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The Saragossa Manuscript

The Saragossa Manuscript (1999)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 1,312

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Movie Info

Alfons (Zbigniew Cybulski) is a young army captain who meets two women of Moorish ancestry at what appears to be a deserted inn near Madrid. They tell Alfons he is the descendant of a noble family and that he must undergo a series of challenging missions to prove himself. A magician tries to take his soul, and he is visited by ghosts near the mountains of Madrid. Author Jan Poticki committed suicide a year after the symbolic and allusive book this movie was based on was published. ~ Clarke

Mar 26, 2002

Cowboy Booking International

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All Critics (12) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (1) | DVD (2)

The director's eye for baroque black-and-white imagery puts him behind only Bava and Welles, while the film's sharp social satire gives heft to its ambition.

April 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

By any standard, a long strange trip.

April 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Infus[es] a similar unearthly cadenceo the swashbuckling genre that Jodorowski did to the western with El Topo.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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These trials suggest a goofy, sprawling, all-purpose allegory so overstuffed with symbolism that it plays as a kind of epic spoof of the form.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Derived from a hundred-sixty-year-old novel written in French, Wojciech Has's 1965 Edinburgh and San Sebastián prize-winning 'The Saragossa Manuscript' is in beautiful black and white

January 31, 2014 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

It's not quite as life-changing as all that, but it's certainly playful and very interesting as a study of narrative flow.

July 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

a maddening celebration of the power of narrative to amuse, bewilder, disorient and entrap.

April 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

A wonderful, surreal assault on narrative; it's funny, intelligent, and a ridiculously sly good time.

July 29, 2004
F5 (Wichita, KS)

An interesting failure.

March 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (2)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Surely one of the most convolutedly plotted films ever to reach the silver screen.

May 26, 2002 Full Review Source:

The three-hour movie is frequently described as a Chinese box of imaginative stories within stories based on an early 19th-century novel by Jan Potocki.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for The Saragossa Manuscript

Great movie. Kinda sucky American DVD though. The aspect ratio looks wrong and no extras to speak of. This film has so much going on it practically cries out for a scholarly commentary.
January 20, 2011

Super Reviewer

a stupendous surrealist mindfuck of a movie based on what can only be a fantastic book by a complete madman...takes place in spain but filmed in polish and from there it only gets weirder. the intricate story structure folds back on itself multiple times, with characters including gypsies, bandits, moorish princesses and a kabbalist. i probably need to watch it again to get them all straight but i'm a sucker for films that begin with a magical book :) btw this film was made in 1965, not 1999!
April 20, 2010
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Polish black and white film about Alfonso van Worden, captain in the Walloon Guard. What happens to him, and then what happens to other people, and then stories that turn into other stories ..... a bit like the Thousand and One Arabian Nights, except it only took me four consecutive evenings to get all the way through it - partly the 3 hour viewing time, partly the multiple plots requiring concentration, and mostly because I'm rubbish at remembering names and faces. Which is not to say its dull, it isn't, more to say my brain hurts easily.

According to Wikipedia, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Luis Buñuel, David Lynch, Lars von Trier, Harvey Keitel and Jerry Garcia have at various times described The Saragossa Manuscript as their favorite film. Bet their brans didn't hurt.
July 17, 2010
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

By the Elysian Fields and Hades,the photographic proportions of this film were highly jubilant!The farcical approach helps to create a Dionysian environment and at times,a zany comprehension of non-linear events,in which the ending is unimportant...Wojciech Has prefers to entice us,and sometimes lure us in the trap of hypnosis of a manuscript so enchanting,you'd think it was made for the pleasure of confusion and only...
September 24, 2009
Dimitris Springer

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Die Handschrift von Saragossa (DE)
  • The Saragossa Manuscript (1965) (UK)
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