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As a foreigner living in Poland for a significant amount of time, this documentary gave me a lot. There are so many bands that I own vinyls of but with whom I have never really connected. The music is eighties rock, poorly recorded and not exactly of a standard that the Smiths or the Pixies would have been making at the same time. However, the documentary offers a wonderful context to the quite basic and naive music that was made in Poland throughout the later years of communism which provided the soundtrack to Solidarnosc and the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Seeing the fight that bands like Perfect and Maanam put up just to make their music and influence a youth movement starved of freedom and outside influence gave me a new context in which to listen to the albums and hear the vitality within and vital nature of their existence.
The fervour of fans at concerts, the footage from the streets and the battle just to create music brought home the fact that, whilst music in America and England at the time was light years ahead, the music being created in Poland was more visceral and more socially important than even the most polished of output from Western bands. These elements also added an excitement, drive and watchable edge to what could have been quite a stale documentary if it had just been talking heads and old war stories.
For me, the only downside was that the length limited the content. I could easily have watched another half and hour and would have loved to learn more about: - the influence of foreign music on Polish music, especially stuff like Radio Free Europe. - some specific text from songs and what the message was. - a few interviews with music fans from the time telling the story of things like the Jarocin festival from their point of view, and, - what happened next? The documentary ends quite abruptly with the end of Russian control. Whilst this is a quite logical ending, it would have been good to see a little of where Polish music has gone between 1990 and the documentary being made in 2010.
There is certainly a homogenisation of world culture in Poland (as in most countries) and we now have more Britney and Beyonce than we do Poland's own creators. Polish music and films, once the spearhead of mainstream anti-oppression culture, are now out of the mainstream as Western culture has sent them underground. It would have been nice to see a little about the current situation and what may happen next.
All in all, though, my low score of 6 and my wishes for more content are not an indictment on the film itself, which was a pleasure, but rather on the the length. It was fun, informative and offered a new perspective for anyone who may not know the significance of the bands featured - I just would have loved an extra half an hour or so to get even more from it :)
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