Denaturant

Translated excerpt from Kazimierz Kutz's book of film-related anecdotes

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There are two basic types of literature in human life. The one you read in bed and the one you read in the bathroom (and some derivatives of both). Best bathroom literature is comprised of short forms: letters, diaries, newspapers. Our bathroom is currently sporting a copy of Kazimierz Kutz‘s “Film Alphabet”. Kutz is a prominent film director and good observer. Hence some positions in his “alphabet” provides interesting and rather charming insights into Polish culture and psychic.

His language is rather loose and very colloquial, so forgive me if some of the charm gets lost in translation. Especially conversations in the text blow were in particular Southern dialect. Here is a bit entitled “Bryna” (and I hope I won’t get sued or else it will be all I will ever drink from then on).

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“”Bryna” is a slang word for denaturant. While shooting “Pearl in a crown” I encountered another version of that word – “SS-liqueur” and that was thanks to meeting a whole tribe of people addicted to the violet liquid, who under Chropaczew – in the no man land between Bytom and Lipiny – build a habitat out of rubbish. There they had their paradise. Men dried by alcohol – with hoarsely voices – moved with a certain “economical” graciousness, as if it resulted from speeding up the shutter on film. The tribe was well organised. Youngsters jumped on the trains with coal – when it was living a nearby mine – dropped as much of it as possible, then sold it and bought the “SS-liqueur” for their fathers.

They fitted the part of pre-war unemployed ideally, so I involved them all. They were the best extras. Always appeared earlier, in an army-like order, singing, worked like ants and went back in order. They had their own sense of humour too. One day we were awaiting the arival of Jan Englert from Warsaw. I was sitting on the top of a mine gait, next to a 1000-milimiter lens camera, which was directed at an old, smelter gait with the huts of the unemployed, on which all of them were supposed to carry the naked Englert. All of a sudden I see a delegation coming: three gentlmen, the “SS-liqueur-s” approaching me with majestic graceousness. Then for a long time they were climbing up to where I was positioned. They rattled and exhausted dropped at my feet. Evidently they came with an important matter. When they finally regained composure I hear a whisper: “Mister Kutz, we have question.” – “Yeah, I’m listening.” – “Mister Kutz, you scream so much and one can hear you 500 kilometers away. Sowe have a question – what the hell do you gargle your throat with?”

When I was finishing working with them – on that pink gait – eldest three invited me to a hut. Half a bottle of purple liquid stood on the table. “Try, Mister Kutz, our booze before we say goodby. It’s not true, what they say, that it makes you blind or something, we’ve been drinking it for 30 years and we see everything. It’s not true, it’s a lie. Drink with us, even one sip”. I talked my way out of it through claiming abstinence, they didn’t push. Thanks ensued. – “Mister Kutz, you don’t know, who you are to us! We counted last night, we earned a lot from you, and in relation to our SS-liqueur we can drink for 500 years!!! Mister Kutz, you are God to us!!” Then a whole tribe of liqueur-s run out of the huts dressed as Indians – with their faces painted red – and danced a farewell dance of free “red-skins” from Chropaczów.

Few months after the premiere they called. “Mister Kutz, is that you?” – I hear the familiar hoarseness. “- Damn, how we searched for your number! Mister Kutz we have a question, ’cause we went to your movie”. “And?” “Yeah, we liked it, so we have a question.” – “I’m listening”. – “Mister Kutz, do you have a enemy?” – “No, no, I don’t think so.” – “That’s a shame, ‘cuz we woulda kill them”.

There was a moment worth all the effort.”

Kazimierz Kutz, “Klapsy i ścinki. Mój alafabet filmowy”, Znak 1999, p.34

Pearl in a crown was made in 1972 and screened in Cannes that same year. These days you’d have to go deep into the country side to be presented with denaturant. You’re more likely to encounter Bimber (Moonshine). And yes, on occasion people would have trouble with eye sight after.

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