100 years of polish cinema

The 100th anniversary of the Polish cinematography has become a natural starting point  for a nostalgic journey. Its path leads us  from the naïve feature exercises originating in the 20s, through the quest to discover the film  language during the silent movie era and the attempts made to compete with the foreign cinematographies of the 30s; from the war-time trauma to the restructuring anew, on the burnt-down house site, of the home movie industry following 1945; from the sparks of artistic creativity and independent thought struggling to overcome the meanders of the socialist political enclosure, up to the film achievements of the reborn Poland.

Our exhibition resembles an ocean voyage made on a tiny boat. During the last 100 years, more than fifteen hundred feature films were made in Poland. All those productions, which survived the tempest of wars and history upheavals, were archived meticulously and with due diligence by the National Film Archive and listed in the Polish Film Internet database.

The exhibition organized by the Polish Film Institute was limited unfortunately to one hundred and thirty titles only. Their selection was governed by the following criteria:  their acknowledged artistic value, national and international awards granted, the influence exerted within a certain film trend, and finally the attendance records indicating the interest aroused among the cinema goers. It may happen that this monographic description leaves out  films made by the most eminent artists; however, we have also brought out from the shadow other films which are of some importance, although not residing in our memory. Our intention was to depict not only the vertical horizons of masterpieces, but also the excerpts from the everyday scenery of the Polish movie industry. Furthermore, this description is not limited only to  an anniversary laudatory applaud. The old film stills loomingly show us figures and faces of actors, but at the same time,  some characteristic sceneries and items which once sank irrevocably into oblivion, but are now resurrected for a spell of time. The characteristics and reviews found in the archives bring to life the words which once accompanied the screen pictures. Then, those words were persuasive; but now, after leaving the old cinema, they persuade us to reach out for old newspapers.

During this difficult journey through various periods,  the Polish cinematography has always been accompanied by the film critics who have spared no effort to become its demanding, but faithful companion.


Rafał Marszałek

history periods