Veterans and producers of the film on stage at the premiere of Warsaw Rising, National Theatre, Warsaw. Photo: Grzegorz Jakubowski
Colour, sound, and a semi-fictional plot about two brothers tasked with filming aspects of the insurgency have all been added to the material of the movie Powstanie Warszawskie (Warsaw Rising).
The producers distilled over six hours of original footage, editing it into a vivid and coherent whole.
“The absolute authenticity of the film is shocking,” commented historian Professor Andrzej Paczkowski after watching the movie, which tells the story of Poland's Home army (AK) fighting in the face of impossible odds against the Nazis.
Mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz – the daughter of an uprising veteran – said Powstanie Warszawskie shows the moment when insurgents believed that victory was possible.
“Historians are constantly assessing whether or not it was worth it,” she said.
“Those people who took part in the uprising – and you can see it in the film, just as my father told me – they felt freedom, they wanted to be free.They had already enough of everything, and they wanted to finally start living normall," she added.
A number of veterans attended the screening, including some who were caught on camera 70 years ago.
“This is the most truthful portrait of the uprising,” said Irena Pasnik. "But sometimes it was even more cruel. It's hard to believe that we survived it,” she added.
At the outbreak of the insurgency on 1 August 1944, Polish partisans were equipped to fight for about a week unaided but help from supposed allies the Russians was not forthcoming, in spite of earlier pledges.
The uprising lasted for two months before the AK capitulated. Some 200,000 Poles died – mostly civilians – and a Soviet-backed communist regime was ultimately installed in Poland after the war.
Powstanie Warszawskie goes on general release in Poland on 9 May, and it was backed by the Warsaw Rising Museum.
The moving force behind the production was film-maker Jan Komasa. His forthcoming feature film about the insurgency will be premiered on 1 August, marking the 70th anniversary of the outbreak. (nh/pg)