The Saragossa Manuscript (1965) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Saragossa Manuscript (1965)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Alfons (Zbigniew Cybulski) is a young army captain who meets two women of Moorish ancestry at what appears to be a deserted inn near Madrid. They tell Alfons he is the descendant of a noble family and that he must undergo a series of challenging missions to prove himself. A magician tries to take his soul, and he is visited by ghosts near the mountains of Madrid. Author Jan Poticki committed suicide a year after the symbolic and allusive book this movie was based on was published.


Zbigniew Cybulski
as Capt. Alfons van Worden
Leon Niemczyk
as Don Avadoro
Beata Tyszkiewicz
as Dona Rebeca Uzeda
Ludwik Benoit
as Pascheco's Father
Stanislaw Igar
as Don Gaspar Soarez
Iga Cembrzynska
as Princess Emina
Joanna Jedryka
as Princess Zibelda
Slawomir Linder
as van Worden's Father
Miroslawa Lombardo
as van Worden's Mother
Pola Raksa
as Inezilla
August Kowalczyk
as Envoy of the Holy Inquisition
Gustaw Holoubek
as Don Pedro Velasquez
Krzysztof Litwin
as Don Lopez Soarez
View All

Critic Reviews for The Saragossa Manuscript

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (5)

This three-hour swirl of Polish phantasmagoria, from 1965, is an epic piece of japery; it celebrates visions and magic by means of labyrinthine storytelling.

April 24, 2017 | Full Review…

The director's eye for baroque black-and-white imagery puts him behind only Bava and Welles, while the film's sharp social satire gives heft to its ambition.

April 3, 2008 | Rating: 5/6
Top Critic

By any standard, a long strange trip.

April 2, 2008

Infus[es] a similar unearthly cadenceo the swashbuckling genre that Jodorowski did to the western with El Topo.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

These trials suggest a goofy, sprawling, all-purpose allegory so overstuffed with symbolism that it plays as a kind of epic spoof of the form.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/5

One comes away from viewing the film ultimately impressed by the power of imagination in nearly all aspects of life.

September 21, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/4.0 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Saragossa Manuscript

Great movie. Kinda sucky American DVD though. The aspect ratio looks wrong and no extras to speak of. This film has so much going on it practically cries out for a scholarly commentary.

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer


Polish black and white film about Alfonso van Worden, captain in the Walloon Guard. What happens to him, and then what happens to other people, and then stories that turn into other stories ..... a bit like the Thousand and One Arabian Nights, except it only took me four consecutive evenings to get all the way through it - partly the 3 hour viewing time, partly the multiple plots requiring concentration, and mostly because I'm rubbish at remembering names and faces. Which is not to say its dull, it isn't, more to say my brain hurts easily. According to Wikipedia, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Luis Buñuel, David Lynch, Lars von Trier, Harvey Keitel and Jerry Garcia have at various times described The Saragossa Manuscript as their favorite film. Bet their brans didn't hurt.

Lesley N
Lesley N

Super Reviewer


a stupendous surrealist mindfuck of a movie based on what can only be a fantastic book by a complete madman...takes place in spain but filmed in polish and from there it only gets weirder. the intricate story structure folds back on itself multiple times, with characters including gypsies, bandits, moorish princesses and a kabbalist. i probably need to watch it again to get them all straight but i'm a sucker for films that begin with a magical book :) btw this film was made in 1965, not 1999!

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

The Saragossa Manuscript Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features