The Saragossa Manuscript

Watch The Saragossa Manuscript

  • 1965
  • 3 hr 2 min
  • 7.8  (5,755)

The Saragossa Manuscript is a 1965 surrealist film directed by Wojciech Has, based on the eponymous novel by Jan Potocki. The movie follows the journey of two Spanish officers who stumble upon a strange, ancient manuscript in the Spanish city of Saragossa during the Napoleonic Wars. The film is set in the 18th century and revolves around the story of a man named Alphonse van Worden, played by Zbigniew Cybulski. He is a young officer in the Spanish army who is on a mission to reach Madrid, where he is to meet his father. However, he gets sidetracked on his journey and finds himself lost in the Spanish countryside.

He stumbles upon the eerie mansion of two sisters, and there he spends the night. During the night, he has a series of bizarre and surreal experiences, including being seduced by the sisters, as well as hallucinations of witches and demons. This is just the beginning of Alphonse's strange adventures.

As the movie progresses, Alphonse finds himself in increasingly bizarre and surreal situations. He meets a variety of characters, including a group of gypsies, a band of robbers, a group of Inquisitors, and even the devil himself. Each 'adventure' leads him deeper into a vast and intricate web of stories, memories, and dreams.

The film is a surreal exploration of the infinite possibilities of human experience, where time, space, and reality are fluid concepts. It is a story-within-story, with each new character that Alphonse meets telling their own tale, which in turn brings the character of Alphonse to different places, faces and times.

The Saragossa Manuscript creates a remarkable, oneiric universe, achieved through the stunning cinematography of Mieczyslaw Jahoda, which showcases the rich, vivid colors and the beguiling, seemingly abstract, compositions. Similarly, the movie's soundtrack is mesmerizing, eerie, and intense, with haunting melodies blending with the crescendos of the music, as well as the sublime dialogue and the subtle and nuanced acting performances.

One of the essential themes of the movie revolves around the concept of truth, and indeed how many versions of it exist, depending on the perception, the place or the time. In this way, the movie portrays the different layers of reality and how it can change from one person's point of view to another.

The Saragossa Manuscript is not just a cinematic feat; it is an undeniably ambitious work of art that transcends reality and dives deep into the human mind, it has layers of symbolism that invite audiences to ponder over the meaning of the story. It is an entrancing film that will remain with you long after you have finished watching it.

In conclusion, The Saragossa Manuscript is an unforgettable experience, a phantasmagoric adventure, that takes you through multiple stories of thrilling, uncanny, and profound significance. The film manages to construct a world that is endlessly mysterious, playful, and captivating, alights the flames of the imagination, and wonderfully displays life's potentialities and paradoxes.

The Saragossa Manuscript
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  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    3 hr 2 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.8  (5,755)