Seksmisja (1984)

Poland,
117m (Poland – cut version), 120m (Poland – uncut version)
35mm film, colour
mono, Polish
Reviewed at The

A Polish science fiction film directed by Juliusz Machulski.

Plot Summary

Maks and Albert volunteer for a experiment in 1991 and wake in the year 2044 to find that the world is now ruled by women. Sheltering from a devastated earth, the human race lives underground – but the arrival of Albert and Maks threatens to disrupt the matriarchal society and reveal the truth about what has really happened above ground…

Credits

Crew
Director: Juliusz Machulski
Zespol Filmowy Kadr
Production Managers: Andrzej Soltysik, Czeslaw Klak, Jan Kaczmarski
Script: Pavel Hajný, Jolanta Hartwig, Juliusz Machulski
Director of Photography: Jerzy Lukaszewicz
Camera Operator: Janusz Gauer
Editor: Miroslawa Garlicka
Music: Henryk Kuzniak
Music Director: Ryszarda Dudka
Music Consultant: Piotr Marczewski
Sound Recording: Marek Wronko, Jacek Szymanski, Jerzy Nozdryn-Plotnicki, Bohdan Mazurek
Sound Effects: Zygmunt Nowak
Costume Designer: Malgorzata Braszka
Art Director: Janusz Sosnowski
Set Designers: Ewa Grochelowicz, Wojciech Marczewski-Saloni
Set Dresser: Wieslowa Chojkowska
Graphics Supervisor: Beata Januszkiewicz
Computer Operator: Zdzislaw Sowinski
Production Assistants: Barbara Patowska, Janusz Wachata, Zofia Bagacz
Subtitles: Edward Rothert

Cast
Olgierd Lukaszewicz (Albert)
Jerzy Stuhr (Maks)
Bozena Stryjkowna (Lamia)
Boguslawa Pawelec (Emma)
Hanna Stankowna (Tekla)
Beata Tyszkiewicz (Berna)
Ryszarda Hanin (Dy Yanda)
Barbara Ludwizanka (Babcia)
Miroslawa Marcheluk (secretary)
Hanna Mikuc (Linda)
Elzbieta Zajacowna, Ewa Szykulska (instructresses)
Magdalena Kuta, Anna Weslowska (guards in blockhouse)
Grazyna Trela (guard in mine)
Malgorzata Rogacka, Beata Maj-Dobal (group leaders)
Alicja Zommer (Chief)
Elzbieta Jasinska (4th Maks)
Dorota Stalinska (TV reporter)
Janusz Michalowski (Professor Kuppelweiser)
Piotr Stefaniak (assistant)
Juliusz Lubicz-Lisowski (Albert's father)
Zofia Pelwinska (Mak's wife)

Alternative Titles

Sexmission – International English language title
Sex Mission
– Germany/Spain
The Sex Mission
Uppdrag sex
– Sweden

See also
Logan's Run (1976)
Rollerball (1975)
Sleeper (1973)
Star Wars (1977)

Press

1984
The Times 12 July 1984 p.17
Sex Mission was made after martial law, but appears uncompromised and uncompromising in its sharp allegory. […] The confrontation of the old male chauvinism and the new feminist terror provides Machulski not only with a lot of ribald fun, but also a vivid metaphor for every kind of tyranny and political deception. – from a review by David Robinson

Variety 1 August 1984 p.16
Once [on the surface], it's evident that breathing fresh air hardly has a bad effect on anybody. And what's more: there's life on earth. Someone has been living after the holocaust in a real seashore paradise, while making periodic visits to the underworld in disguise. This last joke boosts the film after the basic routines have become repetitious. Although not up to the standards of those quality Polish pics of the late 1970s, “Sex Mission” is nonetheless the best pic to emerge from the Warsaw studios over the past season – from a review by Holt

The Economist 24 November 1984 p.116
The director, Juliusz Machulski, draws on every sexist joke in the book. Machinery in the twenty-first century works only in response to a magic, four-letter password (as our heroes discover when they utter it as an oath). And not all the ladies are what they seem – there are falsies in this female paradise, too. The film ends (how else?) on a close-up of the first male baby to have been born since the big bang wiped out man (but not, mysteriously, woman). Machulski works so hard to ensure that a disgracefully good time is had by all (feminists apart) that one is minded to let him off with a reprimand. – author not known

1985
The Guardian 22 August 1985 p.11
Juliusz Machulski's beautifully shot and very ingenious science fantasy [is] a bitingly ironic social comedy which some characterise as regressive but others regard as an allegory about political deception. I'd go along with the latter view, though I am prepared to admit that occasionally this young Polish director has it both ways […] It doesn't seem to me that Machulski approves of [the heroes] much, which is the acid test in weighing up the film as anti-feminist, nor can I believe that he has only the sex war in mind. But there is also no doubt that the idea of a world commanded by one sex doesn't commend itself to him either. He's not above a certain deliberate provocation. However you take it, this is a highly ingenious movie, an advance in the entertaining Va Banque, his first feature, and very definitely something to see. It's certainly one of the recommendable films in London just now in spite of the fact that it's naughtiest line (“Let's head East. There must be some kind of civilisation there”) was hastily removed after its Warsaw premiere.

Midweek 22 August 1985 p.14
The title may suggest more of the same, but this is a serious political film from Poland about an all-female society in the mid-21st society. […] The film's young writer/director, Juliusz Machulski, uses the feminist theme as a metaphor for totalitarianism, sending up the aspirations of the power-hungry, but with a saving leavening of humour. – from a review by Minty Clinch

What's On 22 August 1985 p.47
The film is actually very funny and quite original in its story. […] On rather convincing mock-futuristic sets (clearly constructed on a budget miniscule compared with that of even B-movies in America), a lively game of cat-and-mouse develops, and an ingenious twist-ending provides further satiric delight and ample opportunity for the large cast to release some appealing, throwaway, dialogue. An immensely likeable, unusually entertaining conversation-piece. – from a review by Phillip Bergson

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.52 no.621 (October 1985) pp.318-319
The Sex Mission has been generally so well-received that at the risk of appearing totally without a sense of humour it is important to say, immediately and categorically, that it is just not funny. Consider the implications: it is suggested that the film is an allegory of the Polish state which is founded on deceit, where the population is deliberately hoodwinked into thinking things are other than they are, and where those with memories are deliberately kept apart from those who subscribe to the new dispensation. This population of brainless, mindless, passive zombies, it is proposed, are like women-indeed, they are women, and what can rescue them from their state of hopeless subservience is a dose of male energy, virility, violence… Juliusz Machulski apparently, wants the West to rape the East and the East to lie back and enjoy it. This can't be serious, but to a Pole it must be a joke in very poor taste, and to a woman it is simply contemptible. […] Regrettably, for our dissolute Western tastes, it is neither expensive enough nor imaginative enough to hold a candle to recent productions from Hollywood and elsewhere. In the poverty of its technology, it closely resembles Nineteen Eighty-Four, but that film was a period reconstruction; it shares features with Brazil, but entirely lacks the zaniness that Terry Gilliam brought to his s-f spoof. In narrative and execution, The Sex Mission is never more than mildly amusing and is frequently leaden. […] The only conceivable way in which The Sex Mission might have worked was as a fairy-tale: Maks finds his princess (Lamia) who, awakened by his kiss, leads him out of Hades into a land flowing with milk and honey. But Machulski's approach inhibits such a reading; it is his total commitment to naturalism which in the end makes the film so offensive. – from a review by Jill Forbes

References

Periodicals

  • City Limits no.203 (23 August 1985) p.23 – review
  • The Economist 24 November 1984 p.116 – review
  • Filmowy Serwis Prasowy vol.30 no.1/2 (1 January 1984) pp.16-20 (Poland) – illustrated article
  • Kino no.3 (1984) pp.8-10 (Poland) – illustrated article
  • Kino vol.21 no.5 (May 1987) pp.12-15 – interview with Jolanta Hartwig
  • The Listener vol.114 no.2924 (29 August 1985) p.33 – review
  • Midweek 22 August 1985 p.14 – review (by Minty Clinch)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.52 no.621 (October 1985) pp.318-319 – credits, synopsis, review (by Jill Forbes)
  • Screen International no.512 (31 August 1985) p.19 – credits, review
  • Time Out no.783 (22 August 1985) p.51 – review
  • tte Filipacchi Medias GroupFilm vol.38 no.6 (6 February 1983) pp.6-7 – article
  • tte Filipacchi Medias GroupFilm vol.39 no.13 (25 March 1984) p.23 – credits
  • tte Filipacchi Medias GroupFilm vol.39 no.29 (15 July 1984) p.9 – note
  • Variety 1 August 1984 p.16 – credits, review (by Holt)
  • What's On 22 August 1985 p.47 – review (by Phillip Bergson)

Newspapers

  • The Guardian 22 August 1985 p.11 – review (by Derek Malcolm)
  • The Times 12 July 1984 p.17 – review (by David Robinson)

Books

  • Horror and Science Fiction Films IV by Donald C. Willis p.446