Poland in famous movies
Majority of famous movie locations in Poland are associated with films about Holocaust and World War II.
“Schindler’s List” (1993) – directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg it is based on real-life events and it tells the story of German businessman Oskar Schindler who saved the lives of more than a thousand Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories in Nazi-occupied Poland. Shot on location in Krakow, the movie is believed to be an integral part of the city’s booming tourism. Quite interestingly, Spielberg had originally asked the French-born Polish director, Roman Polanski, who escaped from the Krakow ghetto while still a child, to direct the movie. However Polanski considered it too personal and turned down the offer.
“The Pianist” (2002) – directed by Roman Polanski follows the story of Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman and his struggle to survive in the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII. Many of the scenes in the movie are filmed in the old Praga district of Warsaw where the ghetto wall was built along the streets together with a wooden footbridge connecting its two parts. On the adjacent Zaokopowa Street, a construction site was arranged on the Aryan side of the ghetto, where Szpilman ends up after saving himself from the Umschlagplatz. The scenes of the destruction of Warsaw are considered the most terrifying ever brought to the screen.
“In Darkness” (2011) – directed by Agnieszka Holland it is based on true events during German occupation of Poland (1939-1945). It tells the story of Leopold Socha, a sewer worker in the city of Lvov belonging to Poland at that time. He used his knowledge of the city’s sewage system to shelter a group of Jews who escaped from the Lvov Ghetto during the Holocaust in Poland. Many of the scenes were shot in Lodz.
“The Zookeeper’s Wife” (2017) – directed by Niki Caro it is a war drama telling the true story of how Jan and Antonina Żabinski rescued hundreds of Polish Jews from the Germans by hiding them in their Warsaw Zoo villa. The site of the actual events is Praga district of Warsaw where the Zoo is located.
“The Tin Drum” (1979) – directed by Volker Schlöndorff is a film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Günter Grass. It was mostly shot in Western Germany however many events of the novel are shown in Gdańsk. In 1958, during writing “The Tin Drum” the author visited Gdansk, his hometown, for the first time after the war. During the following years he came to Poland and Gdańsk on many official and informal occasions. Connections with Gdańsk and the writer’s family were very important for him.
“The Magician of Lublin” (1979) – directed by Menahem Golan and based on the novel of the same name by Isaac Bashevis Singer. The action of the film is set in Warsaw and the shtetls of the 1870s. It tells the story of Yasha Mazur, Jewish stage magician, conman and womaniser with mistress in each town, who tours through Eastern Europe experiencing some personal problems destroying his career. He is rarely home in Lublin to see his wife Esther. He claims he will fly if he is given the chance to perform in the most prestigious theatre in Warsaw.