Polish gangster comedy “Krime Story. Love Story”, a story based on true events, described in the book by rapper Marcin “Kala” Gutkowski, has just hit cinemas. The hit movie back in January on Netflix was Maciej Kawulski’s How I Fell in Love with a Gangster. The most viewed items in the world on this platform.
The movie came out a year ago “Bliss. Loves, steals and respects”, an action-comedy film based on the events of the life of Zdzisław Najmrodzki, who was a celebrity in the underworld in the People’s Republic of Poland, who has eluded law enforcement agencies 29 times. The militia gave millions of trophies to his head.
This is the latest. Long to list all items. For years, productions about the mafia and gangsters will appear in Polish cinema and serials. It’s a full color palette: comedy, action movies, drama. Gangsters have fun sometimes, as in the old Olaf Lobazenko movies. Sometimes they are terrifying, as in Krzysztof Krause’s “Religion.” Why does Polish cinema often tell gang stories? This topic has been around since the 90’s.
Recently, a former boxer also decided to take advantage of it Marcin Nejman, who tried to advertise the MMA-VIP 4 concert by showing gangster Andrzej Zieliński under the pseudonym “Słowik”. This is one of the bosses of the Pruszków mafia (he was released last December after paying 200,000 PLN bail), and he was to be the ambassador of the event. He faced intense criticism, especially from sports journalist Krzysztof Stanovsky. After protests from the organization of the concert, the mayor of Fielo was forced to withdraw.
But cinema is a completely different subject, a different reality. Here, the creators have been eagerly looking forward to gangster themes for years. – Because cinema is looking for new content in the old genre – emphasizes the professor. Jacek Dąbała, a media expert from Jagiellonian University, but also co-author of the screenplay for the ’90s cult film “Young Wolves” including. Yaroslav Yakimovich. Today’s TVP star played “Cichy”, a young boy who along with his friends got involved in smuggling on the Polish-German border.
– There are producers who recently launched such ideas into production again, and screen effects are intriguing viewers, so more creators are joining in. Often the trend is a peremptory effect – points out Prof. Hyena. But at the same time, he points out that no way of showing gangsters in the cinema can be considered whitewashing. For most ordinary people, a gangster is a gangster and not a cute teddy bear. For people, the movie is basically entertainment – he argues.
Cinema does not have to be a moral example
ukasz Muszyński, deputy editor-in-chief of Filmweb.pl, also believes that reality should be separated from cinema and that the activities of Marcin Najman and Maciej Kawulski should not be equal to each other. Hiring a criminal to promote a bogus sports event is one thing, and making a movie based on a gangster’s biography is another. Cinema and art in a broader context do not have to be a moral ideal. It must simply be good, Łukasz Muszyński says. – As for the fascination with the underworld among Polish filmmakers, I have the impression that this is not another direction. It has been going on continuously for many years. After all, the gangster movie genre is as old as X Muse — he adds.
Łukasz Adamski, a film critic of TVP and Polish radio, who himself has done several radio shows about gangster films, refers to a historical scheme. – In the 90s, of course, we had Władysław Pasikowski, who created such a character for a romantic gang, chose a security officer for this, a person who had very bad relations at the turn of the 80s and 90s. He did it in the spirit of Jean-Pierre Melville. Bogusław Linda transferred the character of a romantic gangster, Franz Maurer style, to other films, such as “Reich”. Later, there were films that dealt with the topic of secret services, connections with Russians, they were very Polish. Suddenly Patrick Vega appeared. It started with the first “pitbull”, but then went in a completely different direction. But still his gangster is often a psychopath, a man who is still difficult to recognize. Vega didn’t romanticize them either – he explains.
He points out that when Maciej Kawulski appeared in the cinema, he did something that filmmakers in Poland did not do. Nikos in his latest film fits a bit with what Marcin Nejman did when he started working with Słowik. He took the thieves and made him into a figure almost similar to Robin Hood. But on the other hand, she is also played by Sebastian Fabijansky Silvio. He is one of the best gangster characters in Polish cinema. Psychopath, decadent, like that face of a Polish organized crime group. We haven’t even seen such a character in Pasikowski – says Adamski.
Mafia in the crooked mirror
Therefore, in fact, gangster cinema has never left the Polish cinema. – In the twenties and thirties of the last century, it was even more noticeable thanks, for example, to Olaf Lopaszynka, who showed gangsters in a crooked mirror in his comedies such as “Chłopaki nie crying”, “Poranek Kojota” or “E = MC2” as well as Patryk Vega, who specialized in such a cinema in a whole series of her productions. Dawid Muszyński, editor-in-chief of naEkranie.pl, says it’s not always about movies that revolve around them in the mainstream.
But why are Polish filmmakers so fond of this type of story? Because it shows a different, darker and perhaps more attractive side of the reality of our country. Viewers love to watch action movies and enjoy Polish productions of this kind. And David Mucinsky thinks it’s easier to talk about the Mafia. In his opinion, the story of such heroes as Nikoi or Nemru is due to the fact that in our story there are not so many colorful characters whose life would be suitable for a movie. – In addition, their activities coincided with the times of the communes, when everyone who opposed this system in the cinema could be presented as counterparts to Robin Hood. Is this the right direction? In my opinion, no, but it’s also nothing new. Let me just mention two great HBO series called “The Forbidden Empire” that tell stories based on true events or “Sopranos” inspired by novels – David Mucinsky’s List. And the warming of the image of gangsters accompanies world cinema for years.
Although the way it is presented is different – on the one hand there was, for example, Krzysztof Jarzyna from Szczecin, “the chief of all chiefs”, in “Coyote’s Morning”, and on the other hand, Pawik, a gangster-tweetie, played by Bogusław Linda In the “private city”.
– But “Private City” was a movie in general that showed Polish thugs in a specific way. Not as gangsters romantics, but as people who do terrible things that can cut children’s eyes. They started out as petty crooks in nylon sweatpants, just like the character who played Linda. It was such a cheeky gangster who later had to deal with the modern mafia who was already in suits. With persons associated with the Services. It may not have been a technically successful movie, but it showed the Polish gangster’s lack of discretion very well. Nobody wants to recognize the gang in a tracksuit – argues Łukasz Adamski.
According to Łukasz Muszyński, pop culture has always been based on recycling – reconciling archetypes, updating proven ideas and tuning into new eras. – I think the still lively ’90s nostalgia also plays an important role here. Organized crime flourished in Poland, and the entire country lived in a bloody struggle between the gangs of Pruszków and Wołomin. A phenomenon that 30 years ago wiped out young democracy like cancer, from the perspective of a safe day, may seem to many people like an interesting and exciting story — he says.
This makes it popular and profitable for the film industry. Critical success is one thing, but it also attracts – psychology bends – the possibility to talk about people outside the ordinary world, like risk takers in their own way who live in the circle of crime, namely death, fear and imprisonment. For most people, this is a sudden lack of imagination, and maybe even some mental flaws, such as an aversion to a quiet life, like putting everything on a lost criminal card beforehand. Hence al-Ma’mun – because in art – the concern for their lives. This is also the beauty of cinema, such a fairy tale, a story told – explains the media expert from Jagiellonian University.
Not all aspirations are high
That is why the cinema so easily “captures” these gangster stories. As reality shows, it is much more difficult in Poland to find productions similar to the style of, for example, “Blinded by the Lights” and villains performed by Jan Frycz or Robert Więckiewicz than comedic productions with the theme of the mafia or stories from borderline action cinema and gangster film. It’s all about ambition, talent, and financial resources. The “Blinded by the Lights” series mentioned above is undoubtedly the work of artists who have been able to combine pop culture and high art. The final effect is an exciting cinema that is realized on a global scale. Unfortunately, not many Polish film producers have similar aspirations – says Łukasz Muszyński of Filmweb.pl.
– To show the gangsters in a brutal version, without a romantic, biographical or tolerant note, is much more difficult, because you have to find in them some psychological trait, which explains to the viewer why the thieves turned into bandits, and why he lives abnormally. The more complex, unclear or surprising the answer, the better the answer, says the professor. Jacek Dubaca.
– That’s why we have so many gangster villains, let’s say Mateusz Damići in “Furioza”, Andrzej Chyra in “Dług”, Andrzej Grabowski in “Odwręcourtch”, Marek Kondrat in “Rysio” or Marek Perebecko in “Sara”. Just as I mentioned, not all projects reach a wide audience – adds the head of naEkranie.pl, Dawid Muszyński.
But certainly the subject itself will not disappear from the screens. And after the recent successes, there will likely be more of them. The pattern may change. – For example, the Italians in their current series about gangsters (“Suburra”, “Gomorra”) removed the myth of the mafia. We no longer have “gangsters”, but horrific gangs who kill women and children. For whom the word honor doesn’t mean anything anymore – Łukasz Adamski points out. In his opinion, changes were also introduced by Maciej Kawulski. In both films, he tells the story of a gangster, a cool guy, who no longer delves like Pasikowski into the Polish reality of the ’90s – but rather writes it into global pop culture. Like Guy Ritchie or Martin Scorsese. This is the reason why his film is selling so well on the global network Netflix, because it tells about the gangs of pop culture – explains Adamski.
Therefore, experts are sure that Patrick Vega and Maciej Kaulsky may soon have a following. They’re busy themselves – Maciej Kawulski is currently attending “Akademia Pana Kleksa”, and Patryk Vega seems to be trying to shoot his autobiography.
– It’s very likely. Producers react to the opinions of reviewers. Moreover, sometimes they do not want to risk and go with the local flow or some world. What is the problem with writing ten, twenty or thirty scripts about any wide range of gangsters? It is enough to have a utility and an order and the machine starts. However, the direction is the wrong path, because the film has to feed on more than fiction. And it’s worth remembering that it can get boring – the professor argues. Hyena.
– Kino likes stories about “bad boys” who are trying or trying to be noble somewhere, if there were no such ones in real life, they would make them up. This is the case worldwide and there is no indication that this trend will also change in Poland – concludes Dawid Muszyński, editor-in-chief of naEkranie.pl.
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