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Pan Tadeusz had a huge impact on Polish audience this year. The film, which
was made on a three-million dollar budget, beat all records of popularity
Poland. On the first weekend 420,000 Poles saw the movie. By mid-November
more than three million Poles watched Pan Tadeusz in the 130 movie theaters
We can expect high popularity level in Lithuania, and, maybe, to some extent in Belarus. But otherwise, the movie will be overlooked and probably discarded by the people who are not familiar with the history of the region, namely, with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the union with Recz Pospolita (The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth).
For Poles, Lithuanians, Belarusians this is a movie that brings back poignant nostalgia for the glorious past of the Duchy. For everyone else, it is just another historical ballad, based on the classical poem of Adam Mickiewicz.
The director, Andrzej Wajda, did a wonderful job -- the casting seems almost perfect, the whole organization is very nice, the acting is powerful. Some Polish movie critics predict that the film is going to be nominated for Oscar, but as far as it looks now, it is going to be huge -- but only on a regional scale.
Andrzej Wajda has taken a masterpiece in one genre (poetry) and not
only done justice to it but created a masterpiece in another genre
(film), one which did not even exist when Mickiewicz wrote the poem 166
The actors are mainly well-known faces in Polish cinema and yet all rise above the stereotypical images many of the audience have of them. The greatest example of this is Boguslaw Linda as Robak the Priest. In the most moving scene in the film he gives the performance of his life.
The harmonious blend of Wajda's direction and Wojciech Kilar's score is a sensual feast. It is a film which impresses a profound sense of beauty to such an extent that one could appreciate the sheer art of the film without even having to understand the language (I cannot vouch for the quality of the sub-titles in English as I saw it in its original version).
If you only see one foreign language film this year, make sure it is this one.
This film is based on the masterpiece "Pan Tadeusz" written by Adam
Mickiewicz, a famous Polish poet in 1830. Adam Mickiewicz was born in
Lithuania in 1798. At the time Lithuania and Poland were connected in a
political union and many Polish families lived in Lithuania.
Mickiewicz felt as a real Pole. This film is about the Polish nobilty in Soblicowo how they lead their normal lives - they party, hunt , go mushroom picking and fight with their neigbours. But everyone is waiting for Napolean, the French leader to liberate and save Poland. The director of this movie is famous Polish director. He is found in the imdb with more than 30 films of his career.
One of the most beloved literary works in the history of Polish History, "Pan Tadeusz" was never adapted to the screen before. The cinematography of this film is marvelously done. It demonstrates the beautiful fields of Lithuania, with its natural pictures.
The greatest part of the film was played by Daniel Olbrychski. He showed real emotion and a true actor. He is also a known actor in Europe, starring in films, in Poland, France and Russia.
I encourage everyone to see this film to learn some history and have some fun!
Adam Mickiewicz is not only a Polish treasure. Thanks to Russian genial poet Alexander Pushkin, he became known in my homeland as well. What he wrote appealed to all the people. Such themes as home, Motherland, love, loyalty, bravery, war and peace are clear and true to all of us, be we Russian, Polish, American or Jewish. Andrzej Wajda has managed to fix this masterful poem, Pan Tadeusz, telling about the Napoleonic war times and the conflict between Polish who supported Buanaparte and Russians who fought him. Love story is another theme here and thus the Poet interwove all those in his intricate poem while the Movie Maker brought it all on to the screen. And it worked! When you hear those impeccable poetic lines spoken by the whole constellation of Polish actors - such as Boguslaw Linda, Marek Kondrat, Andrzej Seweryn - plus a great Russian film star Serhey Shakurov - you cannot but feel an immense pleasure. This is a very aesthetically beautiful movie, rich in costumes and in nature. Highly recommended for all who love poetry and excellently cut films.
Although I am Polish by extraction, I had never read or been told the
of this great, early 19th century Polish classic poem. To my delight the
tale of rustic Lithuania, at the time of
Napoleon is exciting, warm, tender and just sweeps you off your
The dialogue is drawn directly from the poem so it is in rhyming couplets. The acting styles and set design marvelously match the romantic, expressive language. The poem was published in 1834 and Adam Miczkiewicz was, I understand, influenced by Walter Scott. The English subtitles fail the film badly. They should have taken the risk of using a translation in a similar style. Unfortunately, for a non-Polish speaking person, I expect it is like watching Shakespeare translated into the language of the evening news. It looks terrific but a lot of the richness is missed.
I don't blame any non-Polish viewers for being confused or simply
bored. Not at all. At the moment I'm even trying to imagine how it
feels watching this picture without being able to refer anytime to the
knowledge of the book and the cultural background. I guess it makes you
feel lost and empty-headed.
First of all, the screen play was created in a very unusual way. The dialogs were not written, but extracted from the poem, some of them being full rhyming lines and some only parts. Of course most of the meaningful and informative pieces were in the narrative section of the poem and somehow didn't make it to the screen. I'm all for "show not tell", but "don't show, don't tell, everybody knows it all from school" is not the top shelf of movie-making to me.
All that is shown is pretty people, pretty costumes, pretty interiors, pretty nature. Definitely pleasant to see for anyone who likes pictures with historical settings and would like to get to know something about the life in a particular time and place.
The movie really works only for people who have read the poem and have been taught about its historical background. After such preparation they can enjoy this multimedia reconstruction of the characters and places from the book, because that's rather what it is to me. Indeed, all the actors are good, music memorable and all the details nicely done, but this production really lacks the cinematic backbone and something that would allow it to be a movie on its own.
In the modern times absorbed so much by computers, technology,
materialism, it seems that such values like love, patriotism, sense of
beauty and quest for the sublime belong to the days of yore, the days
of fairies, poets and nobles. Yet, on such occasions like national
holidays that usually serve to remind nations of their identities,
human thoughts go towards our ancestors, those who created a nation,
played a decisive role in what we are and who we are now. And in this
very spirit, on November the 11th when my country celebrates the
Independence Day, my friends and I have decided to see the significant
movie by Andrzej Wajda. It is worth stating here that the film, the
action of which takes place in 1811 and 1812, 16 years after Poland was
entirely partitioned among Germany, Austria and Russia, is based on the
key work of Polish literature --- 12 Books of Verse titled PAN TADEUSZ
and written in Paris in the 1830s by the famous Pole Adam Mickiewicz
The goals of watching being purely patriotic, the movie appeared to us as convincing, more to say, interesting from the very beginning. However, the experience of the movie was not merely a patriotic awareness that would truly be applied to a limited number of viewers but something much more, something I would like to share with other people no matter what nationality, upbringing, culture they are - a treasure that seems lost in most modern movies yet found in the great effort to craft cinematic productions based on classical literature. Certainly, it is a serious effort to adapt 1800s' romantic verses to the expectations of modern movie buffs...
"O Lithuania, my country, thou Art
like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee."
(translation by Kenneth R. Mackenzie)
That is how PAN TADEUSZ by Adam Mickiewicz begins, that is how PAN TADEUSZ by Andrzej Wajda ends and what is in between?
A great story of courage, love, sensation, uprising, honor, politics (in the times of Napoleon - a great hope for the partitioned Poland), confession and ... reconciliation: something classical, universal, touching, humane, pure and upright. One could indeed enumerate such adjectives... How does it work in practice? On the one hand, we have a particular focus on national identity and duty while, on the other hand, the emphasis is drawn upon particular characters. To view comes young Tadeusz Soplica (Michal Zebrowski) in love with two female characters: one is Zosia (Alicja Bachleda) a 14-year-old girl of youthful, innocent joys; the other is Telimena (Grazyna Szapolowska) - a lady of extravagant behavior and tastes of luxury. In between come various characters, including impetuous Gerwazy (Daniel Olbrychski), young count-artist Horeszko (Marek Kondrat), and a humble priest Robak (Boguslaw Linda) who hides his secret till the very last hour of his life ...
The factor that goes with characters and, more specifically, the manner we perceive them is the strongest point of the movie: performances. Although the task to play the roles and say their lines in poem appears to be particularly difficult, most of the cast craft their performances with exceptional flair. It is thanks to them that we all may feel the story go on naturally. Daniel Olbrychski is magnificent as Gerwazy focusing on the aforementioned impetuosity, Boguslaw Linda can be referred to as 'convincing modesty', Ms Szapolowska says her lines with desirable elegance and Michal Zebrowski together with youthful Alicja Bachleda are a fine staff for the couple in love.
Since Mickiewicz payed particular attention to the descriptions of nature, the film does not skip this aspect. It can boast wonderful shots of the green fields, memorable clouds, returning storks, silent forests and beautiful sunsets. Being filmed in an artistic manner, it evokes a unique atmosphere and constitutes a sort of moving painting of idyllic landscapes. The narration by Adam Mickiewicz portrayed by Krzysztof Kolberger adds more importance to it providing the emotions of the author. The brilliant direction by Andrzej Wajda and the musical score by Wojciech Kilar supply a viewer with undeniable experience. Moreover, some scenes remain so intensely in the memory that any sensitive viewer (sensitive to art) will truly be absorbed by watching. Here, I would like to mention famous bear hunting, confession of Jacek Soplica and witty but elegant coffee making sequence. Just a pity there is not a famous mushroom picking tour described widely by Mickiewicz.
If you asked me what this movie means to me, my answer would be simple: an experience for eyes and soul, great cinema which returns after a period of absence, which returns like the upright storks that long for the sublimity of patriot's homeland.
The best movie I seen in a long time. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts
Sciences should have made this movie a nominee for the FOREIGN LANGUAGE
category at the 2000 Oscar's (I think the Academy is biased against such
true works of art and history). This movie above all others should have
nominated, what is wrong with the Academy?
Excellent movie! Wajda has done an excellent job. Wajda is indeed the world's greatest movie director. Congratulations to Wajda on the Oscar you deserve it more than anyone else.
I have just come home from seeing this film in Amsterdam, which was the
West-European premiere (12 dec. '99). I did not read anything about this
film, or comments that other spectators made. So this is a
direct-from-the-heart comment on the 'naked' movie.
I am truly sorry to say - and this will probably hurt many Polish spectators - that I think that as a film, 'Pan Tadeusz' has some important failures. Not being Polish, I do not have an automatic sympathy for Polish films in general, or for films about Polish history or about Polish literary works. I believe that for non-Polish audiences - or even for Polish non-literary-educated audiences - the film is hard to digest - if digestible at all. Besides, even my Polish friends were quite disappointed, and I think I understand why.
The first hour of the film is particularly hard to follow. Lots of names, situations, storylines without any explanation; a language that is archaic if not swollen, and characters that are neither introduced nor stay on the screen long enough to become interesting (with the obvious exception of Gervazy, although the man does not need to scream so much all the time if you ask me).
During the second hour I got some clue about what was going on, particularly when it came to the fighting scenes (no, I am not fond of fighting scenes, but at least I know what they are about) and with the help of my Polish company who gave some explanations. It is never a good sign if you need other people's explanations to understand a film.
The ending of the film got me back to the more chaotic circumstances of the beginning, but it included a rather forced attempt to solve the 'plot' and then again left us with an open ending which did not interest me.
In all, I think that in the transition from the poem 'Pan Tadeusz' to the film 'Pan Tadeusz', Wajda lost the strong points of the 'poem' genre, and failed to include the strong points of the 'film' genre. A 2,5 hour film focuses the spectator more on the storyline than a 20 hour book. The storyline of 'Pan Tadeusz', however, is for non-Polish audiences too thin and too mysterious to comprehend or value.
Fortunately there is one aspect that was enjoyable: the gorgeous cinematography, the great landscapes, the fine camera movements, and the nice colours. Here I could see and recognize what a great cinematographer Wajda is (I never doubted that). I just think that there were some unfortunate premisses at play in the idea of translating the literary work 'Pan Tadeusz' into a movie. At least, it did not work for me.
That's very true: this film's redeeming quality (if any) are the
dialogues, and also narrator's voice-overs, which have been taken
verbatim from "Pan Tadeusz", the Polish 19th century verse epic by Adam
Mickiewicz. Mickiewicz was an excellent poet (one of the strongest in
Polish language, and of decent standing in European literature of 19th
century), and "Pan Tadeusz", written in 1834, is one of his peak works.
The text, written in syllabotonic rhymed verse, is at time funny, at
times touching, but always flowing and vibrant. The epic tells a story
from the lives of Polish lesser gentry in eastern part of the former
Commonwealth of Poland (these parts are now in Lithuania or Byelarus)
in the times of Napoleon's conquests. The plot includes a little bit of
love story, a little bit of war (skirmishes, really), mystery,
intrigue, resistance against Poland's occupiers, scenes of everyday
life - all with a good measure of nostalgia thrown in, as it was
written by Mickiewicz as emigree in Paris, with the patriotic goal to
cheer up (literally, in Polish, "to strengthen the hearts") of other
emigrees and of Poles in the partitioned and non-existing Poland, at
the time shortly after yet another unsuccessful uprising against the
"Pan Tadeusz", the movie, is a costume drama directed by Andrzej Wajda, the Polish director with some notable previous work under his belt. Into this film he brings mainly his experience and routine as filmmaker. The acting, with few exceptions, fails to impress, the actors simply mill around and recite the splendid lines by Mickiewicz. The camera-work is passable, with some nice shots of the beautiful locations. Also scenography and costumes are decent. What stands out is the music by the renowned Wojciech Kilar. But then again, it is standing out against the backdrop of a, frankly, not very exciting movie.
All in all: the most interesting feature of this film is unfortunately lost in translation from rhymed verse in 19th century Polish.
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