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Last Resort (2000)

Main image of Last Resort (2000)
35mm, 77 minutes, colour
DirectorPawel Pawlikowski
Production CompanyBBC Films
ProducerRuth Caleb
Written byPawel Pawlikowski
CinematographyRyszard Lenczewski
EditorDavid Charap
MusicMax De Wardener

A Russian woman, abandoned by her English fiancé, finds herself stuck with her son in an asylum camp in a deserted seaside resort. Vulnerable and friendless, she develops a relationship with an amusement arcade manager who seems to offer hope of escape.

Video Clips

1. Welcome to Britain (2:24)
2. Armpit of the universe (0:58)
3. Bingo night (2:30)
4. A great escape (2:56)

What do you think?

Watch the first extract, 'Welcome to Britain'

  1. How does the filmmaker evoke our sympathy for the mother and her son? Do you think this is effective?

Now watch the third extract, 'Bingo Night'

  1. Why do you think the filmmaker chooses to show Tanya in a bingo hall?
  2. Why does Tanya think that the city is a kind of punishment for her past mistakes? Do you think it's common for refugees to feel like this?

Now watch the last extract, 'A great escape'

  1. What images are used in this sequence to suggest Tanya and her son are escaping from prison? What about the cinematography (lighting, filters, camera movements) and the music? How effective are these approaches?
  1. Paweł Pawlikowski uses a variety of techniques to show the mother and son in a sympathetic light such as close ups, humour, affection, and emotion. He also emphasises the starkness of the airport's interior together with the formal interrogation by the security man which add to the feelings of alienation and isolation.
  2. These scenes, shot on handheld camera, allow the viewer to share the characters' point of view.
  3. The bingo hall is not only a typically British seaside attraction, but it also functions here to show how out of place Tanya looks and feels - the uniform rows of bingo booths and grey-haired ladies who sit in them jar with Tanya's youthful appearance.
  4. The seaside town that Tanya and her son are detained in seems like punishment because they are unable to leave and the conditions are so desolate, in effect, it's like a prison.
  5. Images such as the 'keyhole' style shot of the guards patrolling the sea wall, institutional-type spotlighting on the walls around the beach, together with the atmospheric gloomy light and suspenseful music all provoke the sense of a 'prison break'.