The Beads of One Rosary, movie theme from “The Beads of One Rosary”
third part of director Kazimierz Kutz’s so-called Silesian trilogy, following Salt
of the Black Earth (1970) and Pearl in the Crown (1972). This time,
the director transfers the action to the present. The main protagonist, Karol
Habryka (played by Augustyn Halotta, a retired miner like the character he
portrays), is an old man. He took part in uprisings and strikes, which makes it
even more difficult for him to come to terms with what is going on around him:
his traditional house is surrounded by high-rises, with old neighbors moved out
under pressure from the authorities and even family can't always be relied on
when one must fight for one’s due. All that's hitherto been held sacred is
becoming a thing of the past.
The film’s overriding idea is brilliantly expressed by Kilar in the main theme – in fact, the various arrangements of it. An awkward waltz played on an upright piano appears already in the opening scenes, when we watch a shut-down coal mine. The motif soon returns or, to be more precise, the melody returns played by unaccompanied trumpet while we are watching a high-rise estate being built. It returns again later, this time only as the rhythmic layer of an arco double bass with pizzicato strings and percussion as pieces of furniture are carried down and burned in front of the house. Habryka eventually gives in and moves to a block of flats, but we know he will not live long there. The main theme dwindles...
It returns in its full form only at the very end, during the protagonist’s state funeral – he was, after all, an outstanding miner and uprising veteran, though in the past he was also referred to as an anarchist. Modest upright piano contrasts with the lavishness of the ceremony and formal attire as well as the broad, almost aerial camera shots. Only when the coffin is being lowered into the grave is the piano joined by percussion and clarinet; the end credits, though, are accompanied by the instrument on its own.
The waltz turns out to be a very scatchy motif, which remains in our heads for a long time, expressing all its content in its masterful developments. Other motifs are nearly nonexistent – from time to time, we hear an illustrative ostinato of the strings or a religious or party song. There is also a funny (intentional?) double self-quote: twice we ear the opening jingle of Dziennik Telewizyjny – the main Polish TV news program of that era, with its well-known fanfare composed by Kilar.
Excerpts from The Beads of One Rosary, dir. K. Kutz, 1979, © Studio Filmowe KADR
Watch the full film here.