Wiktoria Szymanska: The Man Who Made Angels Fly

I watched it on my MacBook and I can’t wait to see it again on a big screen. I will save some of my many superlatives for that occasion. So what you get now is a first impression of a film that touched me deeply. It is nothing less than magnificent. What a man and what an artist Michael Meschke is and what a beautiful documentary, Wiktoria Szymanska has made.

She could have gone mainstream and told us about the great puppeteer in a more traditional way, and that could have worked as an informational introduction to an artist, but she made a different choice by inviting the viewer to enter Meschke’s world and be with him, when he makes his puppets come alive in his studio, in the streets of Paris, in a house in Greece, in Stockholm, where he had his Marionetteater and where he has his storage. Yes, what becomes of that, when ”I get the final call” as he says!

Everything in this film is so precisely crafted and in harmony with Meschke’s own fascinating puppeteering craftmanship. Wojciech Staron catches all the details with his camera, close-up’s of hands and strings, and puppet faces, which express emotions, be it Don Quixote, Le Petit Prince, Antigone (impressive scenes with the actress Irène Jacob) or Baptiste, who has a special place in my heart – associations to Les Enfants du Paradis, Marcel Carné’s wonderful film, Etienne Decroux, Jean-Louis Barrault… Meschke takes Baptiste on a walk in Paris, where he (Baptiste) meets children, looks at grafitti in the streets, the word Love in many languages (cut to Meschke and his wife), or Baptiste watches the world go by from his window. As Meschke has watched the world go by in different parts of Europe, from he as Jewish was exiled to Sweden at the age of 5 till now. A long life and a long career that also includes experimental films that Szymanska brings in as quotes which are often comments on the world, we live in.

It is such a rich film, you watch it with a smile and the tear in the corner of your eye, that comes from the beauty (also very much helped by the music composed for the film) you have experienced through the eternal meeting of evil and good, life and death. As for the director she has again (last time was with ”Themerson and Themerson”) shown her unique talent for an interpretation of an artist’s world and work.

The film has been shown at the Hot Docs Festival. It will be shown on tv stations in Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands – and on numerous festivals if there is any justice. 

France, UK, Poland, 2013, 61 mins. Producers: Wiktoria Szymanska, Estelle Robin You (co-producer), Greg Davis (associated producer).

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3866