Based on a well-known Polish novel with the same title the movie re-tells a true life story of a group of scouts called ''Szare Szeregi'' (Gray Ranks) during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw ... See full summary »
"Powstanie Warszawskie" ("Warsaw Uprising") is the world's first feature film assembled entirely of documentary materials. The film tells the story of the Warsaw Uprising as seen by two ... See full summary »
Despite being in love with a Ukrainian boy from the same village, Polish girl named Zosia is forced into marrying a wealthy widower. Soon World War II begins and ethnic tensions arise. Amidst the war chaos Zosia tries to survive.
44 / 40 - that is how high the rating could have been
First a quick in-deep synopsis. This movie is about probably the blackest hour of the history of Poland: it shows the Warsaw Uprising in the summer of 1944. The underground resistance movement after 5 years of Nazi occupation brought an open fight to the streets of capital. They planned for a 2-3 days struggle, but the battle went for 2 months; while the Russians forces driving the Germans back to the III Reich territory stopped at the Vistula river on the other side of the city (not crossing it for another 4 months). But this is not a biographical movie or chronicle account of historic events. The Uprising is (not so merely) a setting for a love triangle between a boy and 2 girls. And that is historically correct: many teens and children took active part in that WW2 battle
A love story in a war environment can very easily turn into a blockbuster soap opera. A movie about the national tragedy can easily turn into an obituary overloaded with shallow patriotic clichés. A well financed war picture can be an empty festival of special effects and explosion. But the "Warsaw '44" (in Poland entitled "City 44") does not. The director / screenwriter Jan Komasa swiftly avoided all of those traps. The viewers may also think that this movie will be boring, because of the slow pasted beginning of the story. But after seeing on the screen the first dropped body and some time later the first fantasy-like kiss scene, this is all but gone: we are fully pulled into this epic war and love story. Also stereotypical mines like "all Polish people are good / heroic and all Germans are evil / cowards" are nicely diffused through the entire picture. Of course the viewers are shown scenes like an execution of civilians by Germans soldiers and accounted for polish medical personnel taking care of wounded Germans; but we also get to see a polish officer pulling his rank to have a free sex with a polish girl, as well we see a German soldier vouching for some Poles in front of a Wehrmacht sweep commando. Viewers are also left with questions like: did the main charter kill a defenseless German soldier or was a mercy shown to him?
The technical level of this picture is at the top. If you like big budget Hollywood films, then this one is for you. Albeit it was made in Europe, there is very little in terms of special effects that could be done better in it. And this movie is like "The Matrix" (1999): in that (aside from the use of bullet time) it probably does not come up with anything new (with the exception the aforementioned kiss scene). But it does combine all of the well know elements (from both action / war genre and the chick flick features) and creates out of them a whole new quality, with attractive visuals and sound effects. For example the putting of a camera on a barrel of a hand held gun you could already see in the "9th Company" (2005); but here it still feels quite fresh and puts you in a middle of that action like when playing a computer game (an attempt that landed quite flat in he same year in the "Doom" movie, based on a eponymous first person shooter). And the confrontation between the two girls is made in such crafted and unexpected fashion, with bitter words painting how a post war existence will most likely look like for one of them, that it is just heartbreaking. And there are many memorable scenes of battle, joy, death and sex; with the most disturbing being the one showing a panic attack in the city's sewer system
As for the music- it plays a vital role. But do not expect a typical symphonic background, an all to epic choruses or some cheap jump scares; because the score is often quite simplistic. The composer Antoni Lazarkiewicz created both pure piano and neo-classical tracks but also a modern fusion of strings, guitars and electronic sounds, matching the screen events. And on top of that they have put various songs into this picture; including among others: a track by The Ink Spots from 1940's, a track from 70's by Czeslaw Niemen and to a much more surprise a piece of dub step. Without giving away the details, that dub step fits perfectly in those visually and emotionally crafted two scenes (kind of like the "All Along The Watchtower" reworked by Bear McCrery, written in 1967 by Bob Dylan, fitted nicely into a season finally of "Battlestar Galactica" s-f series in 2007). So not only is the original score great but also the music supervision deserves a kudos
And for those who say that the presented story is chaotic: you are half right. War (and love) can be a chaotic thing, so the movie simply reflects that. But also how and what we see simply comes out from the given style: the camera always follows one of the three main characters; and as such you do not get to see for example the landing of (very limited number of) regular polish army troops (equipped by the Russians), sent to boost the morale of the ongoing guerrilla fight in the surrounded city. Those troops just kinda show up on the streets one day- as they would for you, if you were a simple resistance movement combatant just doing your thing. But this and others actual events (like a scarce parachute drops made by western Allies, explaining to some point how could possibly the fighters survive for 2 months on scarce supplies) could be more and / or clearer incorporated into the story. It would give some more info to the less historically educated viewers and make "Warsaw '44" also a little longer than just over two hours. And because of that the rating of this great movie is only 10/10, and not 11/10
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