An Animated History Of Poland - Tomasz Bagiński
Bagiński's film squeezes the most momentous events in Polish history into a thrilling eight-minute animated film that combine fact and legend in the most dynamic technology. The film premiered last year at the Shanghai EXPO and has been widely screened on the Internet. In April 2011, the picture debuted in its 3D version.
The most watched Polish film of 2010 is not even listed in the official filmography of its author. The producer never intended to screen it to Polish viewers. The motion picture in question is An Animated History of Poland, screened at the Polish Pavilion at the Shanghai EXPO 2010.
The film - or to use the Platige Image studio's own terminology - "the special project" has already been viewed by an estimated 8 million people who visited the Polish display. Another million viewers came from all four corners of the earth and watched Bagiński's masterpiece on youtube.com, among other websites.
In his pressbook, Tomasz Bagiński poses the question: 'Do viewers who might see this film actually want a lesson in history? Or perhaps a fact sheet?' He is then quick to reply: 'Not at all. Viewers want thrills. Surprises. To travel to a different world. To be awed by images and music. Emotions. Even if they desire knowledge, then they most likely want an inside view into the Polish nation and to find out about what differs our country from others'.
For these reasons, the eight-minute film is not a dull lecture listing key dates and events. It is a dynamic story, told in a manner similar to that of a fantasy film (Bagiński and Platige Image have also animated the computer game The Witcher, taking their cue from facts which are indicated by a date placed in the top right-hand corner of the screen to expound on historical processes - construction, war, destruction, and restoration.
The filmmakers did not include every important date, neither did they mention all significant characters - a closer analysis may in fact cause outrage among cultural commentators, some of whom have already accused An Animated History of Poland of excluding many women significant to Poland's history and even of omitting a key event traditionally highlighted in Polish history, the Swedish 'Deluge' (1655-1660), which entailed the speeding up of the first Polish coronation by 25 years (in the year 1000 the German Emperor Otto III presented a crown to Bolesław Chrobry, while the actual coronation took place in 1025). These inaccuracies explain the producers' initial apprehension to release the film in Poland.
But the problem did not lie in historical accuracy alone. The film skillfully depicts how dynamically Polish history developed, it also stresses the significance of intellectual values - from Copernicus to Mickiewicz - but most importantly, it uses a very precise, clear, figurative style. For instance, the issue of Partitions of Poland was depicted as being an effect of a game between neighbouring countries and experienced by the Poles as an earthquake. There are numerous similar solutions used in the film and the eight-minute presentation ends with a large theatre stage being filled with all the characters depicted in the film - nearly nine hundred of them. They are the participants of a continually developing process - one that is ongoing.
Could any more have been shown in eight minutes? asks a critic writing for the monthly magazine Kino (no. 5 / 2010). She goes on to suggest that, Perhaps, but 'An Animated history of Poland' is at the same time a lesson in contemporary animation, full of breathtaking scenes and high quality artistic solutions.
Two versions of the film were created, a 2D version that is widely available on the Internet and a 3D version which was screened in selected cinemas in Poland in April 2011.
- An Animated history of Poland / Animowana historia Polski, Poland 2010. Written and directed by: Tomasz Bagiński, historical consultant: professor Henryk Samsonowicz, music: Adam Skorupa, Krzysztof Wierzynkiewicz. commissioned by the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development. Duration: 8mins. First screened: May 1, 2010, Shanghai - during the Polish World Exhibition during EXPO 2010. Released by the 5D Extreme Cinema on April 8, 2011.
Author: Konrad J. Zarębski, April 2011