This documentary of truly operatic proportions premiered yesterday in Los Angeles, at the County museum of Art and will air on Netflix on December 21. Szukalski’s art was monumental, symbolic and of extraordinary technical skill; it was a special treat to watch it on a big screen. The movie takes us literally inside his surviving sculptures and the creator’s psyche. Once renowned on both sides of the Atlantic, then almost completely forgotten, Stanislaw Szukalski is getting rediscovered thanks to his relationship with DiCaprio family and a group of LA artists who preserved his archive and recorded video footage of him in the last years of his life. The movie takes as through over eight decades of his life, following the course of 20th century, with its ideological madness and destructive forces of war.
I don’t want to give any spoilers or even post a trailer – enough to say I watched the live audience laugh, gasp and get moved as the story unfolds, as the striking images emerge from the darkness and invade our senses with their expressive power and as we discover the not always pretty aspects of the working of a great creative mind. How is it possible that a genius in one sphere can be totally deluded in another? By filtering off all the “dos” and “don’ts” of the society Szukalski manages to keep his art totally original but the same principle leads to his isolation and to ideas that he later abandoned. It is a credit to the producers that after finding out saddening facts about their old friend’s past they decided to present his story anyway. In the days where lessons from World War II seem to fade away and extreme nationalism is again on the rise Szukalski’s story can be seen as a reminder and a warning.
Beautifully shot and narrated, great music. Must see!
Online gallery of artwork: http://szukalski.com
With director Irek Dobrowolski
“Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski.” Director: Irek Dobrowolski. Producers: Leonardo DiCaprio, George DiCaprio, Anna Dobrowolska. Netflix original, release December 21st 2018