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Poland 44
Poland 44, dedicated to Polish cinema’s contemplation of World War II, was arranged in cooperation with the Polish Institute in Prague for this year's 70th anniversary of the end of the war.
How to deal with the most tragic national experience of the 20th century? Are films intended to strengthen, or to dismantle national myths? How do you remind the younger generations of the experience of World War II if they haven't experienced it themselves? It was the necessity to deal with these questions, which embodied the main creative impulse for the Polish film school in the 1950s and 1060s. These questions even remain topical and controversial today, as proved by three films from 2014 which will be screened in the Czech Republic for the very first time, including what is probably the most awaited and discussed Polish film of the last few years, City 44.
Classic films of the Polish film school will meet their modern counterparts within the Poland 44 section. It is interesting to note that in most cases, a clear line can be traced from dismantling heroic myths to their (at least partial) confirmation. Andrzej Wajda and Andrzej Munk deal with the recent, personally experienced war trauma through questioning the black-and-white ideas about the sense of resistance and sacrifice. The most recent Polish war films, on the other hand, react to a strong social demand for a renewed depiction of the key chapters of the national history, this time unburdened by the ideological restrictions of the communist era. They also attempt to narrate these stories with a style and language as close to the young generation as possible. As the direct experience with war gradually disappears, new films are looking for a compromise between a bitter commentary and propagandistic simplification, but they also increasingly divert from the discussion on national traumas to pop-culture.
This duality is especially pronounced in the two epic films that reflect one of the most dramatic chapters of the war, the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Andrzej Wajda 's Canals is an opus that was perceived as a way to deal with the romantic nationalist myth. On the other hand, young Jan Komasa directed a film that astonishes with its visual side, but focuses, on the other hand, on the question of how to discuss the tragedy of the uprising in the contemporary generation's style.
Similarly, Operation Arsenal from 1977 and last year's Stones for the Rampart represent a classical and a contemporary view of one event: a resistance operation of Scouts to save one of their brothers imprisoned by the Germans. This story has become a stable part of Polish education and awareness thanks to a novel, Stones for the Rampart, which still remains on school reading lists. Just like with City 44, the plot revolves around young people, but while Operation Arsenal strives for an almost documentary-style accuracy, the newer film focuses on the universal motive of growing up in a completely inhuman situation.
The connection of the last duo of films is not so straightforward, but still essential. Andrzej Munk 's Eroica from 1957 bluntly dismantles heroic myths and shows that the reality of war and life is much more complicated than its black-and-white narration. On the other hand, Warsaw Uprising, which was created thanks to the initiative of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, is a tribute to the fighters. Thanks to the masterful approach, colorization and soundtrack of the archival shots of the film chronicle of the rebellion, a unique film experiment has been created, giving life to the fallen and giving back faces and stories to the rebels.
Canal / Kanał / Kanály (Poland) Director: Andrzej Wajda (Poland 44 )
City 44 / Miasto 44 / Město 44 (Poland) Director: Jan Komasa (Poland 44 )
Eroica / Eroica / Eroica (Poland) Director: Andrzej Munk (Poland 44 )
Warsaw Uprising / Powstanie Warszawskie / Varšavské povstání (Poland) Director: Jan Komasa, Władysław Pasikowski (Poland 44 )
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