Bless You! (Na Zdrowie!) [Paulina Ziółkowska, Poland, 2018]
Na Zdrowie! (Bless You!) is a Polish animation written and directed by Paulina Ziółkowska. It is a surrealist comedy with dialogue replaced with the busy cacophony of traffic and bustling footsteps in overcrowded metropolitan streets. The only human sounds we hear are strangers sneezing, of which there is a lot, as everybody appears to be spreading this particular contagion in something of a germ-passing relay. Absurdist in its execution and rationalist in its conceit, the film ambitiously attempts to demonstrate not only the indiscriminate nature of how germs spread, but also explores the complex infectiousness of our thoughts and actions.
By using vibrant colours and dynamically abstracting our familiar world, Bless You! attempts to signify the universe in the miniature; our bodies, microcosmic of the being and nothingness of our universe and the cosmological connections within it. Despite life’s absurdities, experiences and biological process, they are all necessary parts constituting an infinite whole. In the end, it’s a courageous effort that narrowly misses the mark. At only five minutes long and utilising minimal sound effects and without dialogue, the animation, if not ultimately enlightening, is nonetheless delightful to watch.