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Quo Vadis (2001)
Worth The Wait
Filmed in 2001, the latest version of Quo Vadis is finally being released in a region 1 version with English subtitles. I waited SO long for the opportunity to see this film and it does not disappoint. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it is a "must see," I found it to be very well made on most levels and I recommend it without any reservations.
The costumes, sets, and special effects are very realistic and believable and the film makes a sincere attempt to stay true to the historical events and people on whom the story is based.
Although the burning of Rome could have been improved upon, the scene of the Christians being torn to pieces by the lions makes up for it. This scene is not over-the-top gruesome, yet remains horrifying to watch. The terror of the Christians is clearly felt,likewise, the scene of Christians being burned alive.
While every actor/actress in this film did an admirable job, the part of Petronius (played by the great Boguslaw Linda) is outstanding. In fact, Linda may have been just a little too good. Although the character of Petronius is an integral part of the storyline, the character is still that of a supporting role, however, Linda's portrayal is so powerful that in every scene in which he appears, the attention of the viewer remains riveted on Linda. This can at times make the acting of everyone else seem a little less convincing. Linda does not intentionally upstage, but rather he is so good that he can't help but stand out.This is one one of Boguslaw Linda's best performances and I would love to see him cast in more dramas.
Although this film is not preachy, it is about the early days of Christianity and the final scene of the film does leave a Christ centered message.This message can be interpreted several different ways, but to me, the message was that faith in Christ as well as obedience to his teachings is still imperative in the modern world and a necessity in order to achieve salvation. Hence the title of the film, Quo Vadis?; where are you going?
Zloto dezerterów (1998)
Polish Hogan's Heros
This is one of the worst films anyone could ever hope to see. I watched it for one reason, because I am a Boguslaw Linda fan, but not even a great actor like Linda could possibly hope to salvage anything out of this movie. I can't believe he even agreed to be in this horrible disaster.I watched to the finish hoping that it might get a little better. Big mistake.
The plot (if you can call it that) surrounds the Polish underground stealing a shipment of Nazi gold from the Third Reich during World War II. I really am wondering if someone in Poland watched too many Hogan's Heros re-runs and decided to try their hand at the same, the difference being this movie makes one episode of Hogan's Heros look like Masterpiece Theatre if that tells you anything.
This is the worst waste of film, money, and a talent like Linda's that has ever been produced. Don't waste two hours of your life on this.
Not the Best, but Not the Worst Either
This isn't the best movie I've ever seen, but it certainly isn't the worst. I watched it primarily because Boguslaw Linda is in it. True to form, Linda is great as always. He isn't on camera a lot, but when he does he shines. The other actors do an adequate job, and the plot is plausible, but it is Linda that makes this film worth the two hours of your time.
I wonder when Hollywood is finally going to come to their senses and beg Linda to make an American film. Most Americans have never heard of Linda, but I have no doubt that they would be an appreciative audience if only given the exposure to this man's great talent.I know Linda could easily walk away with an Oscar if the opportunity presented itself.
Linda is the ONLY Reason to Watch This Movie
This movie is just plain awful.Everything from the plot to the acting is absurd. There is only one reason why anyone should even waste their time watching this film, and that is a very brief appearance by Boguslaw Linda. He is in this movie for three scenes amounting to a grand total of about five minutes, and they are the only good five minutes associated with this movie.
Linda plays an apartment maintenance man who bears a striking resemblance to the great Polish actor Boguslaw Linda. In one of the scenes, he explains why looking like Boguslaw Linda has been nothing but a curse. This scene lasts only about two minutes, but it is one of the funniest two minutes I've ever watched. I replayed this particular scene five times and laughed non-stop each time. Admittedly, in order to appreciate the full humor, you must be both a Linda fan and aware of the tough guy, macho roles he so often plays.
It just goes to show how great Linda is- even when the movie is a total bomb, Linda always shines. If you're a Linda fan, this scene is not to be missed. Unfortunately, I can't say that about the rest of the film. I recommend that you fast forward to this particular scene and skip the rest of the flick. It's too bad you can't give star ratings to scenes-this one really does deserve ten.
An Instant Favorite
An ex-special forces soldier (Leon). is hired to be the bodyguard of a local mobster's daughter (Sara). They fall deeply in love with each other, but there are obstacles that stand in their way. One, the girl's father has already made plans for her future, and two, Sara is sixteen and Leon is forty. They hide their love, knowing that if Sara's father finds out he really will kill Leon. Needless to say, her father does find out.
The first ten minutes of this film are really quite awful,some of the action shots are over the top, and several parts are downright flaky, but I promise, you will LOVE this movie. This is quite simply one of the most unique and original films I have ever seen. It is a cross between a mob movie, an action film,a comedy, and a love story. Once past the first few scenes, this movie just keeps getting better and better. The last fifteen minutes are wonderful, and the ending is one of my all-time favorites. I hated to see it conclude.
While the action is fast paced and exciting, the real core of this movie is the love story between Leon, (played by the great Boguslaw Linda) and Sara (real life sixteen-year old Agnieszka Wlodarczyk). This is not a case of schoolgirl infatuation, or an older man seducing and taking advantage of a young girl. The love between Leon and Sara is the real thing, and the actors do such a convincing job portraying this that the ages of the characters becomes a moot-point next to the genuine love that comprises this relationship. Pay close attention to the song "I'm Your Man" that is sung as the movie comes to a close. Not only is it a nice love song, but it is sung by Boguslaw Linda. The lyrics fit in so well with the final scene that you realize that the singer is actually Leon, expressing his feelings of love to Sara and it works into the film beautifully.
Along with action and romance, the director makes clever use of humor. This is a Polish movie, and it is clear that in some ways the director was striving to emulate American mob and action movies. When they're not shooting someone, or burying bodies in the back yard, one of the gangsters favorite activities is watching subtitled American films about organized crime. They seem to be mesmerized by them. I am an American, and I don't speak Polish, so this meant I had to use subtitles. Basically then, you have Americans watching a Polish mob movie in subtitles of Polish mob members watching American mob movies in subtitles. You just have to love the paradox there, and I'm pretty sure it was intentional on the part of the director.
In short, there is something about this film that just clicks. Once viewed, it becomes an instant favorite-one of those films you just love to see again and again. I've lent my copy to many of my friends, and I have yet to have anyone tell me they disliked it.
Demony wojny wedlug Goi (1998)
An Exceptional Movie
This movie has a lot going for it. From a technical aspect the cinematography is top-notch, the actors are among Poland's best, (including the great Boguslaw Linda in the lead role) and the plot is fast paced and entertaining. The themes of this movie lend themselves to a lot of thinking about the role of UN Peacekeeping Forces.
During the hight of the Bosnian War, Poland occupied fourth place in the rankings of contributers of military contingents in Yugoslavia even though they had not yet been admitted as a member of NATO. Peacekeeping troops were very limited on what they were allowed to do even when they found themselves or civilians in dangerously grave situations. At the time this movie was made they were often unarmed. It is important to point out that at the time of this film's release, the war in Yugoslavia was reaching a point of conflict not seen in Europe since the Second World War, and human rights violations including "ethnic cleansing" were reaching a level on par with genocide.
This movie revolves around a Major in the Polish Army who makes the decision to deliberately disobey UN policy in order to attempt the rescue of fellow Polish soldiers. This decision puts his men in harms way, and some of them are killed because of his decision. However, his decision to violate UN policy allows him to save the live's of an entire village of people, and isn't that one reason why Peacekeeping troops should be employed? In the end the bad guys lose. Winning wasn't easy, nor was it achieved without sacrifice. Success primarily came about because someone decided to get tough. To me, the movie gave a clear message that the UN needed to take more of a "get tough" policy regarding the Bosnian Crisis, especially in the matter of how much force can be used to protect civilians.
It is interesting to note several events that happened within a year of this films release. One, Poland was admitted as a member of NATO. Two, the UN changed their policies and rules of engagement governing the use of force allowing peacekeepers "to use all necessary means" to protect civilians in their immediate vicinity and prevent violence against UN staff and personnel. Third, the US and NATO intervened with a more forceful approach that caused Yugoslavia to cease it's conflict.
This is one of the few movies I have seen that dealt with current (current when the film was made) military issues not made in the USA. I found it fascinating to see a film that expressed viewpoints regarding peacekeeping from another country.Granted, it may not compare to some of Hollywood's military blockbusters, but this is a well-made thought-provoking movie. I wish I had discovered it years ago. I highly recommend it.