The foehn wind, known as the Halny, shatters the Polish and the Slovakian Tatra mountains several times each year. It is a wind that blows from the south, causing a rise in temperature and a drop in air humidity, and comes with sudden gusts causing an incredible amount of damage. Trees – even entire parts of forests – collapse, bridges fall and houses are destroyed. Beyond the material destruction, locals also believe it holds the power to play with people’s minds.
Following the lives of three main characters in the Polish part of the Tatra mountains, Michal Bielawski’s film is an intense and atmospheric portrayal of nature’s incredible force and how it relates to people’s lives. Their lives seem structured around the wind’s coming, from the tension that builds for its arrival, when hell breaks lose and disaster strikes, to the calm of its aftermath.
Beyond the material destruction, locals also believe it holds the power to play with people’s minds.
In a subtle way, Halny is also a charater. It is a force to reckon with, but in the region it is revered as if supernatural. Its coming is felt with anticipation. The locals fear it and brace accordingly. They believe these times also increase the suicide rate. This belief is so deeply rooted in the local culture, it has promted researchers to study it, finding that Halny did not change the probability of suicide, yet it increased its risk in summer and autumn.
A long anticipated prophecy
A middle-aged poetess, a grandpa with a mustache and a shell decorated hat, and a young woman working in an ambulance, all go about their lives. We see fragments of their days and moods, both uneventfull and intense. As the number of ambulance calls increases, the man manages his farm, and the poetess buys a piece of the region’s beloved forest, there is sense of iminent danger in the air, ready to materialize at any moment. The force of nature is preparing something, and all three characters prepare for it. The unexpected lies in the details – the moving clouds, the closeup on the trees texture, the earth moving just a bit today and then again a little bit tomorrow.…
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