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Friday, December 3, 2021

Maciej Wierzyński’s column. About the superiority of Wyspiański over Smarzowski

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Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about Wojciech Smarzowski’s film “Wesele”. For enthusiasts of Smarzowski’s work, it is supposed to be a mirror in which we can see the ugly face of our country and its inhabitants. A bitter but touching truth about Poland and Poles. For those less enthusiastic about the film, it is a collection of stereotypes and clichés on the same subject.

I admit, I left this “Wedding” touched. So much moved that I had my wife watch the film. The theme of “Weddings” is – as Smarzowski himself says – Jews, more specifically Poles and Jews, and the relations of these two nations living under one roof for centuries. Due to the fact that my wife was professionally involved in this subject (she raised money in America for the construction of the “Polin” Museum of the History of Polish Jews), I thought that she should see the film. A few days passed, I had time to think and I was not sure if it was really a movie worth recommending, because you can’t learn anything new from “The Wedding”. Smarzowski repeats what we know.


We know that in the Polish nation, anti-Semitism does not fade away, smolders, and from time to time breaks out. We know that Poles are drinking, we know that they like discopolo, we know that the police are corrupt, we know that the fate of slaughtered animals is terrible in meat factories, we know that people are hypocritical, and the clergy is especially hypocritical, and nationalists are aggressive, self-confident and generally off-putting. We also learn, as if for the sake of balance, that among the Jews there were also those who helped the Germans to drive their own countrymen to their deaths. In general, this film shows something for balance over and over again. This is to prove – I guess – the director’s objectivity.

They are all equally disgusting and probably only the bride (pregnant, of course) retains human qualities and wants to break away from the provincial Polish slurry to Ireland. Thanks to “The Wedding” we also learn that Smarzowski makes the same film on every topic: he specializes in showing horrors and he sticks to it. He added cruelty towards animals to the set of dirty things committed by man, but probably just for the sake of balance, which I mentioned, he shows in his “Wedding” how a huge boar rapes a man.

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I have no illusions about human nature. As for Polish anti-Semitism, too. My doubts are raised as to whether Smarzowski’s “Wesele” refers to “what are we like?” anything new to think about. Especially that the director, borrowing the title and method, authorized us to make comparisons to Wyspiański. Well, Wyspiański it is not. More like Patryk Vega for viewers with high school diploma, the more demanding. There are ghosts, there is even Piłsudski and Dmowski appears. They talk about history and the nation, but it’s hard to remember, because the action of the film does not show that they are important to today’s Poles. Good cars, money and, on top of that, national pride are important to the film’s protagonists.

Meanwhile, in Poland there are people for whom something else is important in life. Judging by how many things I mean in the serious media, Smarzowski should add to the key figures of the Polish nativity scene a specialist in orgasm and a few similar experts on important topics of contemporary, as it is elegantly said, discourse. Without them, the gallery of ridiculous and scary types rummaging with impunity, but with wise faces, in, speaking in contemporary Polish, public space is incomplete. And with Wyspiański it was full. The ridiculousness of your peasantry was confronted with the stupidity and recklessness of Jasek, who lost his golden horn while drunk.

Great art does not spare anyone, and this little one always has favorites, which it leaves alone, applies a reduced tariff to them. In Smarzowski’s case, the Polish people are primitive, drunk and nationalistic, Jews also have their flaws, but I miss the progressive intellectual, Gombrowicz’s Młodziak, or, as in Mrożek’s, the “leftist” from his sketch Charaktery. I would rather use the term “progressive” instead of a leftist, because it is the “progressive” Mrożek who feels rather good … He gives people what they want, what they prefer, what they expect, what they hope for … self-fulfillment, self-realization “.

Well, the not-so-wise Polish intellect praises this new “Wesele” very much, because there is no caricature of it in this “Wesele”. He has already fled from Łomża to Europe, and the rest of the nation stayed in Łomża. She has European cars in this Łomża and she feels good. The intellectual was spared, and Wyspiański spared no one. This is – it seems to me – the superiority of Wyspiański’s “Wesele” over Smarzowski’s “Wesel”.

Maciej Wierzyński – TV journalist, publicist. After the introduction of martial law, he was released from TVP. In 1984 he emigrated to the USA. He was a scholarship holder at Stanford University and Penn State University. He founded the first multi-hour Polish-language Polvision channel on the “Group W” cable television in the USA. In 1992-2000 he was the head of the Polish Voice of America Section in Washington. Since 2000, editor-in-chief of the New York “Nowy Dziennik”. He has been associated with TVN24 since 2005.

Main photo source: TVN24

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