Reviews of Polish Movies on DVD 1970-1979 by Richard J. Brzostek

Red Rowan () (1970)


Director: Ewa Petelska;

to

be

reviewed

later

when I get it


How I Unleashed WWII (Jak rozpetalem druga wojne swiatowa) (1970)


Director: Tadeusz Chmielewski;

How I Unleashed WWII (Jak rozpetalem druga wojne swiatowa) is a classic Polish comedy broken into three parts. The story begins on the night before the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. The main character, Franek Dolas, believes he started World War II by a mishap he caused. Franek overslept while on a train that entered the German border and fired a shot at a German. From there all hell broke loose and the war erupted, while Franek was quickly captured and sent to a POW camp.

In part one, our hero wiggles his way out of the German prison camp and treks across Europe to Greece, hoping to rejoin the Polish army. He makes some friends as well as trouble along the way. From there, in part two, he is forced into service in the French Foreign Legion in the Middle East. He manages to escape their service and joins the British, which has some of my favorite parts of the movie. Franek even manages to single handedly take on the Italian army. The story concludes, in part three, with Franek returning to Poland.

Franek Dolas could be aptly described as an accident-prone guy that has just as much bad luck as dumb luck. He uses his wits to confront his difficulties but manages to bumble his way out of trouble despite it anyway. As you can imagine, this movie is hilarious and is one of those classics that never gets old.

Jak rozpetalem druga wojne swiatowa is written and directed by Tadeusz Chmielewski. Despite being a war movie, it is so not serious that it appeals to even those who are not interested in the war. Although How I Unleashed WWII is probably Chmielewski's best-known film, his other well-known movies include Nie lubie poniedzialku (1971) and Wiosna, panie sierzancie (1974).


Krajobraz Po Bitwie

Landscape After Battle (Krajobraz Po Bitwie) (1970)


Director: Andrzej Wajda;

"Landscape After Battle" (1970; Krajobraz Po Bitwie) is a haunting and memorable film directed by Andrzej Wajda that takes place just after World War II. The film is based on several short stories written by Tadeusz Borowski, who survived Auschwitz. The film begins with the Americans entering a concentration camp at the end of the war in 1945, freeing the prisoners. However, they are freed from one camp and placed into another -- this time guarded by the Americans deep inside Germany. Fearing the people held inside the Nazi camps would know no sense of law, the authorities caged them in another prison until they could decide what to do with them.

Tadeusz (played by Daniel Olbrychski) is an intellectual man who sorts through rubbish to find books to read and writes poetry. He befriends a Jewish woman named Nina in the new camp who fled Poland after the war. After talking, they decide to leave the camp to go for a walk in the woods. Once outside the camp, the two share their feelings and becomes physically intimate. Nina tells Tadeusz she would rather be anywhere, except for Poland. Tadeusz, after thinking long, decides Poland is his home and should return there. Both decide that they should reenter the camp for a while, but doing so creates a dramatic turn of events neither expected.

"Landscape After Battle" is a different type of war film, as it really starts with the war just ending. The viewers are exposed to some of the gritty details of the aftermath of war, as the name of the film suggests. The story is partially tragic, as are many Polish films, however, there is a powerful and artistic flair to the film. "Landscape After Battle" is a gem in the crown of achievement of Andrzej Wajda -- one that is sure to have several scenes that will leave you with lasting memories.


Trzecia Czesc Nocy

The Third Part of the Night (Trzecia Czesc Nocy) (1971)


Director: Andrzej Zulawski;

The Third Part of the Night (Trzecia Czesc Nocy) is Andrzej Zulawski's first feature film. The story, partially based on the director's family history, takes place during World War II. War is a dangerous time when life can be taken away in an instant and all one worked to achieve can disappear in a moment.

Michal went with his family to the country so he could recover from an illness. Shortly after he started feeling better, his wife urged him to go for a walk with his father. On his return, he witnesses German soldiers murdering his mother, wife and child. Michal returns to the city and wants to help the resistance aggravate the Germans. On his first mission he inadvertently meets a woman he believes looks like his deceased wife. In a way, Michal is given a second chance as many details of his present life overlap his old one, albeit madness may be just a few steps away.

I think The Third Part of the Night has a Zulawski feel to it that, in part, can be described as being intense. The movie is intense in many ways -- from the story itself to the acting. The story occasionally has dialogue that is partially philosophical and nearly poetic that gives a layer of deeper meaning to its plot. Zulawski's films are also a bit different and The Third Part of the Night also fits this description.

Andrzej Zulawski is an atypical director that presents us with atypical stories. If you are already a fan of Zulawski or just want to check out his work, The Third Part of the Night is a great film to watch. In the years that followed this film, Zulawski refined his technique and his work only got more intense.


Agent Nr 1

Agent #1 (Agent Nr 1) (1972)


Director: Zbigniew Kuzminski ;

During World War II, Polish solders fought throughout Europe. "Agent #1" (1972) is the story of a half-Russian/half-Polish man stationed in Greece on a special mission to monitor activities of Nazi and Italian forces and destroy any targets that could be a threat to the allies. Fluent at several languages, he is the perfect man for the job.

Our hero, code named Agent #1, is good with explosives. We see him in action blowing up boats and always on the run from the Germans. Although he does not act alone on his missions, because he is so successful, he gets most of the credit for his groups exploits. The action and suspense builds as the film progresses.

What makes this movie different from other World War II films is its Greek venue. Some of the scenes have ancient Greek structures in the background, giving them an eerie look. If you enjoy action/war movies, "Agent #1" is sure to entertain you and provide a story that is a bit different.


The Devil (Diabel) (1972)


Director: Andrzej Zulawski;

Andrzej Zulawski's The Devil (Diabel) is a portrait of insanity. It is a horror movie that not everyone will appreciate. The reason for that would mostly be due to it not being sensible. Many of the people in the film act like they are drugged out, there is a theatrical feeling to the way they talk and unquestionably many of them act insane. To say the movie is surrealistic would be an understatement. The Devil is like stepping into a world of insanity.

The story starts out with a crafty beaded man dressed in black entering an asylum run by nuns in 1793, when the Prussians took over part of Poland. He frees a political prisoner, Jakub, moments before the Prussian army goes in and murders everyone there. His liberator becomes a sort of strange guide and tries to influence his morals.

Jakub's guide is very animated and shows him various places as they travel together in the countryside. His impish guide seems all knowing. The people Jakub meets are deeply affected by the war and appear insane. The moral decay Jakub observes influences him. At the urging of his guide, he is transformed into a murderer.

Although The Devil may appear senseless at first, there is meaning in it. At first, my impression was that we are seeing insanity caused by war. But I also thought it suggests the real cause of war and insanity is sin. Of course, just as with great literature, there are many possible messages one could reveal from this film. Furthermore, there are also political comments weaved throughout the entire movie dealing with patriotism and invaders.

The Devil is unquestionably different. The fact that it is a horror, which is relatively rare in Polish cinema, makes it stand out compared to other Polish films. Perhaps the closest film to The Devil (1972) is Instability (Nienasycenie; 2003), which is also Polish. Both films have that surrealistic feeling and nearly everyone in them is crazy; both have atypical sex and nudity interspersed thought the story; both are for viewers that want something very different. I have to add that even if you didn't care for Instability that you still may enjoy the Devil because it very unique.


Sanatorum Pod Klepsydra

The Hour-Glass Sanatorium (Sanatorum Pod Klepsydra) (1973)


Director: Wojciech Jerzy Has;

The Hour-Glass Sanatorium (Sanatorum Pod Klepsydra) is an unusual film directed by Wojciech Has, which is based on a novel by Bruno Schultz. The story begins with Jozef (Jan Nowicki) arriving by train to a sanatorium to visit his father. The sanatorium is immense and in disrepair, with vegetation growing out of the floor in nearly every room and hallway. There is a strangeness to this place as time seems to stand still here. Jozef finds only a nurse and a doctor tending to all the sleeping patients there.

Jozef is told he can go to sleep and rest, bringing us into the strange world of his dreams, which are like a hodgepodge of his past and fantasies. The Hour-Glass Sanatorium captures the essence of dreaming in which at any given moment the scene changes and completely bizarre happenings are taken to be normal. Wandering the dizzy maze of Jozef's past leaves us grasping for meaning. The edges of reality are blurred and the nature of most of the events is truly comparable to hallucinations.

Although there is sure to be a lot of symbolism that one can find mixed into the story, one icon that is hard to overlook is the birds. There are birds throughout the movie, perhaps because Jozef's father has an affinity to them. Furthermore, another inescapable element is that many of the characters in the film are Jewish and has a lot of imagery related to Judaism. The dress (or undress) of the women in the movie also deserves comment. Many of the women wear loose gowns that periodically expose their bosom or are not dressed at all, but not much notice is given to this fact.

The visual beauty and complexity of The Hour-Glass Sanatorium is staggering. However, I don't think everyone will appreciate it, as a seemingly nonsensical film about strange dreams is not for everyone. Viewers who have an appreciation for unusual and intense cinema, such as Andrej Zulawski's work, are likely to find this surrealistic horror to be fulfilling.


Janosik (1973)


Director: Jerzy Passendorfer;

Folklore has it that the bandit Janosik robbed from the rich and gave to the poor on the Slovakian and Polish side of the Tatra Mountains. "Janosik" is a classic 1970s Polish television program, set in the 18th century. The 13-episode series is filled with action, adventure, and romance. There is an array of colorful costumes, fancy hats, and sword fights. Moreover, there is also an element of humor.

Janosik transforms from an innocent sheepherder to chieftain of the bandits, seeking truth and justice. At this time in history, this area of Poland was controlled by the Austrians. The local Count abuses the villagers to his advantage and the Austrian army conscripts many of the young men. The villagers see Janosik as their savior, as he comes to their rescue from time to time. Janosik coming to the aide of the people only enrages the Count and the Austrian army. Ultimately, the vengeful Austrian army and the Count will put all their attention on the capture of Janosik.

In the process of coming to the rescue of the poor villagers, saving his friends from hanging, and kidnapping the Duke's niece with the intention of ransoming her, he falls in love with the beautiful, strong, young village woman Maryna. The romance between Janosik and Maryna builds with time.

The episodes build off each other, and running jokes among the characters emerge. One such joke is the Count's assistant always scheming plans to foil Janosik; yet, they never do and it frustrates the Count. Furthermore, the two brother-in-laws in Janosik's band always argue over the ownership of some land they both claim to own.

"Janosik" is a well liked and highly watched program in Poland, despite its age. It is worth watching this classic Polish television series of the historical exploits of a folk hero.


Clouds of War (Czarne Chmury) (1973)


Director: Andrzej Konic;

"Czarne Chmury" is a 10-episode Polish television show set in the 17th century. I thought the series was filled with exciting duels and horse chase scenes, and some occasional humor as well. To top it off, I thought the series had some of the most dramatic music I have ever heard. In effect, it is like a soap opera as most episodes end with a cliffhanger to keep the viewers in suspense for the next episode. Furthermore, the details and characters are tied together throughout the series. At the start of each episode there is a recap of the past events to refresh your memory or to help those that start watching from somewhere in the middle of the series.

If you enjoyed "Pan Wolodyjowski," then you will probably love "Czarne Chmury." By and large, the costumes and effects are comparable or slightly better than "Pan Wolodyjowski." I found the series to be very enjoyable and entertaining, regardless of the weak special effects, due to the age of this 1973 TV-Series. The most prominent distinctions between the two is that "Czarne Chmury" involves Prussia and is considerably longer, running over 500 minutes. If you enjoy historical films filled with adventure, then look no further.


Major Hubal (Hubal) (1973)


Director: Bohdan Poreba;

Hubal takes us back in history to the early part of World War II. It is the courageous story of Polish soldiers that fight despite the overwhelming odds. The movie opens with black and white news footage with an announcer that says even if the odds are against Poland they will take some of the enemy down with them. This statement foretells the fate of Major Hubal and is the theme of the film.

Within a month of the outbreak of the war much of Poland was devastated; its army crushed and scattered. This story shows us the exploits of the soldiers under Major Hubal who refuse to quit even though they fight against an overwhelming adversary. In the months that follow, they struggle to keep hidden and ambush the Germans at every opportunity they have. Hubal's exploits give hope to the people and he has a line of recruits that want to join them in every village (they even recruit a young woman and a priest).

Hubal is a heroic war story that captures the patriotic spirit of Poland. Each month for them is a hard, up-hill struggle but they fight on. If you are into older war films, Hubal delivers action and heroics that keep the suspense tense and provides great entertainment.


The Peasants (Chlopi) (1973)


Director: Jan Rybkowski;

The Peasants (Chlopi) is based on the noble prize winning Polish novel written by Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont. Both the book and the film are well known and considered classics in Poland. The story is full of drama and has stood the test of time.

The story is revolves around the conflicts between a father and his son. They argue over land and a woman. The son wants to take over the farm while his father wants to remain in control of it. Both of them are suborn and equally have their own faults.

But one could equally say that the story is about the woman they both lust after named Jagna. Jagna is a pretty blond woman that slept with at least half the men in the village. The women in the village laugh and deride her while the men seek her out as the "other" women. Over time, the town grows to despise Jagna because her actions cause troubles for them.

Some parts of the movie were no doubt typical events in village life. We get a good look at folk customs, clothing and country life. We even see a couple of scenes of mob rule. I found the film to get more captivating as the story progressed.

I would consider the story to be an epic as it tells us the story over time and runs 166 minutes. The Peasants is a film you must see if you enjoyed other classic Polish films such as Krzyzacy, Potop and Nad Niemnen. Chlopi is one you must get to complete your collection of classic Polish films.


The Cradle (Gniazdo) (1974)


Director: Jan Rybkowski ;

The Cradle (Gniazdo) is movie about Mieszko I, the first historic ruler of Poland. Because there are a lot of details to take in, I would say The Cradle is a film in which one has to pay attention to the fine points in order to understand everything that is going on (or watch it more than once). Although the various groups might look similar, taking note of the helmets may help distinguish them. The story has a few layers to it with flashbacks to earlier times that fill us in on the events that precede the present.

The film begins just before the decisive Battle of Cedyna in 972. In a feavored state, Mieszko is tormented by guilt in not keeping his word to his father. His father wanted Mieszko's brother to rule and aviod contact with the West, thinking it was safer to keep secluded. Ignoring his father's wish, Mieszko expanded his land to the shore from the Oder to the Wisla once he became ruler. A witch advises Mieszko to convice his father's spirit of his intentions in order to win the battle.

As Mieszko reflects on his life, we see fashbacks of his past which help us understand him and how he got to the point he is now. This includes the events that led up to Mieszko's baptizm in 966, which Christianized his land. His motivation to convert may not have been spiritual but political as many of his neighbors were Christian.

Although I wouldn't consider The Cradle an epic, Mieszko's life is colorful enough to easly make one recounting it. Films such as this one are great because they allow one to get familiar with history even though some of the details may not be quite right. I would recommend The Cradle for those who enjoy history.


It's Spring, Sergeant (Wiosna, Panie Sierzancie) (1974)


Director: Tadeusz Chmielewski;

"It's Spring, Sergeant" (Wiosna, Panie Sierzancie) is a great comedy about a quaint town and it's police sergeant. Sergeant Wladyslaw Lichniak (J㺀 Nowak) goes out of his way to help the people in his town. He cheers the birth of every child, as it adds another citizen to his town, and is saddened every time someone moves out of it. The feeling is mutual as the townspeople adore him and seek his advice. The people also go out of their way to help him. The relationship between the sergeant and the townspeople is unique and often very funny.

In a way, I consider "It's Spring, Sergeant" an unwilling romance because the sergeant falls in love reluctantly. A much younger woman peruses him for some time and he gives in eventually. She has a boyfriend but her boyfriend's mother doesn't like her so she changes her attention onto the town hero.

Many scenes take place on the waterfront. Although it probably isn't, one could almost get the impression the town is an island because people come and go by the ferry. Some people feel the town is isolated and that a better life awaits them in a bigger city. I would say that an underlining theme in this movie is the idea some have of the grass being greener on the other side.

Tadeusz Chmielewski directs "It's Spring, Sergeant." Chmielewski is best known for directing "Jak Rozpetalem Druga Wojne Swiatowa/How I Unleashed World War II," but has also worked in the film industry as an actor, writer and producer.

"It's Spring, Sergeant" is a mostly lighthearted comedy. The humor doesn't let up and just about every minute is funny. For example, when Sergeant Lichniak is directing traffic, it causes a big mess because the town people are not used to seeing the signals and he isn't used to using them. "It's Spring, Sergeant" also has an element of unpredictability, as one might expect in Polish films, which may give the viewer a surprise or two.


The Deluge (Potop) (1974)


Director: Jerzy Hoffman;

Potop (The Deluge) is the second film directed Jerzy Hoffman depicting the 17th century adventures of Henryk Sienkiewicz's trilogy of novels. This epic history captures the spirit of Polish patriotism at the time when the Swedes scourged the Polish countryside in the 1650s. The story is not entirely straightforward, but has some twists and intrigues.

Daniel Olbrychski plays Kmicic in this film, who gets himself into several touchy situations where doing what seemed right at the time created problems for himself and his reputation. He faces several ethical dilemmas as his actions led to him killing his fellows and his country. As much as he tries to make a good choice, he comes up short. He puts himself in the "line of fire" several times trying to make up for his misdeeds. To me, this was an amazing part of the film as we all try to do well, but do not always make the wisest of decisions. As this theme was repeated several times, it made an impression on me that the film is not just a war story, but has meaningful messages as well, such as our attempt to make the right choices in life.

Kmicic at first seems annoying and even boorish, but as we get to know him, he becomes a very likeable and charming character. The fact that Olbrychski convincingly makes us dislike this character then love him is a reflection of his strong acting skill. Olbrychski plays a different role in all three of Hoffman's movies of the Sienkiewicz trilogy, but this one is the largest, being the lead character.

Potop brings us close and personal into 17th century warfare. Although the battles are gruesome, I have to say the effects and costumes are remarkably well done for this 1974 film. We get to see duels on foot and horseback, the siege of Czestochowa in which the Swedes and the Poles both use cannons to bombard each other, and a large-scale battle in which Tartars then winged-hussars attack a Swedish formation. My favorite has to be all the cannons, so much so that it makes me want to get one. I highly recommend Potop for those that enjoy historic epics. The movie has it all: war, love, and even deeper meanings if we look for them.


Promised Land (Ziemia Obiecana) (1975)


Director: Andrzej Wajda;

"Promised Land" (or "Ziemia Obiecana" in Polish) is a majestic story of three friends who come together to build a factory in Lodz during the 19th century. The friends, a Pole (as played by Daniel Olbrychski), a German, and a Jew, each need each others' resources and skills in making their dreams come true. However, both the German and Jew are advised by others not to deal with their Polish friend, as they believe it will come to no good end. In the 19th century, Poland was not on the map, as its neighbors (Germany, Russia, and Austria) partitioned it amongst themselves. This is the reason why German is occasionally spoken in the film and Rubles, a Russian currency, are mentioned.

The Polish man is a nobleman, but he cares little for his heritage or tradition. His thirst for wealth will put a strain on the friendship of the trio and a love affair he has with the wife of a wealthy Jew will cause them all more problems than they would ever expect.

In general, the businessmen of the time are corrupt, the workers are abused, and the story that unfolds is tragic. The film itself is beautiful. With haunting and dramatic music, this colorful time in history is interestingly portrayed. The factories are grim and stark, which contrasts with the splendid palaces where the wealthy live. "Promised Land" gives us a glimpse into the past and a chance to witness the poverty of the many and the wealth of the few.

"Promised Land," directed by Andrzej Wajda, is an exceptional film of the type that has earned him world fame. This new director's cut of this 1974 film is 138 minutes in length. "Promised Land" is spoken in Polish, with parts in other languages. This film has optional English subtitles. At times the film is gory and often tragic, but entirely a captivating story, worth watching.


Nights and Days (Noce i Dni) (1975)

Director: Jerzy Antczak;

"Noce i Dnie" (Nights and Days) is a long historic epic based on a novel. The movie runs over four hours and contains the family problems and drama one would expect in a soap opera. The events in the film span decades of time - from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

The story is presented as the reflections of an elderly woman. As the chaos of World War I affects her life, she thinks back to how she lived. We are kept enthralled by what she lived though. Her life and the time she lived in were eventful; to name a few, she married a man she didn't love, many of her close relatives died and bringing up her children had its share of troubles.

It is fascinating to watch her mature as a person. As a younger woman, she complained and nagged to her husband about everything. With time, she slowly becomes more mature and sensible. Although she makes her share of mistakes, we slowly get to like her as the film progresses.

"Noce i Dnie" is perfect for those who enjoy historic epics with romance and drama. This classic in Polish cinema is family friendly as well. Its colorful characters and soothing music are memorable and sure to entertain.


Leper (Tredowata) (1976)


Director: Jerzy Hoffman;

Jerzy Hoffman may be best known for his With Fire and Sword (Ogniem i Mieczem) but his earlier films are just as brilliant. In 1976, two years after his historical epic Potop, Hoffman made Leper (Tredowata). Leper is a romantic drama about forbidden love set in the late 1800s.

Stefcia Rudecka works for a wealthy noble family. She is the personal instructor for Lucia, who lives with her mother and grandfather. Waldemar, the girl's older cousin, comes by to visit and is captivated by Stefcia. Stefcia resists his advances in the beginning but he slowly wears her guard down. Stefcia is cautious for good reason as she feels she wouldn't fit into his world.

Waldemar's family strongly resists his choice in a bride. Generations of family traditions are a force he must contend with as he tries to woo Stefcia. The dazzling manor houses and elaborate gardens are spellbinding and bring us into a world where maintaining one's class is a strong force, rivaling the power of love.

Leper captures strong emotions; Stefcia doesn't want to be made a fool yet her fears quickly greet her. The nobles she meets are cruel snobs and dismiss her into the status of a "leper." The emotions are only intensified by the powerful music by Wojciech Kilar (who I find to be one of the best modern composers). If you enjoyed Hoffman's historical films and are curious to see what else he made, you have to check out Leper.


Death of the President (Smierc Prezydenta) (1978)


Director: Jerzy Kawalerowicz;

With the end of World War I, Poland was placed back on the map after being partitioned for 123 years by its neighbors. With Poland's rebirth, there was a lot of excitement and tension with the direction the government will take and who would lead the country. The title of Death of the President (Smierc Prezydenta) gives away what will happen, but how it happens and builds up makes it suspenseful.

The movie goes back and forth between the events leading up to the assassination of Gabriel Narutowicz and the trail of the assassin Eligiusz Niewiadomski. We see the whole hubbub in the presidential selection, in which there were five rounds of voting before a candidate won. Once Narutowicz was selected, there was an outcry because he didn't have the support of the conservatives and was considered a radical. The newly selected president is put in a hard place because he has little support, even from those who selected him.

While most of the film focuses on the events leading up to the assassination, Niewiadomski's speech in court adds a lot to the story. He is eloquent with his words and gives a forceful speech. Marek Walczewski truly did outstanding in acting the infamous role of Eligiusz Niewiadomski.

For the most part, Smierc Prezydenta portrays the events without bias. The events were complicated and the film attempts to show us the issues that were at hand in the election. I do think there are two small pro-communist propaganda parts that were thrown in to please the censors or perhaps a refection of the director's own feelings. I do not think these two parts take away or distract from the overall film and it was common for Polish films of the Communist era to have a pro-communist reference tacked on somewhere.

Jozef Pilsudski is portrayed in the movie slightly negatively. This was surprising to me because most of the time he is heaped praise and considered a hero. Of course, Pilsudski gave the Russians a hard time in 1919-21 Polish-Soviet War and was disliked by Communist Russia. All in all, it is not a blatantly negative portrayal and the film probably made a good attempt to be fair.

Smierc Prezydenta is directed by the late Jerzy Kawalerowicz. Of the half-dozen films I have watched by Kawalerowicz, all have been a pleasure and none disappointed me. He is a very talented director and his work is worth getting to know.

Smierc Prezydenta is great for those who would like to learn more about Polish history in an entertaining way. It is a great political drama that recreates history and captures the feeling of the time.


Operation Arsenal (Akcja Pod Arsenalem) (1978)


Director: Jan Lomnicki;

Jan Lomnickis Operation Arsenal (Akcja Pod Arsenalem) is an action movie about a group of men in the Polish underground army that fight the Nazis during World War II. The film brings us right into this terrifying time. We feel the helplessness they experience as the Nazis have control of virtually everything in Warsaw. The Germans impose a curfew at night, they enter homes and take away anyone they dont like, and beat anyone they please. Life isnt easy but some brave people stand up to these oppressors.

In Operation Arsenal, we see how the Polish underground army undertakes a mission to free a truck carrying prisoners, which included some of their own men. The odds are stacked against them but that only makes it more suspenseful. Operation Arsenal has good action and the story doesnt waste any time so this movie is great entertainment.

The deeds of the Polish underground army are heroic and often have a symbolic meaning. With tricks and daringness they fight back against the overwhelming odds. Their actions are a constant irritation to the Nazis. Although their actions dont necessarily win the war, they do frustrate the Germans and provide hope to the occupied people.


Horizontal Landscape (Pejzaz Horyzontalny) (1978)


Director: Janusz Kidawa;

"Horizontal Landscape" (Pejzaz Horyzontalny) is an entertaining coming of age Polish film from the late 1970s. It has a cast of characters that are believable and likeable. Just as the name of the movie is about the changes that a landscape can take as a forest can be turned into a building made of cement and steel, the people behind it can transform just as fast.

The three young men in their 20s meet on their first day at work and end up moving in together in an apartment. They all came to work for their own reasons: Student, who is a bit on the emotional side and ends up meeting his girl friend at the store; Curley is a bit of a wise guy and ran out of his wife because she nagged him too much; and Tytus, who often wears a straw hat and sings songs while strumming on his autistic guitar. The three don't get along right away and occasionally argue but they end up becoming great friends.

They all work on a construction job together and their work brings them together. Their manager watches them from a tower nicknamed Olympia, thinking of himself as a sort of god. He observes his workers with a telescope and commands them with a loud speaker. Although he helps them at times, he also causes them some problems. They all work together and grow up together too as they face their challenges.

"Horizontal Landscape" is a great story about friendship and becoming an adult. They get into trouble on occasion but pull together to help each other out and can be pretty funny at times too. One of the most appealing parts of this film is that their interactions really pull you in and make you want to watch their drama.


What Will You Do When You Catch Me? (Co Mi Zrobisz Jak Mnie Zlapiesz) (1978)


Director: Stanislaw Bareja;

"Co Mi Zrobisz, Jak Mnie Zlapiesz?," directed by Stanislaw Bareja, is an entertaining comedy with a crazy story. Director Tadeusz Krzakoski (as played by Krzysztof Kowalewski) believes he impregnated an important woman. Being a responsible man he decided he has to marry the woman so child would have a father. The only problem is Tadeusz is already married. To facilitate his future divorce case he hires a photographer to catch his wife cheating on him. To ensure he has a case he tries to hire people for his wife to cheat with. Overall, there are many comical scenes in this film.

There are a several comical scenes in the film which aren't directly related to the main theme of the film. An example is when dump trucks are taking away soil from a depot a man inspects the soil with a long metal pole. He is looking to see if the driver is trying to remove something besides the soil. Finding a single brick, he orders the truck to go back and empty its load.

"Co Mi Zrobisz, Jak Mnie Zlapiesz?" shares similarities to Stanislaw Bareja's "Mis". It has a lot of screwball comedy and pokes fun at some of the situations that existed in Poland during the 1970s. For example, people waiting several days to buy furniture or withdraw money from a bank; a glass cup in the cafeteria is chained down so no one will take it. In addition, both films have some of the same actors, themes, and a similar overall feeling. This 1978 film may have helped pave the way for his 1981 movie "Mis."


Enigma Secret (Sekret Enigmy) (1979)


Director: Roman Wionczek;

"Enigma Secret" (Sekret Enigmy) takes us into the history and shows the adventures of a few Polish men whose story is not widely known. The Polish government enlisted its best civilian thinkers to help decode German messages. These mathematicians turn into war heroes as they decode the secret of the enigma.

This is a bit different war film. It lacks scenes of battles but is filled with espionage and a great deal of suspense because of the precarious time period. The story doesn't revolve around professional soldiers but of civilians that turn into cryptologists and help in the war. It stays away from the gritty details of the battlefields but shows us how the families were separated and torn apart, as everyone was affected by the war. "Enigma Secret" brings to life this time period and fills the two and a half hour film with a remarkable story.

The story is a chilling chronicle of World War II - from before it began to its tail end. Some parts of the movie will be unforgettable. I thought there is great build up in the impending doom just before the war breaks out. Their escape to France via Hungry will keep you on edge. Being just a few steps ahead of the Germans isn't an easy task and, unfortunately, their allies don't always help them. Overall, the way the story is presented doesn't show too much violence so it is one you can watch with the whole family.


Young Girls of Wilko (Panny Z Wilka) (1979)


Director: Andrzej Wajda;

After 15 years of being away, Wiktor (as played by Daniel Olbrychski) returns to visit his aunt and uncle at the advice of a doctor to get away for a while and recover from the loss of the death of his best friend. Nearby, in a gorgeous manor house, live five sisters whose lives were always filled with talking about Wiktor. Wiktor's return rekindles the love four of the sisters had for him. Despite the 15 years apart, Wiktor becomes the focal point of discussions of the maids of Wilko once more.

Wiktor is interested in all of the sisters, but is cowardly and indecisive, and therefore cannot make a decision on which one to pursue. The four sisters are lead on occasionally, but each is crushed when Wiktor gives another sister attention. Out of naivete Wiktor does not seem to realize how much they all care for him and out of fear does not know how to respond when they tell him of their interest in him.

The film is a peaceful one with little action, but one that touches your emotions. In this 111-minute film, the viewers are given a glimpse into the past, and how a man regrets the mistakes of his youth and how his inaction left four women longing for him.

"Young Girls of Wilko" (or "Panny Z Wilka" in Polish) is based on a novel, whose author appears in the film as the old man who watches from time to time. The story is enchanting and filled with artistic beauty. Overall, this 1979 film, directed by Andrzej Wajda, is definitely one any culture seeking viewer should see.


Hospital of the Transfiguration (Szpital przemienienia) (1979)


Director: Edward Zebrowski;

Szpital Przemienienia (Hospital of the Transfiguration) is a drama about a mental hospital. The story is unusual in that it takes place in Poland during World War II. The hospital is in a peaceful setting but the looming danger is always present as it is just a matter of time before the Nazis come. The movie is captivating because it has a good story that pulls you into the world it presents.

The story revolves around a young doctor (Piotr Dejmek) who just finished his studies and arrives at the asylum. He is ambitious and wants to learn more. But he is also disgusted at the lack of real treatment the patients receive. He sees beyond the farce of psychiatric treatments. The "treatments" include hydrotherapy, electric shock therapy, insulin shock therapy and even brain surgery; but none have results to brag about. Those patients lucky enough to avoid these treatments are drugged into a stupor so that they may be more docile.

Although most of the patients volunteer to go to this hospital, they are treated like animals. The doctors are weird in their own way too, making the viewer wonder who is odder -- those in charge or those imprisoned? The way the psychiatrists treat the patients and the way the Nazis treat the Poles is not too much different. Although it may not be intentional, the movie nicely points out how there is little difference between psychiatry and Nazi ideology.

Szpital Przemienienia has an array of patients, some of which are greatly talented, such as the composer Jakub (Piotr Szulkin) and writer Zygmunt Sekulowski (Gustaw Holoubek). Their genius ability is recognized by the doctors and makes Szpital Przemienienia an interesting place. Their fate should not be too much of a surprise but I found it suspenseful nonetheless.


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