November 2007, Piotr Uklanski: Summer Love
Summer Love by Piotr Uklanski, An Implosive Pop Cultural Allegory
Summer Love by Piotr Uklanski - An Implosive Pop-Cultural Allegory.
As Piotr Uklanski puts it “the movie is a copy of a copy” - it is a remake of a an European western, which by definition would already be a simulacrum. But more importatntly, the movie is also an allegory. The characters in the film don’t have names and therefore they become not even symbols, but mere pointers towards certain modes of behavior in consumer society. The main characteristic of pop culture is that it is not made by the spectators, but fed to them; the main characteristic of consumerism is that the society can only express itself through consumption.
Summer Love consumes products of western mass culture by becoming alike. It does not aspire - purposefuly - to be intertextual, to relate or to appropriate in any way. It follows a well beaten path, which should lead it to failure. Instead what we witness is a flip from reality to the action of the movie. The burden is transfered onto the cahracters who slowly sink in agony. Those wannabe-westerners chase after the stranger, the semi-westerner, who brought the corpse of a true-westerner. The pursuit is a mere failure in which somebody shoots himself, somebody cuts off his finger, the sheriff wants to hang himself, and the woman looking for love becomes a humiliated whore. All actions taken by them collapse, they cannot communicate anymore, they descend into chaos.
The two americanisms that appear in the film are both dead. One is the long forgotten genre of the movie, the other is Val Kilmer - killed before the movie begins. All other actors are Polish, with the exception of Czech Karel Roden, playing the stranger-headhunter. It is Karel Roden who in the movie drags along with him Val Kilmer’s dead body and it is Karel Roden who in reality has played in Hollywood superproductions. None of the Polish actors in Summer Love could achieve that despite having such aspirations.
The plot is filled with allegorical motives, but what is by far the most striking aspect of the movie, is the forementioned passage. It allows for an act of purificaion. Redemption through sacrifice characteristic for Catholicism (96% of Polish population happens to be Catholic). The artist is saved and his sins are transfered on to the fictional plot. Art is salved at the cost of its subject being doomed. It is self-destructive but through that very ruination it is able to produce quality. This religious act translates fluently into the situation of art at times of global pop (i.e. cultural imperialism) where destruction remains one of the few, if not the only means for creation.
by Bartek Kraciuk, WM New York