1980, Poland, 10, 35 mm, colour
|Tango is Rybczynskys best-known film; it won the Academy Award in 1983 for Best Animated Short and is a fine example of his technical mastery and hold experimental approach to representing life and reality. The film begins simply and annocuously enough: To the tune of an antique tango, a boy bounces a ball through a window into an empty apartment. He climbs in, retrieves the ball and exits. As he enters a second time, a woman nursing a baby also enters through a door and walks out. The boy with the ball, the woman with the baby continue to repeat their actions as the rest of the cast of 26 enter individually, perform a brief activity and exit. Eventually the room is filled with the people engaged in mostly mundane but specific activities (including birth, death and bodily functions) unrelated to the group as a whole and completely oblivious to each other. On one level, Tango is a "dance" sardonically commenting on over-crowded housing conditions in urban Poland, Rybczynskys native country, and the alienation it engenders. On a non-political level, the film is a marvel of techical choreography: The filmmaker first had to photograph the empty room and then shoot each actor separetely, using chalk marks on the floor to isolate their predeterminated paths.
John Canemaker, 'Rybczynskys Tricks, Print, September-October 1984