See Wojciech Has’s Short Film About the Accordion That Got Away


If you’ve never heard of Wojciech Has, your film-buff cred might be in serious dispute. Luckily, you can remedy that promptly, thanks to the recent DVD release of a restored version of the maverick Polish maestro’s 1964 masterpiece, The Saragossa Manuscript. A Chinese box of a film that folds in on itself, Saragossa won the counterculture’s heart with its expansive, dreamlike, surreal narrative; Jerry Garcia helped finance its restoration, and the DVD comes with a quote from David Lynch, calling it "one mother of a film." On the other hand, Harmonia, a short film Has made in 1947, shortly after graduating from art school in Krakow, is nothing like Saragossa, but it’s still a beautiful work — an old-school tearjerker about a poor young boy who wants an accordion, tempered by Has’s occasional forays into dream logic. Those well versed in the visionary graduates of Eastern European film schools may notice some similarities between this and Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1960 student film, The Steamroller and the Violin — understandable, perhaps, since Saragossa sometimes plays like Andrei Rublev’s pothead cousin.