HISTORY IN MOVING PICTURES

History in moving pictures

The education cycle called History in moving pictures is an attempt at showing interesting – often crucial – moments in Poland’s history in the form of film- animated paintings, examples of some of the masterpieces of Polish historical painting.

The most renowned Polish painter of the style called historicism was Jan Matejko – creator of such works as Battle of Grunwald, Prussian Homage, Rejtan or finally Batory at Pskov. The secret of the artist’s popularity is not only the masterful execution of his works but rather the cinematic quality of presenting history. The paintings are filled with emotions. The artist is set apart by his proclivity for composing crowded, multi-figured scenes, often developed panoramically as well as a tremendous range of expression (sometimes bordering on pathos), excellent dramatic effect both in entire scene composition as in the rendering of postures and gestures of individual figures, dynamism of contour line, striking and intense color and most significantly the ability to create figures possessing extraordinarily clear, expressive physiognomic and psychological features.

Matejko’s paintings continue to offer great opportunities for adaptation and may be the basis for attempts at creating filmed reconstructions of the events he painted. However, our goal is not the mechanical regeneration of situations painted by Matejko. It is rather the pretext for telling the viewer the story of what happened earlier, in what historical and social context the figures on the painting live and what conflicts torment the characters depicted. It is as if we are given the opportunity to get to know them, to listen and find out about their private lives as well as the political situation in Poland just prior to the moment when all the characters were frozen in the cage of time and the frame of the work of Master Jan Matejko. An educational film in this form, one which explores issues of the history of Poland, can be an excellent tool for making history lessons more appealing,  may lead to a better understanding of historical issues and be a catalyst for discussion.

In 2016, the Documentary and Feature Film Studio completed work on adapting to film a series of paintings by Jan Matejko. These shorts were created by eminent Polish filmmakers. Marek Brodzki directed and wrote the screenplays, Arek Tomiak was responsible for cinematography, Marek Warszewski was the set designer, costumes were prepared by Katarzyna Lewińska, Wojciech Janas was editor.

The educational series History in Moving Pictures was possible with financial support from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.