Film Analysis | Film Reviews

Wonder Years

1 Dec , 2004  

Written by Genevieve Butler | Posted by:

A review of 'Anya (In and Out of Focus)' which screens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston this month.

Anya is the youngest daughter — the first to grow up in the US — of Polish filmmaker Marian Marzynski, and the former TV host and political refugee took every opportunity to capture his daughter on film and video as she grew up. From her early birthday parties, what he described in his voiceover as her first exposure to American consumerism, through the birth of her first child, 20-something years later, Marzynski hardly missed a moment.

To sit through over 100 minutes of home video, even that of one’s own family, is of course a lot to ask: Marzynski shows his daughter at her brattiest formative years and her gawkiest teenage years. However, his candor and his love and pride in his family which allowed him to present his daughter’s C average and his wife’s reserved racism without pretension, make his footage more than something to be endured. Anya and Mommy make peace as she forces an at first uncomfortable debate about race and class in their new home outside of Chicago, and the clearly bright, but also struggling, student develops into a patient and enthusiastic teacher as the years pass.

Marzynski also described his background, being born in a Warsaw ghetto, smuggled out during the war to be raised by Catholic priests and finally adopted, only to grow up knowing of the terrible fate of his father, but not the man himself. His experience — alone with no siblings, few remaining family members, deprived of things and freedom — is the opposite of Anya’s because of what he was able to provide, but also because he insisted upon those things (college, a semester in Israel, time spent in Europe, vacations in Florida) he could not have had himself. Though their differences fueled family fights, it also broadened the minds of both generations.

The film contains an interesting and cohesive narrative touching on issues of multiculturalism, relationships between generations and within the family, and captures the almost 30 years in which the story unfolds with openness, fondness and humor.

Anya In and Out of Focus by Marian Marzynski (2004, 103 min.) screens at the MFA on:

Sun, Dec 12, 11 am
Wed, Dec 15, 5:30 pm
Sat, Dec 18, 10:30 am
Sun, Dec 19, 3:40 pm
For more information: www.mfa.org.


Anya In and Out of Focus by Marian Marzynski (2004, 103 min.) screens at the MFA on: Sun, Dec 12, 11 am Wed, Dec 15, 5:30 pm Sat, Dec 18, 10:30 am Sun, Dec 19, 3:40 pm For more information: www.mfa.org.