SeksMisja is arguably most famous for somehow escaping the censors during Communist rule in Poland, and even with a very limited knowledge of the period, it’s easy to appreciate how impressive a feat that is. There is enough commentary on communism and totalitarianism here that, although many of the finer points were lost on me, there was still plenty to mull over once the film ends. Rather wonderfully though the film isn’t heavy handed at all. Despite having so much to say politically, it also functions perfectly well as a sexually charged comedy, a wry look at gender dynamics and as pure sci-fi escapism.
Sexmission tells the story of two men who volunteer to take part in a historic experiment; they are to be cryogenically frozen for three years and will wake up as heroes. Except… that doesn’t quite happen. They emerge to find a changed society where men have become extinct and women rule a strange new world. At first things look rather promising for them being the only men in a sex deprived society, but they soon find that they haven’t quite stumbled upon the utopia that they thought they had…
The lead actors all do a nice job here with the comedic elements of the script. They bounce off each other nicely, and even managing to reinvigorate comedy situations which have been overmined in the past for comedic value. That’s not to say that its comedy consistently works well; there is a ‘pie throwing’ event at one point which doesn’t really add anything to the film, but perhaps that can be put down to the scene’s slight shift in focus away from our leads. Sexmission is undoubtedly at its strongest when we are just watching Jerzy Stuhr and Olgierd Łukaszewicz together as they have such a fun chemistry, but Bozena Stryjkówna’s presence also makes a strong mark as the primary female character to enter the plot.
Some do criticise the film for supposedly being anti feminist but I argue that these claims are unfounded as it is clearly dealing with totalitarianism rather than feminism here. Male stereotypes are mocked and lampooned as much as female ones are, and the focus is clearly on exposing the silly ways we define gender rather than attacking the principles of feminism. The one issue regarding gender which the film’s critics raise which does holds some water is the movie’s reliance on female nudity. There are a fair few nudity shots here but I think that this is pretty clearly a parody of certain classic sci-fi films rather than an issue of exploitation.
So I recommend that you take a look at this Polish classic if you are looking to have a fun time with a knowingly silly and culturally interesting film, which makes you think as much as it entertains you. It’s farcical and sexually charged humour won’t be for everyone, but I for one had fun with it.
What is the film’s greatest strength? How well balanced it’s different elements are.
Its greatest weakness? Some scenes don’t quite work as well as they should.
Would I see it again? Yes, as I continue to understand more of Poland’s culture and history I’m sure that I will return to Sexmission!
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