Witkacy & Malinowski: a cinematic séance in 23 scenes

Witkacy i Malinowski: seans filmowy w 23 scenach

40 min film, 5.1 sound or 
installation 3m x 5m with video projection, 5.1 sound, 45 min loop 2017 - 2018

I've always dreamt of something extraordinary happening, like in a film ... but in the end it means death. The Crazy Locomotive  

Nowhere in the film is the potential of cinema better demonstrated than in the film’s ending. In its otherworldly grace and scorching memorability, Jadwiga’s closing monologue (and Gillies’ film as a whole) serves as a resurrection of the supernatural and a celebration of the corresponding powers of cinema.

Tyler Patterson review Rundog Art

The conflict between art and science, materialism and metaphysics, is personified in the rupture between S. I.  Witkiewcz (know as Witkacy), ‘the most universal artistic figure in Poland in the first half of the 20th century’, and Bronisław Malinowski, 'the father of contemporary anthropology', on a train between the Australian cities of Brisbane and Toowoomba at the very beginning of World War 1.


Using adaptions from their writings, including a new translation of Witkacy’s play The Crazy Locomotive, the conflict between the friends is evoked in the context of Australian colonialism and the outbreak of technological mass suicide. An experimental docudrama, the work can be viewed in a cinema or incorporated into an immersive installation that seats the audience as passengers/cinema spectators within a carriage/cinema traveling into the future.


Pollyanna Nowicki    (Jadwiga Janczewska) 

Tom Pelik    (Witkacy)
Matej Busic    (Bronisław Malinowski) 

Richard Hilliar    (Nicolas)  
Craig Meneaud    (Mr Tengier)
Paul Dwyer    (William Bateson)
Liam Megarrity    (Prisoner)
Chris Ryan    (Queensland Policeman)

Clare Grant    (Tea Lady)  
Hugo Larsen    (Young Witkacy)
Oscar Clarke    (Young Malinowski)

Meg Clarke (Young Woman)
passengers: Josephine Barton, Juno Butler-Cole, Max Butler-Cole, Katia Molino, Zilla Gillies-Plate, Rory Potter, Finn Potter, Rose Purse, Laura Turner, 
Madelene Veber, Nitin Vengurlekar


written, adapted and directed:  John Gillies
with excerpts from Szalona Lokomotywa (The Crazy Locomotive) 1923 by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (translated by Izabella Mackiewicz & Lech Mackiewicz)
and words adapted from Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Bronisław Malinowski and William Bateson


sound and vision: John Gillies

co-producer: Laura Turner
consulting producer: Lech Mackiewicz 
translation:  Izabella Mackiewicz, Lech Mackiewicz
camera assistants: Joseph Florio, Thomas Robertson
sound recordists: Joseph Florio, Laura Turner, John Gillies
makeup and dresser: Madelene Veber
construction: Robert Cooney, Jacob Gawlick, Willy Hall, Louis Pratt
location manager: Willy Hall 
visual FX: Orbitvfx 
visual compositors: Chris Leaver, Kanin Phemayothin
accounts: Auspicious Arts


Ghan Tracks                                                                                                          
composed and conducted by Jon Rose                                                             
Claire Edwardes: vibraphone                                                                          
Cazzbo Johns: sousaphone
Lamorna Nightingale: piccolo, flute 
Jason Noble: bass clarinet

Damien Ricketson: plectraphone
Clayton Thomas: double bass
Jennifer Torrence: percussion
Eugene Ughetti: vibraphone


The People's Music
composed and conducted by Jon Rose

Orchestra of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts 


On the Queensland Railway Lines (Trad)

lyrics: Queensland Realist Writers Group

Clare Grant: vocal


all other music and sound design: John Gillies


preview: 'Witkacy pod Strzechy', Słupsk


Bibliography and links

Review by Tyler Patterson

Love, Materialism and Metaphysics by Keith Gallasch

Witkacy in the Mirror by Stella Rosa McDonald

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane 2019

Exhibitions and Screenings
Tatra Museum, Zakopane, 2020
Brisbane International Film Festival, 2019

Funknuckles, Worrowing, 2019
Sydney Film Festival, 2019

Immortality, Murray Art Museum Albury, 2018

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© John Gillies & the authors. All rights reserved.

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