IMPERATIV Imperative

1982 – 35mm – b&n/colore – 102′


Direction: Krzysztof Zanussi

Screenplay: Krzysztof Zanussi

Cinematography: Slawomir Idziak

Editing: Liesgret Schmitt-Klink

Music: Wojciech Kilar

Costumes: Anna B. Sheppard

Cast: Robert Powell, Brigitte Fossey, Sigfrit Steiner, Matthias Habich, Leslie Caron, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, Jan Biczycki

Production: Telefilm Saar GmbH, SR



Augustin is a 30-year-old university professor. He does not believe in religion. His only belief is in maths, to which he devotes all his time. Then suddenly a series of pressing existential questions start looming in his mind: what is the meaning of life? Is there a god? What is there after death? So he begins a spiritual search that will push him to the edge of sanity.



“Mr. Zanussi has said that in his youth he was deeply religious, but has since lost his faith. It would seem rather evident from Imperative and his other work, however, that the Catholicism of his childhood has marked him for life. He brings to mind the great French novelist George Bernanos, whose Diary of a Country Priest, adapted for the screen by Robert Bresson, is a film classic. Imperative is a strange but interesting film – wordy, fanatic, a bit mad. Mr. Powell exactly captures Augustin’s fevered spiritual anxiety. Leslie Caron in her youth was excellent at playing flighty, spoiled young women and here, as Augustin’s mother, she is excellent as a flighty, spoiled matron.” (Richard Grenier, The New York Times, 29 marzo 1985)


1982 Mostra di Venezia – Competition: Special Jury Prize, Pasinetti Award, OCIC Award – Special Mention, Golden Phoenix for Best Actor (R. Powell)