Traditional Polish Dragon Legend Retold in Short Sci-Fi Movie
small, Traditional Polish Dragon Legend Retold in Short Sci-Fi Movie, Still from Tomasz Bagiński's Dragon. Photo: Platige Image Studio, baginski-smok-5.jpg
Oscar-nominated director Tomasz Bagiński's new production Dragon is a modern sci-fi take on a traditional Polish tale about the Wawel dragon that, according to legend, terrorised Kraków ages ago. It is part of a series meant to present several classic Polish folk tales in an up-to-date fashion.
Legend has it that ages ago an evil dragon terrorised the city of Kraków. It dwelled in a cave on Wawel Hill and kept devouring the citizens’ livestock. Sometimes it would even kidnap and some of the townsfolk. Thankfully, the bloodthirsty beast was eventually put to death by a young, cunning shoemaker. In reward, the clever dragon slayer was wedded to the daughter of Prince Krak, the ruler of the city and its vicinity. This tale of the Wawel dragon, as is often is the case with traditional legends, has a number of versions, and its latest and most fashionable incarnation is a short movie by Oscar-nominated Polish director Tomasz Bagiński.
Tomasz Bagiński is probably best-known for his 2002 short film The Cathedral. In this movie, based on a short story by the acclaimed Polish sci-fi writer Jacek Dukaj, a solitary person visits a mysterious cathedral that comes to life. Bagiński has also directed the BAFTA-winning animated short Fallen Art and the short film Ambition, which features Games of Thrones actor Aiden Gillen. Recently a fresh motion picture by the Pole, the aforementioned new rendition of the legend of the Wawel dragon, was posted online for public viewing (English subtitles provided). Entitled Dragon, this short film is a modern sci-fi take on the traditional tale. In this movie, instead of a dragon we get a mighty futuristic aircraft manned by a creepy, military-looking thug named Adolf Kamchatkov. He’s not so much interested in livestock as he is in kidnapping attractive women. As a consequence of his wrongdoings he’ll have to face the anger of a young, bright builder of robots named Janek. As you can imagine Janek will try to neutralize Kamchatkov with something a little different than a dummy filled with sulphur. The film is set in modern-day Kraków and features impressive digital effects. The cast includes Tomasz Włosok as Janek, Vanessa Aleksander as Ola, Janek’s sweetheart, and the renowned Jerzy Stuhr. The role of Kamchatkov is played by the Danish actor and ex-bodybuilder Kim Kold.
Dragon is only the first of several classic Polish legends to be remade in sci-fi fashion. Simply named Polish Legends, it was initiated by the auction website Allegro and includes the Polish conglomerate Platige Image. The project, which premiered on November 30, encompasses two short films and six short stories. Each of the stories rewrites one traditional Polish legend, e.g. the tale of the sleeping knights. The stories for the retelling project were all written by talented Polish authors, for instance Elżbieta Cherezińska or Łukasz Orbitowski, and can be downloaded online free of charge. The second film made as part of Polish Legends, entitled Twardowsky, is to premiere online on December 15. Similarly to Dragon, it was directed by Bagiński and is a sci-fi short. This upcoming movie is a rendition of the tale of Sir Twardowski, who, according to legend, in distant times made a pact with the devil. In this motion picture, the titular character is stranded alone in a lunar space base until an unexpected visitor arrives. Bagiński is also working on a Polish-American co-produced feature film about the Witcher set to premiere in 2017.
polish fairy tales
Author: Marek Kępa, Autumn 2015