Movie themes from “Crystal Ball”
The penultimate among eight films director Stanisław Różewicz made with Kilar, after they'd met during the making of The Voice from the Outer World (1962). Though the director’s exceptionally realistic films, which usually contain a lot of dialogue, do not give the composer plenty of opportunity to shine, this small-scale story of aspirations among high-school graduates is a charming exception. Krzysztof (Andrzej Nardelli), the leader of the five friends and a boy with artistic aspirations, sees a role model in a homeless man he calls “King of Life”.
Given the fact that it is a teen film with educational ambitions, Crystal Ball has a striking prologue in which not a word is uttered for over ten minutes and we hear no fewer than three motifs by Kilar. The main theme begins and ends with a percussion section (cymbals and timpani), as if paving the way for mellifluous descending cascades of violins then flutes against a background provided by harpsichord and cellos.
The second theme, in contrast, is presented by the strings playing pizzicato then arco (still accenting the rhythm, however) then pizzicato again – like the first motif, it has a clear arch form. At this point in the film we see the King of Life roaming the Kraków streets. Finally, the third theme is repeated twice. Perhaps the most interesting of them all, it sounds like an excerpt from an autonomous composition straight from the Warsaw Autumn Festival's contemporary-music programming. It comprises dissonant piano chords repeated with pedal and atonal and pointillistic textures, and also appears in a variant for wind instruments accompanying camera shots from an art exhibition.
After the first lines are spoken and the protagonists are characterized, the fourth theme appears, with arching piano phrases against a string tremolo. The accompaniment is heard when one of the protagonists presents a crystal ball to one girl. Soon after, the first theme returns in the diegesis, heard on the radio Krzysztof is listening to while lying on the floor. The third theme is repeated on piano when the protagonist searches ruined tenement houses, looking for the King of Life. Repeated chords from this motif will return in the strings towards the film's end, when the idol reappears.
In the final scene, as his friends are going to meet him, we hear the triumphant first theme, with percussion is joined by the bass at the start; the motif is repeated twice, also with flutes. Yet during their earlier get-together, the young people listen not to Kilar but, of course, to albums by Novi Singers, a fashionable band of the day.