A Day Without The Sun

A hapless, lonely man wanders through the city, looking for love and friendship and finding little of either. Original title: Dzień bez słońca

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Made of no-longer-original parts in 1959, this Polish short nevertheless weaves an endearingly pathetic whole from equal bits Charlie Chaplin and Neorealism: a kind-of gritty silent slapstick. The main character—small, bookish—tramps around on-location shot urban locales, hoping for luck but always getting the short end of the stick: befriending a stray dog only for the pup to go off with a fellow canine; helping a woman work a telephone booth only for her to leave without so much as a thank you; pushing his way into a movie theatre ticket line only to discover he doesn’t have enough money to buy a ticket. At the end, after engaging in a desperate competition with another lonely man about who can feed the most pigeons, he slumps down on a park bench. But the former rival takes a seat nearby and then lights our loner’s cigarette (is a cigarette just a cigarette?). The film is most memorable for its gentle humour and urban[e] sadness, and most important for its grey realism.

A Day Without The Sun isn’t always a waste.

Kazimierz Karabasz & Władysław Ślesicki, 1959

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