Polish Cinema

Mother Joan of the Angels, 1961

A gaunt, weary priest named Father Joseph Suryn (Mieczyslaw Voit) arrives at a quaint village inn to rest for the evening, eating his scant portion of bread alongside a bawdy, drunken patron named Wolodkowicz (Zygmunt Zintel) who is quick to ridicule his asceticism. The voluptuous barmaid, Adwosia (Maria Chwalibóg), goaded by Wolodkowicz into foretelling the… read more »

Night Train, 1959

Night Train opens to the eerie sound of a soulful and atmospheric vocal melody against an acute overhead shot of a busy train station. On an overnight train bound for a seaside resort, an agitated man named Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk), oddly obscured behind a pair of sunglasses, approaches the conductor (Helena Dàbrowska) to explain that… read more »

Man on the Tracks, 1957

At dusk, the impressive sight of a steam engine passenger train bisects the horizon, traversing an empty stretch of track under construction near a rural train station. The train engineer Zapora (Zygmunt Listkiewicz) and his junior assistant Nowak (Roman Klosowski) perform a station check of the semaphores and, upon seeing only one light on, proceeds… read more »

Eroica, 1957

Prefaced as a heroic symphony in two parts, Eroica is a darkly comic, intelligent, and unorthodox chronicle of the Polish resistance against the Germans in World War II, a movement commonly referred to as the Warsaw Uprising. The first movement, Scherzo alla polacca, opens to a shot of an apprehensive and reluctant militia soldier named… read more »

Sweet Rush, 2009

Part coming of age story set in the aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising, and part personal testament by lead actress Krystyna Janda on her husband, Edward Klosinski’s battle with cancer during filming, Andrzej Wajda’s poignant, if disarticulated Sweet Rush, on the surface, suggests kinship with the metacinema of Abbas Kiarostami in exploring the interpenetration between… read more »

Without Anesthesia, 1979

A successful international journalist, Jerzy Michalowski (Zbigniew Zapasiewicz), makes a guest appearance on a televised variety show to reflect on his life and work. Candid and self-assured, Jerzy’s evasive comments on the limited freedom of the Polish press on domestic issues causes concern to a programming official who believes that the serious topics discussed in… read more »

Man of Marble, 1977

Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda) is a determined and tenacious film student who believes that she has found the ideal subject for her diploma film: an investigative documentary on Mateusz Birkut (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), a postwar working-class hero who fell into government disfavor and disappeared into obscurity. Her producer (Boguslaw Sobczuk) reluctantly agrees to give her 21 days… read more »

The Promised Land, 1975

An introductory shot of a solemn, aging German aristocrat named Bucholz (Andrzej Szalawski) gazing abstractedly out the window of his opulently furnished, baroque estate in morning prayer that is intercut with cutaway images of workers emerging from crude shantytowns built alongside the railroad tracks establishes the polarized economic climate of late nineteenth century Lodz, as… read more »

Landscape After the Battle, 1970

Landscape After the Battle opens to the narratively silent symphony of a concentration camp liberation, as haggard yet jubilant prisoners run out into the snow-covered open field, break the windows of the internment barracks, impulsively undress and toss their degrading uniforms onto a blazing bonfire, and rejoice at the arrival of the Allied soldiers. A… read more »

Life as a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease, 2000

In early 12th century France, a horse thief is captured in the outskirts of a peasant village and brought to the attention of a passing monk in order to receive absolution before being hanged for his crime. Momentarily released from his binding in order to pray, the thief seizes the opportunity to flee from the… read more »