The prolific Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi's debut feature, Struktura Krysztalu (The Structure of Crystals, 1969), is a Chekhovian chamber drama contrasting the divergent lifestyles of two old friends. Marek (Andrzej Zarnecki) is an eminently successful Polish physicist from the city. As the film opens, he journeys to the secluded home of old college mate Jan (Jan Myslowicz), who has achieved "spiritual and moral balance" by removing himself more or less permanently from harried urban life and relocating to a more rural environment. The film appears simplistic on the surface, but only deceptively so, for it places great weight on behavioral observation and Zanussi uses the material to interweave social and ethical questions into the mundanity of day-to-day occurrences, using those events to create natural tension and conflict between his characters. Struktura Krysztalu swept a wide array of international awards, including the Mermaid Award at Warsaw and numerous other honors at festivals including Valladolid, Panama, and Mar del Plata. It brought the 30-year-old Zanussi international acclaim and carried him into the ranks of the Third Polish Cinema, a protégé of such legends as Polanski, Wajda, and Munk.
by Nathan Southern synopsis