At one point Jaroslaw speaks about his own work at "the borderlands of linguistics and information theory" and as with Zanussi's masterpiece of several years earlier, Illumination (1973), Camouflage once again hunts in the grey area between sciences hard and social. Jakub sees the world in terms of nature's red tooth and claw and it breeds cynicism which he seeks to instil in his younger charge mostly for his own bitter amusement. It boils down to sophistry at times - and when artificial languages are discussed, how can it not - but this is also the point, with Zanussi's keen eye not missing the inherent corruptions of the camp organisers. Jakub is worldly wise and easily quells a student rebellion, but his following quip that "they're no less conformist that you or I" is a damning one. Dialogue is the order of the day and Zanussi script is littered with witticisms and bracing intellect, never assuming that its audience will not be able to keep up.
Even as discussions become entwined in dialectic materialism, deconstructing ideology, and comparative grammar, they remain endlessly fascinating and razor sharp. Form follows function and though the director is more than capable of exquisite stylistic acrobatics, here he allows screenplay and characters to do the talking that they're there for. The camera spins and wheels around the camp, but only in service of tracking the latest in flowing ruminations whether they be across a bustling dinner table or over the shoulder of a pupil. Most impressive, however, are the ideas; overlaying multiple explorations onto a seemingly simple narrative, Zanussi wields them with precision. How much they are merely for his own amusement is only known to him and the maliciously mischievous Jakub, and the answers to his probing questions, he leaves to the audience.
The 13th Kinoteka runs from 8 April - 29 May. The full 2015 programme, ticketing details and more can be viewed at kinoteka.org.uk. You can follow our coverage here.
Ben Nicholson | @BRNicholson