War is a nightmare, a catastrophe, a tragic end of life of many beings and the whole environment. World history and national stories always emphasize the dark side of the war – hundreds and thousands of victims, cruel fights on the battlefields, use of military force, the sacrifice of people, the martyrology of country, the shed blood for a good cause, etc… The war is the world of death. May it have a bright side of life at all? Some of images from the movies presented below may induce us to give a positive answer. The historical footage was recorded during the World War II in Poland.
Warsaw Uprising is a 87-minute film, directed by Jan Komasa and produced by the Warsaw Rising Museum and the Polish Film Institute. It is probably the world’s first war documentary film made entirely from historical footage. It uses authentic newsreels filmed in August of 1944. Applying modern technology of restoring, colorization and expertise of speech readers and ensuring the co-operation of the best artists, the film shows the Warsaw Uprising in a touching way and with unparalleled realism.
The movie’s plot tells the story of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 through the eyes of an US airman, escaper from the Nazi Stalag camp and two young reporters, cameramen for the Bureau of Information and Propaganda of the Polish Home Army. Their mission: documenting the uprising by shooting newsreels for the “Palladium” cinema. Looking for the right shots, they go deeper and deeper, literally and figuratively, into the heart of the uprising. Aware of being witnesses of indescribable events, they realize their duties: to document them and preserve the rolls of film at any cost.
Everything we see on the screen: everyday life, joy, tears and death, really happened. Weddings, funerals, innocent courtship and joyful bathing in the river, singing, praying, laughing, killing, passing – everything was happening simultaneously, in the shadow of falling bombs. For me these are the most powerful images. Regardless of the time and circumstances, we share the same desires: we want to live, we want to love, we want to be happy and to ensure the safety and health of our closest.
“Traces. About Memory” – The Camera
The Camera is a short film presented as a part of the exhibition “Traces. About Memory” in the Warsaw Rising Museum. Fragments of historical footage from the collections of the museum and the National Film Archive were used by Natalia Jakubowska and Łukasz Gronowski to direct and film stories of five unique objects from the time of Warsaw Uprising. Black-and-white film plots are based on real events related to them. Some facts were omitted in order to build an emotional and moving story. One of the selected artefacts is a camera Ciné-Kodak Eight model 25 with the reel of 8mm film.
The camera has been brought by Tadeusz Rowiński from Vienna, where he studied at the Vienna School of Economics. Filming was his hobby. The reel of 8mm film with the 54-minute documentary film from the occupation time and Warsaw Uprising 1944 was donated to the Warsaw Rising Museum as deposit by the sons of the camera owner in 2009. The camera itself was donated as a gift in 2008.
The Camera short film, filmed using the original 54-minute documentary, is built on the contrast of the terror of war and the peaceful atmosphere of warm summer days during occupation. Among the rubble, fragments of furniture and structural elements of a building split in half by a bomb, people are trying to reach the residents with help. They are transporting battered bodies on stretchers. However, the first minutes of the movie are images full of sun, smiling faces, happy dogs, children playing, carelessness fun in water. Bombs will fall in a while. Together with the narrator and the people from the images we experience probably their last enjoyable moments of that summer…
A frame from The Camera – filmed using the original 54-minute footage