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Books, shows and movies set in Poland


Silesia2Canada 1 | 2
16 Jun 2021 #1
Hi all,
I'm planning my first trip to Poland next year, to visit some of the places my family lived before coming to Canada after WW2.

One of the things I like to do before I travel somewhere is to read books set in those places, and watch movies and shows too. It gives me a feel for the look and feel of different cities, maybe a bit of a historical context, and a sense of what life might be like there.

So I'm here looking for recommendations - what are your favourite books set in Poland? Polish shows? Movies?
Thanks in advance :)
Paulina 12 | 2,231
16 Jun 2021 #2
@Silesia2Canada, I don't have much time right now, but I've tried to think of something connected to a given place, showing it...

So, for now: TV series - I can't say they're my favourite because I haven't really watched much of them, but I know they're popular:

"Ojciec Mateusz" (father Matthew) - rather family friendly based on Italian TV series "Don Matteo" about a "detective" priest. It takes place in Sandomierz - a rather charming city in my region which is more like a small town. The TV series popularised it, tourists visiting the city want to see the places where the show is being filmed, go to the same cafes, etc.

"Wataha" (the pack) - criminal-thriller TV series about border guard unit working on the Polish-Ukrainian border. It popularised the Bieszczady mountains area as a tourist destination.

"Przyjaciółki" (friends/girlfriends) - it's sth like "Sex and the City" Polish style since it's about four female friends in their 30's. It lacks the humour and wit of those American series, but it's watchable, shows everyday lives and is set in Warsaw, so I guess you'd get the feel of the city.

If your family is from Silesia then for historical context - "Sami swoi" - a cult comedy film with the plot taking place after WW2. Very funny :)

As for books - also historical context, this time for the city of Łódź - "Ziemia obiecana" ("The Promised Land") by Władysław Reymont. It was also filmed by Andrzej Wajda under the same title (the movie was nominated for Oscar).
pawian 181 | 17,079
16 Jun 2021 #3
read books set in those places, and watch movies and shows too

Excellent idea.

But, you`d better tell us which places you are planning to visit so we will adjust our list to suit your needs.

Also, what language are you going to use?
OP Silesia2Canada 1 | 2
16 Jun 2021 #4
Great questions!

My great grandmother was born in Oleśnica, and her brother was born just down the road in Namysłów. Their father owned an estate called Kazimierz (called Casimir, in earlier days), it's south of Opole, and about 20km from the Czech border. I was able to find it on Google Earth actually, the main house is very creepy, and very abandoned.

I was thinking I would use Wrocław as a base for the trip, and drive out from there.

As for language, just English. Although I do speak some German, I understand it much better than I can speak it.
pawian 181 | 17,079
16 Jun 2021 #5
As for language, just English

That`s a problem coz productions in the English version are less available in free offer. Sometimes you will have to look for them on paid sites.

E.g Paulina recommended a comedy which was made in Lubomierz not far to Wrocław.

Sami swoi" - a cult comedy film with the plot taking place after WW2. Very funny :)

easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/our-folks
OP Silesia2Canada 1 | 2
17 Jun 2021 #6
Makes total sense, on the language front. I have had some luck with movies/shows that have English subtitles, and also books that are well known enough to have been translated.

For those with Netflix, I would love to know what you think of the series called 1983 (Polish made, available with subtitles). The show is is set in an alternate timeline in which the fall of the communist Polish People's Republic never happened, and the Iron Curtain is still in place.

I've also been reading a few books by Olga Tokarczuk, her mystery novel 'Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead" is set in Silesia, near the Czech border.

There's also a podcast out there called The History of Poland, it is available in English. It traces the history of the geographic region of Poland since people began living there, and it is very thorough.

Thanks very much for the suggestions so far.
Paulina 12 | 2,231
18 Jun 2021 #7
There were some films made in Wrocław and TV series either entirely or partly filmed in that city... For example, a Polish classic "Popiół i diament" ("Ashes and Diamonds") directed by Andrzej Wajda or another black & white film, but this time a comedy "Ewa chce spać" ("Eve Wants to Sleep"). The second season of an acclaimed contemporary criminal-thriller TV series "Belfer" ("The Teacher") was filmed in Wrocław and Warsaw:

m.imdb.com/title/tt6281238/

All I know is that on DVD/Blue-ray it has English subtitles available.

I haven't seen "1983", but I'll check it out if I have time :)

Btw, fun fact - Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies" was filmed in Wrocław - it "played" Berlin from Cold War times :)
Miloslaw 12 | 3,351
18 Jun 2021 #8
I would love to know what you think of the series called 1983

It is very dark but I enjoyed it.

Robert Wieckiewicz, who plays the lead role is a fine actor.
amiga500 2 | 995
18 Jun 2021 #9
It is very dark but I enjoyed it.

It's rubbish. American creator/writer who knew nothing about Poland and communism, the story beats are ripped from Robert Harris's Fatherland novel, the writing is full of characters talking about what they are about to do, and that dreadful woman directed, Agnieszka Holland, who had a tantrum on facebook about hejters when polish reviewers weren't kind. Also most stupidly in this alternate reality where polish communism did not collapse, why is everything so futuristic and modern? ridiculous .

Anyway here's a film about real polish culture in a surreal satirical way youtube.com/watch?v=s6BqM7VI5v0 to the OP its on the torrents with eng subtitles etc
Miloslaw 12 | 3,351
18 Jun 2021 #10
It's rubbish

You are entitled to your opinion, but I enjoyed it.It is fantasy, you need to open your mind to alternative realities.

why is everything so futuristic and modern?

Despite the title of the show, it is based in 2003.Maybe you missed something.
Hey, why all the negative stuff?
This was the first Polish TV show to go global.
Isn't that at the very least praiseworthy?
amiga500 2 | 995
19 Jun 2021 #11
you need to open your mind to alternative realities.

Yes I am a big fan of alternate history genre from Steampunk to Len Deighton's SS-GB to Robert Harris's Fatherland. Alternate History needs to be based on realism to be believable. In 1983 there was no realism or even a representation of communism that had anything to do with reality. The writer and director was lazy and thought oh police offices in poland in 2003 would be like shanghai cbd office in 2020. what absolute bollocks! Plus the writing was terrible.

This was the first Polish TV show to go global.

Only if one is a equates global to netflix, kinda like eating a 'polish' burger or meal at mcdonalds where all taste and culture is diluted for a global audience. As previously mentioned , Wataha (The Border) was a big success on HBO Europe and screened around the world. Also you should watch belfer (the teach) s1 which was on tv in australia as well.

@Milowslaw
Since you are in the U.K I am happy to report that the good polish serials I was talking about are on Channel4 for free.

Wataha/The Border is awesome
Befler/The Teach is awesome but s2 is rubbish
Kruk/Raven is incredible as well, though steals a plot twist from Mr Robot.
Chyłka/The Defense is o.k , usual TVN stuff.
All are representative of polish culture as they are made for a polish and not a global audience.
channel4.com/collection/walter-presents
Paulina 12 | 2,231
19 Jun 2021 #12
Only if one is a equates global to netflix

Why not? It is global - it's available in almost every country on planet Earth... And there are some good TV series on it...

Also you should watch belfer (the teach) s1 which was on tv in australia as well.

Really? That's cool :)
amiga500 2 | 995
19 Jun 2021 #13
And there are some good TV series on it...

The good ones are the ones that Netflix has bought off national broadcasters or a co-production with national broadcasters (like Babylon Berlin.) The two polish and one australian netflix originals have been rubbish because to their standards to cater to a 'global' audience means that all national character and nuance is stripped from the story, apart from a superficial way.

Really? That's cool :)

Yes it was :) we have a multicultural tv station that mainly screens foreign stuff

@Paulina
Actually I hear the third polish netflix series, Sexify, is not too bad youtube.com/watch?v=DDpoRK3dlHQ
Paulina 12 | 2,231
20 Jun 2021 #14
The good ones are the ones that Netflix has bought off (...) or a co-production

So? As long as they're available on Netflix and I can watch them - I don't care :P

all national character and nuance is stripped from the story, apart from a superficial way

I'm not sure what you mean, tbh... I wouldn't say that about some of the TV series that are available on Netflix, like, for example: "Fauda" (Israeli), "The Spy"(French-American, with Sacha Baron Cohen as the main lead), Börü/Wolf (Turkish), "Służby specjalne" directed by Patryk Vega... Also, there are good fantasy and sci-fi TV series where national character doesn't really matter that much (even if it's inspired by some cultures): "The Witcher", "Shadow and Bone" (based on books, of course, like any good stuff, the world seems to be heavily inspired by tsarist Russia among others - pretty unusual and, thus, interesting :)) or those new Star Trek series ("Star Trek: Discovery")...

Actually I just heard the third polish Netflix series, Sexify, is not too bad

Thanks, I'll try to check it out :)

@amiga500, I forgot to ask - what is that multicultural TV station that you mentioned called? I have such a TV channel on cable TV, it's called Ale kino+. It usually shows more ambitious films and TV series from different countries. I've watched there Australian miniseries "Picnic at Hanging Rock" (with Natalie Dormer), for example.
amiga500 2 | 995
21 Jun 2021 #15
I wouldn't say that about some of the TV series that are available on Netflix

Yes all those series are co-productions with national broadcasters and available outside of netflix. Służby specjalne had nothing to do with netflix they just bought it. My point is about netflix 'originals' or exclusives. they are **** in terms of cultural relevance or education about a country, well maybe apart from sexify. ;)

what is that multicultural TV station that you mentioned called?

Its called SBS or Special Broadcasting Service. It was setup in 1980 to cater to Immigrants. Apart from movies and tv series they also have news from all around the world. (they show polsat news wydarzenia in the morning :) )
amiga500 2 | 995
14 Jul 2021 #16
Some great polish series have come out this year. bumper season for poland. up there with the best of the west now.
rojst 97
klangor
rysa
kruk season 2
best free places to watch are fillman.cc and dudeplayer.com


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