Polskie kino historyczne jako kino „postnarodowej pamięci historycznej” „Poznań 56” Filipa Bajona i „Rewers” Borysa Lankosza, cz. II

Piotr Witek


This paper, broken into two parts, describes and discusses the topic of the presentation of recent history in Polish historical films produced after 1989. Examining the films produced in Poland in the last 25 years, which deal with broadly understood topics of recent history, a certain simplification makes it possible to distinguish the following two main trends: (1) martyrdom and heroism, and (2) criticism and reckoning. The paper focuses on showing various ways in which modern history is presented by the criticism-and-reckoning trend, called the cinema of “post-national historical memory” in the text. Films in this trend strive to create a multi-dimensional image of the past. They do not shy from depicting the patriotism, struggle for the freedom of the country, suffering, martyrdom, heroism, steadfastness, and persistence of Poles, but they do not exaggerate, justify, or affirm them either. Instead, they focus on depicting and reckoning with negative social attitudes and such ignominous episodes of national history as, e.g., nationalism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, collaboration, cruelty, treason, denunciation, cowardice, blackmail, etc. In those films, Poles are not just heroes and victims, but also perpetrators, torturers, traitors, and murderers. In other words, it is most of all the difficult topics that are explored by revisionist films. They present and encourage reflection on those threads of national history which are morally ambiguous. Films in this trend usually do not show characters which are unequivocally positive or negative, although sometimes the nature and personality of their heroes are quite one-dimensional. Also, films of this type rarely show a clear division into one's own and strangers. Whenever such a division appears, it is not entirely unambiguous. In revisionist films, one can see the departure from the identification with one's own past, replaced by the attitude which can be defined as the strategy of distancing oneself, characterized by self-criticism and reflection. Films which critically revise the past are formally different. Some of them were made in the esthetics of the “Zero Style Cinema. Some others were created in other conventions, e.g. borrowing from the style of “Dogma”, Italian Neorealism, or documentary. The second part of the paper uses the following two films showing Poland in the 1950s as examples of the cinema of reckoning and criticism: (1) Poznań 56 by Filip Bajon; and (2) Reverse by Borys Lankosz.

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