Airing Now07:00 - 08:30You and Me Forever (Denmark)
Tonight 20:00 - 21:00Second Chance ep. 2 (Finland)

Polish cinema
Polish cinema

Despite the important Diaspora in Polish film industry, from which Roman Polanski is the most renowned of its representatives, its contributions to the world and European scene are remarkable.

In the second half of the 19th century, Kazimierz Prószyński, a restless polish inventor ventured into the invention of a camera capable of filming. The innovative device called Pleograph was invented before the worldwide famous Lumiere’s cinematograph. It was precisely Prószyński who filmed the first ever Polish movie: Skating-rink in the Royal Baths (1902).

One of the most prominent filmmakers of the first years of 20th century was Wladyslaw Starewicz, who in spite of his success in Russia and Latvia, was always proud of his Polish roots, reflecting the social problems suffered by his country in films like The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman (1912), The Insects’ Christmas (1913), and later while exiled in France, The Story of the Fox (1930).

Dybuk

 Dybuk

The war and its consequences

After the World War I was finished, the Polish population was able to enjoy the independence they longed for centuries. However, that spirit of freedom didn’t reach an important significance on cinema because of the low budgeted national productions.

In those days, the most remarkable productions were made by Yiddish filmmakers such as Joseph Green y Michal Waszynski, who with their films The Jazz Singer (1939) and Dybuk (1937) showed the country happiness during the inter-war period.

As a result of the Nazi occupation and terrible destruction left by the World War II, Polish cinema fell in ruins, only supported by the Soviet government after the conflict ended and the country remained under communism influence. Thus, with the well known film support towards state propaganda, filmmakers such as Aleksander Ford –a passionate communist who also enrolled in the Red Army- produced movies like Five from Barska Street (1954).

While the social realism was in its high, another star in the Polish film constellation was becoming important. His name was Andrzej Wajda and he flirted with communism subjects in films like A Generation (1954) and tried to shatter the mould with nationalist movies like Ashes and Diamonds (1958). However, it wasn’t until the seventies when Wajda revolutionized the cinema in Poland with his controversial films Man of Marble (1977) and Man of Iron (1981).

The Son of the Diaspora.

The consequences of the war affected not only the economics but also the arts in Poland, and its filmmakers started emigrating in order to produce abroad in freedom. Doubtless, the most important is Roman Polanski, who changed its country and the world with the Oscar winner film, Knife in the Water (1962).

Amongst Polanski’s most important films are: Rosmary’s Baby (1968), Chinatown (1974), The Pianist (2002) and his recent success, The Ghost Writer (2010).

   

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski

The Debt

The Debt

Recent years

In the late decades, directors such as Juliusz Machulski and Marek Koterski have gained international recognition in different film festivals for movies such as Killer (1997). Another of the most remarkable films in Polish cinema history is Krzysztof Krauze’s The Debt (1999), which achieved an impressive success in the box offices and became a blockbuster. Recently, due to globalization, directors such as Jerzy Kawalerowicz and Gavin Hoods are well known in the European circuit.

Return to Eurocinema

Sign up for the Eurochannel Newsletter!

Don't miss our latest line-up, exclusive sweepstakes and events!