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THE CARPATHIAN FILM TRAIL 1

The Carpathian Film Trail presents motion pictures which are set in the borderlands between the Małopolska and the Prešov Regions. The second trail element is presenting the profiles of film artistes who are natives of this area. read more

The Carpathian Film Trail features films which are set in the borderlands between the Małopolska Voivodeship and the Prešov Region and thus correspond to the cultural and artistic heritage of that region. The films have been classified into two fundamental categories – feature films and documentary films. Many a film aficionado finds discovering the genuine locations of their favourite films to be an entertaining and rewarding activity. One nationwide example of taking advantage of film tourism in Poland is the website polskanafilmowo.pl.

The following description includes both Polish and Slovak motion pictures. They are frequently evidence of how much these two countries have in common. It is true for the legends of the highwayman Jánošík, for instance, which are part of both the Polish and Slovak heritage. The trail features such popular films as Juraj Jakubisko’s Tisícrocná vcela (A Thousand-Year-Old Bee), but it by no means excludes the pictures which are more underground, but still a must-see, a perfect example of the excellent documentary being W Nowicy na końcu świata (In Nowica at the End of the World) by Natasza Ziółkowska-Kurczuk.

The second building block of the Carpathian Film Trail is providing the profiles of the people of the cinema who are somehow connected with the said borderlands region. These include the creators (directors, actors, screenwriters) who were born here, and sometimes worked here as well. Each artiste has been assigned to the town he was born in.

 

1921 Jánošík, directed by Jaroslav Jerry Siakeľ

Feature film

 

             Completed in 1921, Jánošík is the first Slovak full-length feature film and at the same time the only surviving Slovak full-feature piece from the silent film era. Slovak Cinematography -  was developing in the shadow of the Czech film industry. The majority of film companies belonged to the Czechs, Hungarians, and Germans. In the period of silent films, a film was considered Slovak when its plot related to the life of the Slovak nation. (Source: Historia kina, tom I, Kino nieme, [The history of the cinema, Volume I, The silent cinema], eds. Tadeusz Lubelski, Iwona Sowińska, Rafał Syska, p.863).

            Jánošík was filmed by two brothers, Daniel and Jaroslav Siakel’, who founded the Tatra Film Corporation in Chicago. The key narrative is framed within a story set in modern times – a group of tourists pause at the head shepherd's house, where he spins a tale about the Slovak highwayman Jánošík. Leading a band of highwaymen, the protagonist steals from the rich and redistributes the booty among the poor.

            In 1975, Jánošík was restored based on the American version. In 1995, the film was listed by UNESCO as world cultural heritage.

 

Production - Czechoslovakia

Directed by Jaroslav Jerry Siakeľ

Written by Jaroslav Jerry Siakeľ, Jozef Žák-Marušiak

Cinematography by Daniel Siakeľ , Oldřich Beneš

Outdoor filming locations - Blatnica, Jasenovce, Ďumbier, Gader Valley, Kláštor pod Znievom, Kráľova Hoľa, Mošovce, Necpaly, Orava, Prague, Turčianska Štiavnička, Turčianskie Teplice

 

Cast:

Theodor Pištěk – Jánošík

Karel Fiala

Mária Fábryová

 

 

 

 

1935 Jánošík, directed by Martin Frič

Feature film

 

             A joint venture of Slovak and Czech filmmakers, this filmed story about Jánošík was one of the most important achievements of the Czechoslovak cinema of the 1930s. At a time when cinema was becoming an instrument of Nazi propaganda, the creators managed to make a film about the national hero of Slovakia.

In Martin Frič’s film, Jánošík is a Slovak, which is in line with the legend. Also, as stated in the oral traditions, he dies after he is left hanging on a hook by his ribs. Just like in the Polish version of the film and in Jerzy Passendorfer’s TV series, Jánošík gives the stolen valuables to the needy (an element which is different in Katarzyna Adamik and Agnieszka Holland’s film - the latest version of the story about the Tatra highwayman).

The picture by the Slovak director was edited in a very modern way for those days. It is characterised by fast and very dynamic editing. The director made the most of the dramatic devices typical of American westerns.

The story about Jánošík invariably entails the depiction of the Tatra landscapes and mountain folklore. The 1935 film is no different. The highwaymen are clad in traditional highland clothes; they sing and dance a lot.

 

Production - Czechoslovakia

Directed by Martin Frič

Written by Karel Hašler, Martin Frič, Karel Plicka, Štefan Letz, Ivan J. Kovacevic

Cinematography - Ferdinand Pečenka

Outdoor filming locations - the Tatra Mountains

 

Cast:

Pal’o Bielik – Jánošík

Filip Dávidik - Janičko

Vladimir Majer – an Officer

 

 

 

 

 

1956 Skalna ziemia (Rocky Soil), directed by Włodzimierz Borowik

Documentary film

 

In the second half of the 1950s in Poland, there appeared documentary films that were classified by critics as belonging to one common thread they referred to as the black series. The films constituted the voice of opposition against the upbeat film chronicles of the communist propaganda and the socialist realist documentaries. A group of young documentary makers set themselves the goal to portray the country enslaved by the communist Government. One of them was Włodzimierz Borowik.

            The documentary Skalna ziemia represents the black series, but it also has one feature that makes it stand out from the rest of the cycle works – an individual protagonist. In other films, the protagonist equals a community, a group, but here – a doctor working in the small town of Gorce.

            Like in other documentary films in this trend, Skalna ziemia provides the viewer with contrived situations. Another common denominator is a running commentary – engaged, shedding light on the problems, and suggesting an unambiguous interpretation.

The documentary narrates the story of a doctor who practises medicine in the back of beyond, where superstitious people still believe in folk healers and their witchcraft-like treatment methods. The protagonist, who is at the same time the story narrator, must contend with their disbelief and lack of trust.

The picture was shot in Gorce and its surrounding villages. The doctor’s office is located in Kamienica, which today lies in the Limanowa District.

 

Production - Poland

Directed by Włodzimierz Borowik

Written by Włodzimierz Borowik, Marcin Gołąb

Cinematography - Antoni Staśkiewicz

Outdoor filming locations - Kamienica, Gorce

 

1962 Zamarła Turnia, directed by Sergiusz Sprudin

Documentary film

           

            At a height of 2,179 metres above sea level, Zamarła Turnia is a twin-peak mountain in the Tatras, famous for its southern face – very steep, over 120 metres high, for a long time considered impossible to climb. The first successful recorded attempt to climb the mountain up its southern face took place on 23 July 1910 and was made by Henryk Bednarski, Józef Lesicki, Leon Loria, and Stanisław Zdyb (earlier, mountaineers used to climb up the northern face only). Over the next years, attempts to repeat this success ended with the deaths of many Tatra mountaineers, earning the southern face a reputation as one of the most challenging to climb in the Tatra Mountains.

The documentary by Sergiusz Sprudin beautifully presents the struggle to climb Zamarła Turnia up its southern face. The screenplay was written by Jan Długosz, the Polish Tatra and Alps climber, mountain rescuer, and story writer. Before the premiere on 2 July 1962, Długosz fell from the ridge of Zadni Kościelec in the High Tatras and died.

A short presentation of the archive photographs from the picture collections of the Tatra Museum which opens Zamarła Turnia marks the mountain tourism of the previous century – ladies in hats and long dresses, and the pioneers of curved wood planks. Looking at these historic pictures and watching the film material itself, we get the feeling that the narrator’s words are becoming more and more valid today, only the mountains remaining unchanged.

 

Production - Poland

Directed by Sergiusz Sprudin

Written by Jan Długosz

Outdoor filming locations - the southern face of Zamarła Turnia

 

1970 Góry o zmierzchu (Mountains at Dusk), directed by Krzysztof Zanussi

Feature film

 

            This short feature film by Krzysztof Zanussi is the story of a professor, once a skilful Tatra mountaineer trailblazing the Polish mountains, who visits the Tatra Mountains once a year. His annual trips coincide with the anniversary of the death of his friend, who tragically lost his life in the Tatras while going to get help for the professor injured during their joint climb.

The film portrays another such trip, during which the professor goes mountain hiking in the Tatras along with two young companions. During their hike, the professor talks with them and reminisces about his late friend.

            Góry o zmierzchu features a scientist as the main character. In many of Zanussi’s later films, for example Barwy ochronne (Camouflage), the academic milieu is a frequently-recurring theme; so are the Tatras and mountain climbing, which, either in the foreground or background, run through the artistic work of one of the most important directors of the Cinema of Moral Concern, e.g. in the 1972 Iluminacja (Illumination) or the 1980 Constans (The Constant Factor).

             In 1973, Góry o zmierzchu earned Zanussi the Trophy at the Trento Film Festival of Mountains and Exploration.

 

Production - Poland

Directed by Krzysztof Zanussi

Written by Krzysztof Zanussi, Edward Żebrowski

Cinematography - Sławomir Idziak (climbing pictures - Andrzej Galiński, Jerzy Surdel)

Outdoor filming locations - the Tatra Mountains

 

Cast:

Marek Perepeczko – Jarek

Andrzej Zawada – Andrzej

Jerzy Kreczmar – the professor

 

1972 Obrazy starého sveta (Pictures of the Old World), directed by Dušan Hanak

Documentary film

 

            In his documentary Obrazy starého sveta, Dušan Hanak chooses an exceptionally-picturesque way to portray the seniors inhabiting the regions of Liptov and Orava. The director has created a collection of characters who lead a simple life according to their own values, away from the hustle and bustle of modern civilisation. Yet, they still dare to dream and focus on things completely detached from their everyday rural existence; for instance, the elderly shepherd spins tales about the moon’s gravity, and at work he peruses the newspapers with a magnifying glass. Hanak portrays his heroes with a great deal of affection and due respect.

For these people, money, comfortable living conditions, or even their own poverty, are of secondary importance. What is more significant is dignity and pride. Although they are all of modest means, nobody ever complains. One of them says to the film crew: your hearts are made of concrete, thus describing the audience from the city. The characters in Hanak’s film know what is really important in life, although they cannot quite name it. However, when asked a question the of what is the greatest value in life, they unanimously answer: I don’t know.

            To create this picture, the director drew his inspiration from the photographs by Martin Martinecek. Continuing his coherent artistic vision, Hanak froze many filmed shots. Still shots on the screen seem to acquire the character of expressionist paintings.

 

Production - Czechoslovakia

Directed by Dušan Hanak

Written by Dušan Hanak

Cinematography - Alojz Hanúsek, Martin Martincek

Outdoor filming locations - Liptov, Orava

 

1973, Janosik, directed by Jerzy Passendorfer

Feature film, TV series

 

            As emphasised by series director Jerzy Passendorfer, the legend is not to be taken too seriously (source: www.filmpolski.pl). In line with this opinion, one of the most popular TV series of the 1970s is full of light-hearted scenes and witty dialogues.

Granted, the legend of the highland outlaw may have little to do with historical truth, but, after all, this is not what the series is all about. It is quite likely that in Poland Janosik will always be identified with Marek Perepeczko, the leading actor. He is strong, brave, and heroic. He is our own Robin Hood – he fights with the rich only to redistribute the loot among the poor.

In the TV series, Janosik is a Pole. As we know, he was in fact a Slovak. However, maybe his nationality is not as important as his highland identity. The highlanders from the borderland between Poland and Slovakia have always had a lot in common. They shared traditions, legends, and problems.

The series was shot in the Pieskowa Skała Castle, near Ojców, in Subcarpathia, and in studios in Warsaw and Prague. All these locations successfully imitate Podhale.

 

Production - Poland

Directed by Jerzy Passendorfer

Written by Tadeusz Kwiatkowski

Cinematography - Stefan Pindelski

Outdoor filming locations - Pieskowa Skała Castle, the region around Ojców, various regions of Subcarpathia

 

Cast:

Marek Perepeczko – Janosik

Ewa Lemańska – Maryna

Bogusz Bilewski – Waluś Kwiczoł

Witold Pyrkosz – Jędruś Pyzdra

 

1974, Janosik, directed by Jerzy Passendorfer

Feature film

 

             There were as many Janosiks as there were legends thereof – the opening motto of Passendorfer’s film fully retains its character. Moreover, the popularity of both the film and the series, shot at the same time (the former being the cinema version of the latter) forever influenced our perception of the main character. Upon hearing the word “Janosik,” Polish viewers will probably always have the muscular and heroic Marek Perepeczko before their eyes.

            The cinema adaptation was made as a by-product of the TV series. It consists of the fragments of some of the episodes edited together. Sadly, it has affected the overall dramatic cohesion of the film.

             Those who prefer the series criticised its cinema equivalent for lacking in many scenes which were key to the story. We cannot at the same time forget that the series comprised thirteen episodes; therefore, the movie had to be shorter, naturally. For the series fans and experts, however, it is never enough!

 

Production - Poland

Directed by Jerzy Passendorfer

Written by Tadeusz Kwiatkowski

Cinematography - Stefan Pindelski

Outdoor filming locations - Pieskowa Skała Castle, the region around Ojców, various regions of Subcarpathia

 

 

 

Cast:

Marek Perepeczko – Janosik

Ewa Lemańska – Maryna

Bogusz Bilewski – Waluś Kwiczoł

Witold Pyrkosz – Jędruś Pyzdra

Marian Kociniak – Murgrabia

 

 

1974 Jak to się robi (How It’s Done) directed by Andrzej Kondriatiuk

Feature film

           

The famous duet - Zdzisław Maklakiewicz and Jan Himilsbach - needs no introduction. The actors’ brilliant performances in many motion pictures, including the iconic Rejs (The Cruise), are unforgettable. Thanks to their talent for comedy, each film featuring them both has enjoyed enduring popularity up to this day.

             The same goes for the film Jak to się robi, shot in Zakopane and its surroundings. It tells the story of a director (Maklakiewicz) and a writer (Himilsbach), who meet on a train and decide to make a film together. They end up in the Muza Hotel for Artists in Zakopane, where they try to come up with an idea for a screenplay and to find an actress for the lead female role. More than in work, however, they are involved with women and the winter attractions of Zakopane.

            The two regular screen partners are always a great crowd-puller. Their dialogues and all their successive ideas are gems of the Polish cinema of the communist period, which had a very distinctive type of humour.

The film portrays the Zakopane of the 1970s, which is its additional asset. Zakopane was a popular winter holiday destination for Polish people back then, just like today. For older viewers, the film is a sentimental journey back in time.

 

Production -  Poland

Directed by Andrzej Kondratiuk

Written by Andrzej Kondratiuk, Zdzisław Maklakiewicz

Cinematography - Wiesław Rutowicz

Outdoor filming locations - Zakopane, Kasprowy Wierch

 

 

Cast:

Zdzisław Maklakiewicz – Zdzisław Kozłowski

Jan Himilsbach – Narożny

Emilia Krakowska – Alina Kubacka, the manager of the Muza Hotel for Artists

1975 Trzecia granica (The Third Border), Directed by  Wojciech Solarz, Lech Lorentowicz

Feature film, TV series

 

             The history of the Second World War in the Podhale region is turbulent and full of ambiguities. On the one hand, there was betrayal and the foundation of Goralenvolk; on the other hand, there were the Tatra couriers who helped escapees get across the forested mountain border to Slovakia, and further to Budapest in Hungary.

            The Carpathian Film Trail shows both sides of the story. The series Trzecia granica is the story of Andrzej Bukowian, a young highlander and Tatra courier, who, risking his life, helps the people forced to flee the country get across the southern Polish border.

The screenplay was penned by Adam Bahdaj, the author of popular teen novels, and based on his own book with the very same title. During the Second World War, the writer was a Tatra courier himself. He dedicated his book to his friend, Józef Krzeptowski – also a famous courier of the Tatra Mountains.

The eight-episode series was the result of collaboration between Poland and Hungary. It is set in the Podhale region in Poland, in Budapest, and in Slovakia. The characters include Poles and Slovaks, among whom there are both heroes and traitors.

 

Production - Poland, Hungary

Directed by Wojciech Solarz, Lech Lorentowicz

Written by Adam Bahdaj

Cinematography - Stefan Pindelski

Outdoor filming locations - Zakopane, the Nowa Biała village in Tatras, the Przełom Białki nature reserve, the Strążyska Valley, and other locations.

Cast:

Andrzej Wasilewicz – Andrzej Bukowian

Borys Marynowski – Antek Wichniewicz

Marek Walczewski – Major Smyga

1980 Constans (The Constant Factor), directed by Krzysztof Zanussi

Feature film

 

            Krzysztof Zanussi is one of the creators of the Cinema of Moral Concern. Constans is the flagship masterpiece of this trend and contains its most distinctive features. So we have a contemporary theme, the unambiguous stance of the author, a credible portrayal of the environment in which the film is set, and a young character who experiences initiation.

            The main character is Witold, a young climbing instructor. His father was a mountain climber who died tragically in the Himalayas. Using his network of contacts, Witold gets a job in the office of foreign exhibitions and travels to India. There, he is a witness to the scheming and monkey business of his boss and colleagues.

            As he does not approve of the shenanigans practised by the people in his working environment, Witold quickly becomes subject to harassment and gets laid off. Ubiquitous corruption and hypocrisy get him down slowly but steadily. “You imagine that the world will change if there is one just man”, says Witold’s friend. “The character believes so, but he is wrong. Zanussi has managed to turn this mistake into his most beautiful picture” (cited fromhttp://filmpolski.pl/fp/index.php/12908).

 

Production - Poland

Directed by Krzysztof Zanussi

Written by Krzysztof Zanussi

Cinematography - Sławomir Idziak

Outdoor filming locations - Łódź, India, the Tatra Mountains, and other locations.

 

Cast:

Tadeusz Bradecki – Witold

Zofia Mrozowska –Witold’s mother

Cezary Morawski – Stefan, Witold’s friend


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