Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Movie Review: Battle of Warsaw 1920

Battle of Warsaw 1920 (1920 Bitwa Warszawska)
Zodiak Jerzy Hoffman Film Production Sp. z o.o., Forum Films, Bank Zachodni, Polish Film Institute, HBO, Poland, 2011.
Battle of Warsaw 1920

Poland has been over hundred years been divided to Prussia, Russia and Austria. World War I weakened the three countries so it is now time for Poland to gain independence. Lenin (Viktor Balabanov) and the Communists plan to spread Communism to the whole Europe, but patriotic Poland stands on the way. (As a side note: Finland had declared Independence few years earlier in 1917 when Russia was in turmoil. There was a bloody civil war in 1918 when General Mannerheim and the Whites fought against Russian supported Red Guard). 

In Warsaw new trends come and go and young people are enjoying their life after World War 1. Artist and Officer Jan Krynicki (Borys Szyc) proposes nightclub singer Ola Raniewska (Natasza Urbanska). Captain Kostrzewa (Jerzy Bonczak, who appeared as obnoxious Czaplinsky in "With Fire and Sword") is also Ola's fan and a jerk (also in this film!). As Jan intervenes, some drinks are spilled on the lecherous Captain. But pure Vodka does not tarn uniform or honour, so Jan goes unpunished.
Natasza Urbanska
Ola Raniewska
Borys Szyc
Jan Krynicki
Jerzy Bonczak
Captain Kostrzewa
Immediately after the wedding Jan goes to war in Ukraine to free Kiev from Communist sphere of influence. The war is short and Poland is victorious. But the Soviets are already preparing an attack on Poland. Jan mockingly reads aloud propaganda flyers. A humorous moment turns serious when Jan is court martialed for distributing Communist propaganda. Before Jan ends up before firing squad, Bolshevik's attack and Jan is captured. As Chekist Bukowski (Adam Ferency, Turkish Khan in "With Fire and Sword") needs someone to be used as a propaganda tool so he saves Jan's life. Bukowski is a barbaric rapist and so are his men. Jan does not want to enjoy Bukowski's hospitality for long and manages to escape.
Military wedding
Adam Ferency
Although historically the relations with Poland have been difficult, the Cossacks help Jan to return to his troops. The Communists must be stopped before Warsaw or the whole Europe is threatened. As the patriotic wave sweeps over Poland, the peasants and the intellectuals must use their skills against common enemy. Ola goes to serve her country as a nurse, but she can handle also machine gun. Marshal Józef Pilsudski (Daniel Olbrychski) hatches a genius plan to destroy the Soviet attackers and the following battle is later called the Miracle on the Vistula. But Soviet Marshal Tukhachevsky (Aleksandr Goshabayev) does everything he can to foil the plan. (Ironically master strategist Tukhachevsky himself was later executed in Stalin's purges).
Daniel Olbrychski
Marshal Józef Pilsudski
Red Guard on rampage
Aleksandr Goshabayev
Marshal Tukhachevsky
Nearly 80-year old Jerzy Hoffman directs the movie with steady professionalism. He uses the regular cast in his films. Hey, it is Aleksandr Domogarov (Bohun from "With Fire and Sword") as Kryshkin. Also Michal Zebrowski (Jan Skrzetuski from "With Fire and Sword") has a role as Prime Minister Wladyslaw Grabski. Daniel Olbrychski (from "Army of Valhalla" has the role of First Marshal of Poland Józef Pilsudski. 
Michal Zebrowski
Wladyslaw Grabski
Aleksandr Domogarov
Viktor Balabanov
The film makers are seldom interested in European history between the World Wars. Still at the end of the WW1 great tensions were building up and the peace was only a prelude to the events leading to WW2. The script has good mixture of politics, warfare and some romance. David and Goliath setting contrasts the religious Polish mindset against the godlessness of the Bolsheviks. Tragically the following years had Poland first falling under Nazi occupation and then under Soviet occupation.

The colours of the film are slightly off having green tint, and it is because the film was originally filmed on 3D (first Polish film in 3D). Couple of the quick scenes feel like flirting with 3D but it is totally watchable without 3D. Visceral trench warfare feels apocalyptic, with horsemen putting a fight against machine guns and cannons. The costumes and old assault vehicles should satisfy history and militaria buffs. Those who have played "World of Tanks" may recognize FT17.
Polish FT17 covering infantry
Rating: Very good

Starring: Daniel Olbrychski, Natasza Urbanska, Borys Szyc, Jerzy Bonczak, Adam Ferency, Boguslaw Linda, Ewa Wisniewska, Aleksandr Domogarov, Olga Kabo, Adam Strzelecki, Michal Zebrowski, Rafal Cieszynski, Lukasz Garlicki, Piotr Glowacki, Wojciech Solarz, Viktor Balabanov, Jaroslaw Boberek, Stanislawa Celinska, Aleksandr Goshabayev, Krzesimir Debski, Krzysztof Dracz, Marian Dziedziel, Igor Guzun, Ryszard Jablonski, Dariusz Kordek, Jacek Poniedzialek, Janusz Sieniawski, Magdalena Smalara, Zdzislaw Szymborski, Grazyna Szapolowska, Ewa Wencel, Krzysztof Globisz, Elzbieta Romanowska, Georgij Angielow, Mateusz Banasiuk, Dariusz Biskupski, Jerzy Braszka, Marta Dabrowska, Tomasz Drabek, Mateusz Gasiewski, Andrzej Golejewski, Jaroslaw Gruda, Slawomir Holland, Bartosz Kopec, Andrzej Kopiczynski, Marek Kossakowski, Miroslaw Krawczyk, Bogdan Krzywicki, Antoni Królikowski, Ilona Kucinska, Szymon Kusmider, Eugeniusz Malinowski, Grzegorz Milczarczyk, Zbiegniew Modej, Grzegorz Mostowicz-Gerszt, Marek Nowakowski, Bartlomiej Nowosielski ,Wojciech Olszanski, Artur Owczarek, Tadeusz Paradowicz, Tomasz Pawlak, Aleksander Pociej, Jerzy Rogalski, Grzegorz Rutkiewicz, Anna Sasiadek, Andrzej Skolik, Igor Stepanov, Andrzej Szopa, Adam Szyszkowski, Mariusz Tarnozek, Maria Turos, Grzegorz Wolf, Ilja Zmiejew
Director: Jerzy Hoffman


  1. Ai se olikin Lenin, eikä Spede Pasanen :D

    1. Ehkä ne patsaat eri paikoissa ovatkin oikeasti Speden jekkumielessä pystyttämiä.


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