Polish National Cinema

Polish National Cinema

Polish National Cinema

Polish National Cinema


In the years since World War II, Poland has developed one of Europe's most distinguished film cultures. However, in spite of the importance of Polish cinema this is a domain in need of systematic study.

This book is the first comprehensive study of Polish cinema from the end of the 19th century to the present. It provides not only an introduction to Polish cinema within a socio-political and economic context, but also to the complexities of East-Central European cinema and politics.

Marek Haltof is Assistant Professor in Film in the English Department at Northern Michigan University. He published Peter Weir: When Cultures Collide (1996) and three books on cinema in Polish, including Australian Cinema: On the Screen Construction of Australia (1996) and Author and Art Cinema: The Case of Paul Cox (2001). He is also the author of two novels published in Poland.


Over the last several years, I have developed an academic interest in Polish film and media. Being a native of Poland (now living in the United States), this was a natural evolution: Polish cinema is a part of my cultural background and university education. Despite the importance of Polish cinema, there are only two books in English dealing with its history: Bolesław Michałek and Frank Turaj's The Modern Cinema of Poland, and Frank Bren's World Cinema 1: Poland. There are also books focusing on narrower topics, for example, on celebrated filmmakers from Poland, such as Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Kieślowski, and on the most recent (post-1989) trends in the Polish “cinema in transition.”

This volume provides the first comprehensive study of the Polish national cinema from its beginnings to the year 2000. It reexamines, from a contemporary perspective, vital issues in the history of Polish cinema such as the Polish School phenomenon. The book discusses neglected problems, including screen representation of the Stalinist years, and incorporates a discussion on cinema industry practices in Poland. Although it employs a chronological framework in the first eight chapters, this book does not purport to be a typical historical study of the development of Polish film. Instead, it deals with characteristic features and elements, recognized locally and internationally as distinctively Polish—what one might call a recognizable “national accent.” The focus is on full-length narrative films, although the book occasionally comments on Polish television films, documentaries, and animated films.

To write on Polish cinema is not an easy task. One has to take into account the specificity of Poland's history; the different stages of development of Polish cinema are usually related to changing political situations in Poland. From this perspective, it is feasible to distinguish films made in the Polish territories during the absence of the Polish state (before 1918), the cinema of interwar Poland (1918–1939), the cinema of communist Poland (1945–1989), and films made after the return of democracy in 1989. It is also necessary to take into account Poland's borders, which have changed throughout history. After the three partitions (in 1772, 1793, and 1795), Poland was wiped off the map in 1795 and divided among its three powerful neighbors, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, until the end of World War I. Polish films thus reflect the history of a land in which national insurrections resulted in military defeat, the presence of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.