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The Saragossa Manuscript 15 rating

During the Napoleonic wars, a soldier discovers a strange manuscript that reveals endless stories-within-stories. Wojciech Has' opus is a major cult film of the 60s, revered by Luis Buñuel, David Lynch and Jerry Garcia.

Fantasy 1965 183 mins

Director: Wojciech Jerzy Has


During Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, two soldiers discover a strange manuscript at an inn. The book chronicles the adventures of Alfonso van Worden. Alfonso’s passage through the dangerous Sierra Morena mountains is repeatedly interrupted by seemingly random encounters with an assortment of larger than life figures. As the soldiers immerse themselves in the script they become immersed in its endlessly interconnected narrative.

Wojciech Has’ adaptation of Polish novelist Jan Potocki’s magnum opus became a major countercultural favourite during the 1960s, largely due to the patronage of the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, who regarded the film's narrative waywardness as a kind of cinematic trip. Luis Buñuel, Neil Gaiman and David Lynch were also admirers, while Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppolla assisted in the film's restoration and re-release. Despite its length and the slippery challenge of its storytelling, The Saragossa Manuscript is largely a lighthearted work, laden with warm comedy, ribald drama, Gothic atmospherics and unforgettable imagery.