The First Polish 3D Feature Film! Poland's winning battle against Soviet Russia as seen through the eyes of two young protagonists, Ola and Jan. She is a Warsaw cabaret dancer, while he is ... See full summary »
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The First Polish 3D Feature Film! Poland's winning battle against Soviet Russia as seen through the eyes of two young protagonists, Ola and Jan. She is a Warsaw cabaret dancer, while he is a cavalry officer and poet who believes in socialist ideals. Written by
More Humane Than Heroic; More Victorious Than Miraculous
1920...Poland, led by its charismatic commander Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, is forced to fight again for its newly regained independence. The enemy occurs to be stronger than most pessimistic anticipations could ever foresee: it is the army of the Bolsheviks driven by furious desire to light the 'flame of world revolution' by robbing, raping, killing and treading on Poland's corpses westwards. Yet, history sometimes proves to be more unpredictable than ever...
A significant period indeed and the crucial battle seen by the great British politician and diplomat, Lord Edgar D'Abernon, as one of eighteen most important battles ever fought in history of mankind. Yet, not long ago, it was merely a dream to see a motion picture about these events a highly unpopular victory silenced by communist historiography. Although there was a silent movie MIRACLE AT THE VISTULA (1921) directed by Richard Boleslavsky (the director later made Hollywood career and worked with Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich), the movie did not stand a test of time. No wonder...what divides us from that film is practically the entire 90 years of cinematic development. As recent years have brought a greater freedom within artistic expressions, we are lucky that it is Jerzy Hoffman who has directed this picture in 3D technology (the first one in Poland) using the most up-to-date language of art and supplying the story with new vividness. Mr Hoffman, a renowned Sienkiewicz director (TRILOGY), proves to know best how to evoke the classical spirit "There is a history in all men's lives" (William Shakespeare) and adapt it to the modern needs of viewers. His direction along with Jaroslaw Sokol's screenplay result in an astounding, majestic spectacle combined with the psychology of real people --- both historical figures and fictitious characters.
However, decades have passed and the young generation may rightly ask a question: what does the ideal of our great great grandparents have to do with us? Hasn't 'Make Love not War' been a more appealing message? What can they say to us?
1920 BATTLE OF WARSAW, in both a traditional and a modern way, combines facts and fiction, duties and emotions, something historical and modern. We see the historic figures, the most eminent being Jozef Pilsudski (Daniel Olbrychski) and Vladimir Lenin (Victor Balabanov) but, in a way, they appear to be the background for the emotional side highlighted throughout. As in most of such stories where war steps in, there is a couple whose love must give in before duty for homeland - the main protagonists Ola (Natasza Urbanska), a vaudeville dancer and Jan (Borys Szyc), a cavalryman and a poet who embody all social reality. The topic, though may create a danger of kitschy clichés, is accurately handled. The two supply the story with human struggles, feelings, dilemmas, dreams, sorrows and joys; they are realistically depicted as foremost humane but, in the long run, ready for heroic deeds. After their wedding urgently conducted by historic figure, priest Ignacy Skorupka, their oath is loyalty to each other and to Poland. This oath will unite them at multiple levels... For these roles, casting occurred almost flawless: Natasza Urbanska in her film debut beautifully portrays a young, talented woman who grows in genuine feelings and very convincing motives. Borys Szyc, the actor popular among the younger generation of viewers, very well depicts the situation of a young man of that period: his own goals give in before the duty to fight and personal ideas get polished in face of true reality. He becomes a patriot in time, what is it if not the experience that makes us the way we are?
And other cast...Daniel Olbrychski perhaps does not portray Pilsudski in such a perfect manner that Janusz Zakrzenski would perhaps do that; however, he really does his best to underline the genius of the man who is truly at the core of Poland's heart, who is with the people and for the people; finally, someone who does not deny the divine intervention and says memorably: 'everything is in God's hands' Unlike the Russian leaders of the time, he accepts the supernatural power. More to say, not in the blasphemous "God is with us" (as other monstrosity once did...) but the redemptive "God deliver us" In that way, the events end as a 'miracle' but not solely as the intervention of God but true people's effort who contribute to the end more victorious than miraculous. A nice performance is given by Lukasz Garlicki as priest Skorupka who dies at Ossow with the Cross raised high. The Russian leaders like Igor Guzun as Stalin, Viktor Balabanov as Lenin and Aleksandr Khoshabaev as general Tuchaczevsky very well fit to their roles. Among other supporting cast, Adam Ferency as Bukovsky personifies all wretchedness of the revolution; Olga as Sofia Nikolajevna represents the old, destroyed world, the tsarist Russia (candle at the Madonna motif) and Aleksandr Domogarov as sympathetic Kryszkin. Some best Polish actors are also given their parts, including Ewa Wisniewska in a humorous role of Ada.
Within its artistic merits, the film can particularly boast memorable images of uhlans from bird's view. The 3D technology makes effect in battles as well as the shots of streets and interior decors. Consider, for instance, the falling shoe during one of Ola's performances... Moreover, a memorably presented moment is the battle at Radzymin. Much is to be thanked to cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, renowned for his achievement in Ridley Scott's BLACK HAWK DOWN. The movie is also accurately set in the period depicting its trends of culture, costumes, songs; displaying weapons like armored cars, planes, and, surprisingly, observation balloons. Among the songs, a truly iconic one and the one I have a soft spot for is "First Brigade" And humorous breaking of Russian ciphers...
A great film that has indeed much to say to the youngest generation. No shining words but shining examples that invite us to remember those boys and those days of wounded but victorious Poland.
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