The Song From This War of Mine
#technology & innovation
small, The Song From This War of Mine, Tadeusz Woźniak - High Clockmaster's author, 1970s, photo: Marek Karewicz / East News, wozniak_east_news_12.jpg
This War of Mine, an unusual war game from Polish 11 Bit Studios, made it to the top of virtually every bestseller list at the turn of 2014. However, it is not only the game that caught the interest of thousands of gamers. Its trailer features an uncanny song which entranced countless audiences, who in turn asked countless questions. Who is the Clockmaster? Why is the song so touching, without understanding the words?
'For soldiers the war is about victory… For us, it was about getting food…'
This quote from the game's trailer goes a long way to show that 11 Bit Studio's brainchild is no run-of-the-mill gory war game, which has no doubt been key in its impressive conquest of the gaming world. This (relatively) low-budget production with simple but eye-catching graphics has made it to the top of bestseller lists, where it became an equal rival for high-budget mainstream games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive or Far Cry 4.
Why has it been it so successful? Probably because it is outstandingly idiosyncratic. It's a war game, but its protagonists are average joes trying to survive in a besieged city. Instead of shooting and killing masses of enemies, the player has to guide a group of three civilians through times of supply shortages, despair, moral dilemmas and attacks by looters. There is no easy way out, and every step the protagonists take leaves an imprint on their vulnerable psyches. Even though the graphics are darkly cartoonish, the game aims to be one of the most realistic in history and plunges the player deep into the atmosphere of a ruined city with death lurking around every corner. The emphasis put on the mental and morale aspects of survival results in an unprecedented gaming experience that made This War of Mine an international hit.
The Song From This War of Mine's Trailer
The game was overshadowed only by its theme song, which caught the attention of thousands – first and foremost on YouTube. Hundreds of comments like these appeared in the discussion below the video trailer:
Can someone please tell me what's this song about? I'm mexa and I only know English and Spanish - Maicol Mallers
Whose voice is that??? Why does he sound so familiar? - Missy Kaleidoscopeify
This is why Culture.pl interviewed the author – Tadeusz Woźniak – in order to learn more about the meaning of the song and to acquire the only authorised translation of the lyrics. It goes like this:
A kiedy przyjdzie także po mnie / And when he comes in my direction
Zegarmistrz światła purpurowy / The high Clockmaster walking steady
By mi zabełtać błękit w głowie / I'll give my life to his protection
To będę jasny i gotowy / To face a future bright and ready
Spłyną przeze mnie dni na przestrzał / The days are running through my body
Zgasną podłogi i powietrza / With ground and air fading away
Na wszystko jeszcze raz popatrzę / I'll take a long last look for always
I pójdę nie wiem gdzie - na zawsze / To go I don't know where to darkness
The song first came out in Poland in 1972. Tadeusz Woźniak describes it as a straightforward description of a specific emotional state, as a metaphor for passing away, of acceptance of the fleeting character of life. Finding out why Bogdan Chorążuk (the author of the lyrics) and Tadeusz Woźniak decided to go for the symbol of a Clockmaster is fascinating. In the Polish version (which differs slightly from the translation into English) the Clockmaster wears purple, which usually coincides with royalty or a judge’s court dress, leading us to think of the biblical Judgement Day.
More than that, given that Bogdan Chorążuk is a philosopher, he might have been inspired by Voltaire, who said: ‘I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker’. Last but not least, a Clockmaster or Clockmaker is one who sets all the clocks but also the one who stops them. The Clockmaster represents some sort of greater force, a god or fate, one that rules life, death and time.
this war of mine
polish computer games
The song became an instant hit back in the time of its creation and still holds top rank in the popular Polish National Radio Programme’s 3 ‘Top of All Times’ list. The instinctively present message on the subject of death has been strong enough to make the High Clockmaster one of the most recognizable evergreens of Polish popular music. The fact that it moved people who don’t know a word of Polish speaks for itself – this is a piece of songwriting made of pure emotion.
Author: Wojciech Oleksiak, based on Weronika Kostyrko's interview with Tadeusz Woźniak from December 2014. January 8th 2015