World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Hourglass Sanatorium

Article Id: WHEBN0002051594
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Hourglass Sanatorium  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Hourglass Sanatorium

The Hourglass Sanatorium
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wojciech Jerzy Has
Screenplay by Wojciech Jerzy Has
Based on Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass 
by Bruno Schulz
Starring Jan Nowicki
Tadeusz Kondrat
Mieczysław Voit
Halina Kowalska
Gustaw Holoubek
Music by Jerzy Maksymiuk
Cinematography Witold Sobocinski
Editing by Janina Niedźwiecka
Studio Zespół Filmowy Silesia
Distributed by Film Polski
Release date(s)Template:Plainlist
Running time 119 minutes
Country Poland
Language Polish

The Hourglass Sanatorium (Polish: Sanatorium pod klepsydrą) is a 1973 Polish film directed by Wojciech Jerzy Has, starring Jan Nowicki, Tadeusz Kondrat, Mieczysław Voit, Halina Kowalska and Gustaw Holoubek. It is also known as The Sandglass in English speaking countries. The story follows a man who visits his father in a mystical sanatorium where time does not behave normally. The film is an adaptation of Bruno Schulz's story collection Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass. It won the Jury Prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.


Joseph (Jan Nowicki) travels through a dream-like world, taking a dilapidated train to visit his dying father, Jacob, in a sanatorium. When he arrives at the hospital, he finds the entire facility is going to ruin and no one seems to be in charge or even caring for the patients. Time appears to behave in unpredictable ways, reanimating the past in an elaborate artificial caprice.

Though Joseph is always shown as an adult, his behavior and the people around often depict him as a child. He befriends Rudoph, a young boy who owns a postage stamp album. The names of the stamps trigger in Joseph a wealth of association and adventure. Among the many occurrences in this visually potent phantasmagoria include Joseph re-entering childhood episodes with his wildly eccentric father (who lives with birds in an attic), being arrested by a mysterious unit of soldiers for having a dream that was severely criticized in high places, reflecting on a girl he fantasized about in his boyhood and commandeering a group of historic wax mannequins. Throughout his strange journey, an ominous blind train conductor reappears like a death figure.

Has also adds a series of reflections on the Holocaust that were not present in the original texts, reading Schulz's prose through the prism of the author's death during World War II and the demise of the world he described.


  • Jan Nowicki as Józef
  • Tadeusz Kondrat as Jakub, Józef's father
  • Irena Orska as Józef's mother
  • Halina Kowalska as Adela
  • Gustaw Holoubek as Dr. Gotard
  • Mieczysław Voit as train conductor
  • Bożena Adamek as Bianka
  • Ludwik Benoit as Szloma
  • Henryk Boukołowski as firefighter
  • Seweryn Dalecki as Teodor the clerk
  • Jerzy Przybylski as Mr. de V.
  • Julian Jabczyński as dignitary
  • Wiktor Sadecki as dignitary
  • Janina Sokołowska as nurse
  • Wojciech Standełło as Jew
  • Tadeusz Schmidt as officer
  • Szymon Szurmiej as Jew reciting verses from Ecclesiastes false
  • Paweł Unrug as ornithologist
  • Filip Zylber as Rudolf
  • Jerzy Trela as jester


The Hourglass Sanatorium is not solely an adaptation of Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, but also includes sequences from other works by Bruno Schulz. Regarding the possibility of a film adaptation of a book written by Schulz, director Wojciech Jerzy Has said: "Schulz's poetic prose was the reading of my early youth. It influenced my films. That is why the realization of The Hourglass Sanatorium was a must for me. My aim was not to make a literal adaption of the work, but rather to do justice to what we call the work's poetics: its unique, isolated world, its atmospherics, colours and shapes."[1] The time period of the film is a mixture of elements from the turn-of-the-century Galicia where Schulz grew up, and Has' own pre-World War II memories of the same region.[1] The film was produced by Zespół Filmowy Silesia. Principal photography took place at the Wytwórnia Filmów Fabularnych studios in Łódź.[2]


Despite being a major production, the finished film was met by reluctancy from the Polish authorities. Not only was the crumbled sanatorium interpreted as a parallel to the poor condition of many institutions and manor houses in contemporary Poland; Has had also chosen to emphasize the Jewish aspects of the source material, and this soon after an antisemitic campaign the government had launched in 1968, which had prompted around 30,000 Polish Jews to leave the country. The authorities forbid Has to submit The Hourglass Sanatorium for the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, but the director managed to smuggle a print abroad so the film could be screened at the festival.[1] The Cannes jury, led by actress Ingrid Bergman, honoured the film with the Jury Prize.[3][4] The Polish premiere took place on 11 December 1973.[2]

See also


Essay on the film: A Journey into the Underworld

External links

  • Internet Movie Database
Preceded by
Jury Prize, Cannes
tied with The Invitation
Succeeded by
no award 1974-1979
The Constant Factor
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.