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The study discusses the problem of irony in the films by Wojciech Jerzy Has. The first part defines the function of irony in the films made by this director prior to The Manuscript Found in Saragossa [Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie] - (Noose [Pętla], 1957; Farewells [Pożegnania, 1958; Shared Room [Wspólny pokój], 1960; Goodbye to the Past [Rozstanie], 1961; Gold [Złoto], 1962; How to Be Loved [Jak być kochana], 1963). The second part of the study compares irony as the principle of artistic creation in The Manuscript Found in Saragossa and the concept of Romantic irony (Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis). This film can be termed as the quintessence of ironic traits of Has’s creative work.
In the earlier works by this director irony manifests itself as the attitude of the film characters towards the reality, as their attitude to historical problems, and as an esthetic effect or Has’s game with the audience in the artistic and philosophical dimension. Intertextualism, verbal and situational humor, repeated motifs and stylistic devices are a way of expressing the double meaning of the work, i.e. a manifestation of the author’s irony. It combines seriousness and comedy, emotionality and intellectual distance, and finally, a critical and a creative attitude.
All these traits gain special significance in The Manuscript Found in Saragossa (1965). The poetics and form of the work resemble the Romantic concept of poetry (creative work) as an arabesque. The irony of Has’s film is similar to Romantic irony because its result is the narrative experience of the Self which can transcend its experiences. Irony also manifests itself in the author’s attitude towards his work which (attitude) consists in exposing the fictional nature of the presented world. In Has’s films, irony allows one to break free from the burden of actual existence and the problems of history, time, and memory in order to make them a subject of art.
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