Forgotten Songs – Polish Musical Films

Forgotten Songs – Polish Musical Films

A review of four emblem Polish musical films will be supplemented with a review of television short and medium length musical forms from the late 60s (presented also on TVP Kultura), which are unbelievably interesting from the point of view of the film technique of the prototypes of the video clips of today. These are the films made by the greatest choreographers, costume designers and operators of the Polish cinema.

The Polish musical cinema may take pride in a fairly extensive list of titles. The very first Polish post-war film “Forbidden Songs” (the pun in the title of the section was included on purpose) was in fact a musical film. The film by Leonard Buczkowski evolved to this form from initially a simple documentary idea to save from oblivion the insurgent songs of the destroyed Warsaw, without penetrating the historical twists of the beginnings of Polish post-war cinema. It is fair to say that the “Forbidden Songs” became the first and most important film hit after World War II. In the following years, there were more musical films, mainly due to Janusz Rzeszewski and Jerzy Zarzycki: the first one was the author of as many as four titles, including such popular titles as “Hallo szpicbródka, czyli ostatni występ króla kasiarzy”, “Miłość ci wszystko wybaczy”, “Lata dwudzieste, lata trzydzieste” (these four are complemented by the less successful film “Special Mission”). Zarzycki won the hearts of the Polish audience reaching for the work of the prewar vaudeville in the movie “The Soldier of the Queen of Madagascar;” he is also the author of another musical film, “Klub kawalerów.”

In the recent years, the Polish musical cinema is going through a renaissance, to mention even such titles as “The Lure” by Agnieszka Smoczyńska or “#Wszystko gra” by Agnieszka Glińska. Hence the decision of the Artistic Director Michał Oleszczyk to include the films presenting this particular genre in the programme of the Festival. “I think that we all increasingly feel that musical films are on the rise in Poland,” says Oleszczyk. “Two years ago, “Polish Shit” triumphed in the Visions Apart Competition, and this year, music plays a particularly strong role in the Main Competition entry, “All Those Sleepless Nights” by Michał Marczak, which even sports an idosyncratic dance number. I am glad that in Gdynia, we will remind the audience how Polish musical cinema looked and sounded in the previous decades”.

“I composed the overview “Forgotten Songs – Polish musical films” out of four films showing different ideas on the use of the genre and different approaches to musical form of the creators over the years,” says Tomasz Kolankiewicz from TVP Kultura, the initiator and curator of the section. “Starting with the film “Heat” by Kazimierz Kutz, being an attempt at transferring the extremely popular cabaret of Elderly Gentlemen by Jeremy Przybora and Jerzy Wasowski to cinema screens, through the comedy “Million for Laura” from the early 70s, full of skiffle music, the brilliant “The Great Picnic” involving the Maanam band, to the adaptation of “The Academy of Mr. Kleks” by Jan Brzechwa. Songs as illustration and those which counterpoint the plot, the use of animation, complex choreography… and all this against the background of the changing Polish People’s Republic: the half-fairy-tale Warsaw of the 60s, the capital and province of the early 70s, children’s home, dark corners, dens and the Warsaw Central Station from the early 80s, to the escape from the hopelessness of the mid-80s to the land of fairy tales”.

The full length programme will be supplemented by documentary short and medium length films, such as „Kulig” (dir. Stanisław Kokesz), where Bogumił Kobiela is accompanied by, among others, Skaldowie, Maryla Rodowicz, Alibabki; “Koncert na 707 ulic” (dir. Ryszard Pluciński), that is, an edited set of a couple of video clips for the cult works of the bands of the 60s; “Ewa Demarczyk” (dir. Jan Laskowski), a musical film with beautiful lighting presenting the video clips of the most important works from the repertoire of the great singer, recorded in the set decoration to the film “King Boleslaus the Bold”.

“Forgotten Songs – Polish musical films” is a fourth edition of a review of Polish genre films co-organized by TVP Kultura. In the recent years, the viewers saw in Gdynia: “Lost in Space – a review of Polish forgotten science-fiction films”, “The Archives of Horror – a review of Polish short and medium length horror films”, and in the last year “Code Name Murder – review of Polish militia films”. The reviews are simultaneously presented at the Festival and broadcast on TVP Kultura.

See the films’ descriptions.