OCTOBER FILM: 10/20  Wed. 7:30 PM
Dir. Andrzej Wajda, 1975

The film won October poll narrowly by one vote, whiff!  My own personal preference, so I'm quite happy about it.

The total vote was 18:
Maids of Wilko - 4 votes
The promised Land - 7 votes
The Debt - 6 votes
The White Soup - 0 votes
• (Unspecified) Other - 1 vote

Based on a novel by Wladyslaw Reymont (1924 Nobel Prize for Literature for Chlopi), the film is set in the industrial city of Lodz and tells the story of a Pole, a German, and a Jew struggling to build a factory in the raw world of 19th century capitalism.  Wajda presents a shocking image of the city, with its dirty and dangerous factories and ostentatiously opulent residences devoid of taste and culture.  The film follows in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, Emile Zola and Maxim Gorky, who gave testimony of social protest.
Starring:  Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Pszoniak, Andrzej Seweryn, Anna Nehrebecka, Kalina Jedrusik and many more big stars of the Polish cinema of 70s - for full cast and credits go there.

Very interesting tele-disc made for the movie here.
Trailer (in Polish only) for the movie here.
Wojciech Kilar's Waltz music from the movie here.
Wajda himself writes about the movie here (+ a few reviews included)
Wikipedia article (in English) about Wladyslaw Reymont here - the script was based on his book.

Posted 10/26:

I read somewhere that the film's message was very acceptable to the Polish regime in power when it was made, and that the film reviewers were government-encouraged to give it high marks for the harsh portrayal of capitalist Poland.  I loved the film the first time around, when it came out, even though back then I don't remember reading any reviews of it - it was just a stunning picture to me, commenting on human traits, beautifully done and acted.  I remember thinking that it will be a hard to forget film, although its political message probably went right over my head - it was a common knowledge back then that Reymont, the author of the book on which the movie script was based, worked as a clerk for an industrialist about the time the book takes place (the end of 19 century), so I thought he wrote on what he saw: the moral and spiritual gangrene that can overtake a person who chooses to act on greed alone.  I also remember noting the workers' struggles and wondering if the class war is over. Oh, well:).

The film  proved so memorable, that watching it so many years later in OKO I noticed how many parts were cut from the DVD version; that I found very disappointing.   Nevertheless the film withstood the test of time: even with some scenes missing, it is still super interesting portrayal of the city of Lodz in certain historical point - when it was very linguistically and culturally diverse, and when Poland was actually off the map as a country!

And the music!  Did I mention the beautiful and haunting music of the film?  It deserves a separate post - not living in Poland for so many years I haven't have the chance to hear it often;  hearing it now touched me the same way as the first time.


  1. I did not come to October screening but I saw "The Promised Land" a long time ago in Poland. Today, I read Aleks's commentary and I wondered: did OKO show the original version of the movie or the one with Andrzej Wajda's changes and cuts?In 2000 he made rather controversial changes, at least that was what I had heard. The restored version is 30 minutes shorter; also the order of some scenes is changed.

  2. hi, sister of hannah,

    no, it definitely was NOT the original version:(. i was not aware of the 2000 changes and cuts. why would Wajda do it? do you know? what was controversial about it? i googled it after reading your comment and i found this (you may have to copy and paste this URL, because i do not know how to make a link 'active' in comments section:

    9 października 2000 odbyła się w Teatrze Wielkim w Warszawie premiera nowej wersji filmu. W stosunku do pierwowzoru była krótsza o ok. 30 min. Zmieniona została kolejność niektórych scen filmu, pojawiły się także sceny znane z serialu tv, których nie było w pierwotnej wersji filmu (montażu dokonali Andrzej Wajda i Halina Prugar-Ketling).

    and this, in english:
    Now, a quarter of a century later, he sees the real beginning of the film is the prayer, of the German, the Jews and the Pole. Its important that this beginning takes place in Łódź, since this is a film about that place.

  3. Perhaps "controversial" is too strong of a word. I just heard that some people liked the original version better.

  4. Dobre filmy nigdy sie nie starzeja

  5. tak, Anonymous: stare filmy nigdy sie nie starzeja:)

    sister of hannah: i'm definitely among 'some' people. and Kalina Jedrusik's big breasts is not the only thing i'm missing from the old version:)


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Polish Movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Since OKO meets only once a month, here is a list of movies in Polish, with English subtitles, available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Documentaries are not included. If you are into that genre, there is a ton available! Enjoy!