“Watch them closely, for these are the last hours of their lives,” announces a narrator, foretelling the tragedy that unfolds as a war-ravaged company of Home Army resistance fighters tries to escape the Nazi onslaught through the sewers of Warsaw. Determined to survive, the men and women slog through the hellish labyrinth, piercing the darkness with the strength of their individual spirits. Based on true events, Kanal was the first film ever made about the Warsaw Uprising and brought director Andrzej Wajda to the attention of international audiences, earning the Special Jury Prize in Cannes in 1957.
Tag Archives: polish
A devout Catholic peasant girl is corrupted by two new friends when her family moves to the city. An allegory of traditional Polish values under threat from materialism and decadence in the post-Communist era.
Pociag / Night Train (1959) Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Lucyna Winnicka, Leon Niemczyk, Teresa Szmigielówna, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Two strangers, Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk) and Marta (Lucyna Winnicka), accidentally end up holding tickets for the same sleeping chamber on an overnight train to the Baltic Sea coast. While handsome, well dressed and rather laconic, Jerzy seems ill at ease, while Marta is not talkative and would prefer to be alone. Staszek (Zbigniew Cybulski) is a student and Marta’s spurned lover, and will not leave her alone. When the police enter the train in search of a murderer on the lam, rumors fly and everything seems to point toward one of the main characters as the culprit.
Krótki film o milosci / A Short Film About Love (1988) Krzysztof Kieslowski, Grazyna Szapolowska, Olaf Lubaszenko, Stefania Iwinska, Drama, Romance
An obscured thief breaks into a school gymnasium at night to steal a portable telescope from the science lab. On the following morning, the thief, Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko) sets up the telescope on his desk, facing the window of his room, and across the courtyard into an adjacent apartment. Later in the day, an attractive, hurried woman named Magda (Grazyna Szapolowska) stops by the post office in order to claim a money order after receiving a notification in her mailbox, only to be informed by the attentive young postal clerk, Tomek, that there is nothing being held at the station on her behalf. Back home, Tomek sets his alarm clock to 8:00 pm, the approximate time of Magda’s return home.
Krótki film o zabijaniu / A Short Film About Killing (1988) Krzysztof Kieslowski, Miroslaw Baka, Krzysztof Globisz, Jan Tesarz, Crime, Drama
Death from the very beginning – a rat decomposing in the water, a cat hanging from a railing as giggling children run off. In Krzysztof Kieslowski’s expansion of the Decalogue: Five segment (“Thou shalt not kill”), the commandment bounds individual and governmental killing into one object of anguished contemplation.
Walkower / Walkover (1965) Jerzy Skolimowski, Aleksandra Zawieruszanka, Krzysztof Chamiec, Drama, Sport
Jerzy Skolimowski’s second feature (and first full-length narrative) cemented his status as a one-man Polish New Wave, with the rhythms of his films influenced as much by jazz and (his own) poetry as by more conventional storytelling. Skolimowski himself plays a dropout-turned-amateur boxer who’s distracted from his bouts when Teresa (Aleksandra Zawieruszanka), an old university friend, re-enters his life.
Dekalog / The Decalogue (1989-1990) Krzysztof Kieslowski, Artur Barcis, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Olaf Lubaszenko, Drama
The Ten Commandments, exact and uncompromising, literally cast in stone, continues to provide a source of moral conflict in contemporary society. In the ten part epic masterpiece, Decalogue, Krzysztof Kieslowski examines the dilemma of fundamental sin in the lives of ordinary Warsaw citizens.
Ostatni dzien lata / The Last Day of Summer (1958) Tadeusz Konwicki, Irena Laskowska, Jan Machulski, Drama, Romance
There is something vaguely mythical to the manner in which Konwicki introduces his characters, both to us and to each other, lapped as much by the ethereal eeriness of the score as by the seaside winds that send their hair aflutter. When they tend to speak to each other in whispers, it seems almost out of respect for the otherworldly aura of their locale, as though it is to their eyes as improbably beautiful as Konwicki’s camera renders it to us. They—referred to in the credits only as “He” and “She”, mysterious and mythical in themselves—do not whisper much; there’s a clear silent heritage at work here, conferring meaning to the motion of faces and the movement of the camera along this spectral shore.
Na srebrnym globie / On the Silver Globe (1988) Andrzej Zulawski, Andrzej Seweryn, Jerzy Trela, Grazyna Dylag, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
A small group of cosmic explorers, including a woman, leaves Earth to find freedom and start a new civilization. They do not realize that within themselves they carry the end of their own dream. They eventually die one by one, while their children revert to a primitive native culture, creating new myths and a new god. Some time later, a space bureaucrat, running from a broken heart, arrives and finds the colonizer’s descendants enslaved by bird-monsters called Cherns. Society is divided into numerous classes, and everyone is waiting for the arrival of a messiah. The newcomer is considered a suitable candidate, and for some time he lives as a god. In the end he is crucified by his people.
Austeria / The Inn (1982) Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Franciszek Pieczka, Wojciech Pszoniak, Jan Szurmiej, Drama, War
Austeria takes place during the opening days of World War I, in the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia. Tag (Franciszek Pieczka) is a Jewish innkeeper whose inn (austeria means inn in the local Polish dialect) is located near the border with Russia. War has broken out and local civilians are fleeing the advancing Russian Army, and several groups of refugees have taken shelter in Tag’s inn for the night. A group of Hassidic jews from the neighboring village arrive, followed by an Austrian baroness on and a Hungarian hussar cut off from his unit…