are electrocuted by closed door. Men are under constant surveillance. Lamia tells them their society reproduces without males through parthenogenesis. During a briefing, Max kisses Lamia, for which she knocks him down and threatens them with euthanasia for another try. However, Lamia's drug-inhibited passions become to resurface, making her both confused and fascinated.
After several days Max and Albert are permitted to go out to meet with Her Excellency, the supreme ruler of women. Waiting for her in the bio-sanctuary, they spot a tree with two tiny apples and eat them, being disgusted by synthetic food. At the meeting they ask what women did to males. Women reply it is not their fault, but Kuppelweiser's, who during the war invented an agent - the so-called M bomb - able to temporarily paralyze male genes, but due to some oversight it wiped out male genes once and for all. Max makes a proposal to serve as reproducers to restore the male population. But women do not wish the old order to come back. Her Excellency points at the "sacred apple tree" and says it was planted by Arch Mother, and from which in the paradise a male took an apple and seduced a woman by it, for what they lost the paradise forever. After noticing missing sacred apples desperate and enraged Her Excellency demands men to be taken back to the custody and not to be released anywhere.
Men grow in distress and plan to escape by damaging the electric net. They succeed but are caught and locked again. Women provide them with the last chance: to submit for "naturalisation", i.e. undergoing a sex reassignment surgery. When they refuse, a roof above the room opens, showing a huge women assembly, which has to determine their fate. Men face a humiliating trial while women blame males for oppression and virtually all evil and vices and praise their new society. They even distort history by claiming that the greatest scientists - such as Copernicus, Einstein or Pincus (one of the pioneers of parthenogenesis) - were in fact women. When Max and Albert are taken away, the assembly is to choose between naturalisation and liquidation of men. The first option is passed by the difference of only one vote. In the meantime men escape again. Wandering through what Albert calls "a nightmarish skyscraper", they encounter other women which have known no man and therefore see Max and Albert as their "sisters", provoking humorous conflicts. Men discover the nest of "decadency" - one of the anarchist, "hippie" women groups, who do not wish to be part of the oppressive regime, play loud music and some engage in lesbianism. Max and Albert are caught as supposed government spies. In the meantime, the pursuing regime forces attack and subsequent chaos provides men with an opportunity to escape. After that men stumble upon Lamia, who provides them with a possibility to see the outside and reveals that in fact they live deep underground in expanded old mines. The periscope shows a dark, rocky landscape above ground and sensors indicate high level of "Kuppelweiser radiation", a side effect of M bomb. However it turns out that Lamia plan was a plot to catch men and force them into surgery. Lamia is congratulated by Tekla and Emma Dax for her ingenious plan, but they also say that their section will now be in charge of males, which devastates Lamia.
In the hands of Tekla the fate of males is to be different. Their organs will be extracted for transplantation, and the remains will be tested for possible use of death bodies for consumption due to growing protein shortage. The chief surgeon, dr Yanda, an aged lady, turns out to be Max's daughter, who delights to take revenge for his abandonment of wife and child in favor of hibernation for profit. Lamia sabotages the surgery and helps men escape as a revenge for overtaking males and her research. In the periscope room she threatens the guards to blast the whole block if they do not give her the code activating a capsule reaching the surface. Max and Albert wear protective suits. Guards claim that only Her Excellency knows the password required. Enraged Max shouts "kurwa mać!" (a common strong Polish swear) and the capsule is activated to the surprise of all.
Lamia in a suit joins men. While they explore the surface, Max suddenly bumps against some invisible obstacle and is unable to go further. He takes a knife and cuts the fabric, and a dazzling light appears. They all go through the hole and see a beach, with the periscope area being surrounded by a small circular structure. They go to forest but the suits are running out of oxygen. Suddenly Max shouts with joy and throws away his suit, seeing a flying stork: "if it can live it means we can live too". After removing suits they find a cosy villa full of fresh food. While eating in the garden they are found by Emma who has been following them and demands their surrender armed with a harpoon, but she faints due to lack of oxygen. When Emma regains consciousness, during a fight with Albert they accidentally turn on a TV and watch an official government version of the events, including an interview with "naturalised" Max and Albert, who claim to be feeling very good and thankful. Emma is shocked, unable to understand such lies and all the strange environment "with too much air". Max go with Lamia to a bedroom and tries to explain her what mating is, while Albert attempts to soften cold and confused Emma.
Resting in the living room, Max and Albert suddenly hear the familiar, distressing sound of an arriving underground lift and hide. It is Her Excellency who leaves the lift covered in a locker to feed her cage birds. When she opens a wardrobe she is attacked by Max hidden in it and during the fight her false breasts and hair are stripped, revealing that she is a male in disguise, to his panic and Max's disgust and rage. Max also removes an electronic necklace converting Her Excellency voice into entirely feminine one. Her Excellency tells men his life story. Just after the war, when the League of Women took power, he was 4 years old and few remained boys were naturalised into girls, but he was hid by his mother. Growing in female disguise, he joined the League and finally was appointed as Her Excellency. He was too ashamed by women to form a relationship with any and return things to normal. The radiation level was exaggerated by official propaganda to keep women underground where it was easier to rule them. Also, a special pill was designed to convert sexual lust into career lust. The three make a deal: Max and Albert will not compromise Her Excellency's true identity, but they can stay in his home with Lamia and Emma. Later, Max and Albert, disguised as laboratory workers, put male genes in the incubation center. Few months later a nurse, routinely wrapping newborns in blankets, accidentally spots something which, to her utter horror, is a boy penis.
The film contains numerous subtle allusions to the realities of the communist-bloc society, particularly to that of the People's Republic of Poland just before the fall of communism, perhaps in the anticipation of the major events to come; the fall of communism and the rise of political liberty. When Max and Albert escape, they jump through the wall, which then starts to shake (often associated with later Lech Wałęsa's jumping over the wall of the Gdańsk shipyard, and also with the subsequent fall of the Berlin wall). The secret meeting of the Women League apparatchiks and their lies to the women parallels the communist government of Poland. This dimension of the movie appears to typically escape the viewer more removed from the context. Some sections of this kind were left out from the version shown in Polish theaters by the government censors, but many passed through.
In a contemporary review, Variety stated that the film was "not up to the standards of those quality Polish pics of the late 1970s [...] nonetheless the best pic pic to emerge form the Warsaw studios over the past season."
The film has been very popular in Poland. It was proclaimed to be the best Polish film of the last 30 years in a 2005 joint poll by readers of three popular film magazines. However, this assessment by the audience was considered to be a surprise as it disagreed with the historical rankings of Polish movies by the professional film critics. It received the Złota Kaczka award for the best Polish movie of 1984. The movie was also fairly popular in Hungary when shown a couple of years later.
- Olgierd Łukaszewicz as Albert Starski
- Jerzy Stuhr as Maximilian 'Max' Paradys
- Bożena Stryjkówna as Lamia Reno
- Bogusława Pawelec as Emma Dax
- Hanna Stankówna as dr Tekla
- Beata Tyszkiewicz as dr Berna
- Ryszarda Hanin as dr Jadwiga Yanda
- Barbara Ludwiżanka as Julia Novack
- Mirosława Marcheluk as Secretary
- Hanna Mikuć as Linda
- Elżbieta Zającówna as Zająconna
- Dorota Stalińska as TV Reporter (1991)
- Ewa Szykulska as Instructor
- Janusz Michałowski as Professor Wiktor Kuppelweiser
- Wiesław Michnikowski as Her Excellency
Lamia meeting with Julia, the oldest pensionary in an asylum for the aged, talking about the past times when men still existed. Lamia shows her a record of naked Max and Albert taking a shower:
J.: Oh Jesus! Just like my Józuś!
L.: You said "Jesus", what does it mean "Jesus"?
J.: Józuś, I said Józuś, that was the name of my fiance.
L.: What does it mean "fiance"?
J.: And how do you benefit from your feminity, you, women of new generation? It's not worth being a woman when there are no men.
Dr Tekla, during the trial:
I think there is nothing to discuss here. Already our great-grandmothers have long ago shown us the purpose and the path along which we firmly and happily walk. We will not allow to restore the situation in which woman would again be a waitress at the banquet of life at which male feasts. Presently we all stand hardly and firmly on the ground enabling us to prevent the plague carrying the name "male" to which we are all immune. [...] These phallocrats are talking here about "male inventions". What they invented, then? Let's start from the beginning. A certain male, named Cain, invented crime and tested it on his sister Abel. Another one invented prostitution, yet another one slavery, cowardice, sloth. Shortly speaking, all the evil of the world we owe to you, beginning with religious wars and ending with uterine cancer. [...] We live in a regulated, peaceful world, without hunger, wars, venereal diseases and other male inventions.
- Y: The Last Man
- Assemblywomen, ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes describing a society ruled entirely by women
- Willis 1985, p. 452: "Review is from August 1, 1984"
- "The Best Polish Film of the Last 30 Years" (results of the poll by "Cinema", "Esensja" and "Stopklatka.pl") (in Polish)"
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