The Bilicki Report: An extraordinary biography, just the right movie

It goes without saying that such a long wait for a film about such an extraordinary character as Vitold Bielecki is something of a scandal. It is also axiomatic to say that the Americans or the British, who have in their heroes a man with such an extraordinary biography, will make dozens of films and series about him. Over the course of 30 years (when you can talk about starring as Captain Uncensored), we’ve had two productions about him. Except for the short film “Captain Bilicky” (2022) by Miłosz Kozio, a fictional documentary featured “Biliki” (2016) by Miroslav Krzyszkowski and TV staging directed by Ryszard Bogajski Death of Captain Bilicki.

It seems that a budget of 36 million dollars, Wytwórnia Filmów Fabularnych i Dokumentowych, which produced the film, and strong support from the state (Polish National Institution, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage) would give an opportunity for an epic work on one of our most important works. Polish heroes. But my hopes melted with every new piece of information about production disruptions. Incidentally, the squabbles surrounding this production fit into Hollywood stories about wars between producers and directors. It is a pity that the level of the movie itself is no longer Hollywood.

The pandemic, the death of producer Włodzimierz Niderhaus, and finally the dismissal of director Leszek Wosiewicz, who had been working on the script since 2014 – all this happened within 5 years of the first slap on the set. “Bilecki Report”. I don’t know the details of Fusewitch’s release. We’ll never see his version of the film, which was allegedly accused of a “narrative and dramatic disaster” at a screening. Finally, the project was commissioned Krzysztof Lukaszewicz. Solid War Manager “Eagles. Grodno ’39” He modified Wosiewicz’s script and edited the rest of the photos. The feud between the “Kornblomenblau” director and the studio is likely to drag on for a long time. I won’t go into it here, but it’s not to be missed when reviewing this movie. Hiring a new director during the film’s production, who rewrites the script and has to marry his artistic sensibility with the vision of a sacked creator under time pressure, had to go a long way to the final effect.

“The Bilecki Report” is a stitched film, though Łukaszewicz manages to piece the drama together into a logical whole. This doesn’t change the fact that seams are sometimes very visible. Łukaszewicz has made a movie just right, and you can’t see a big budget in it against Polish conditions. It’s a good craftsman on a small budget “accept” He made a good war drama, and in “The Eagles…” he proved uninterested in the sugary, one-dimensional pathos of the national cinema. The Bilicki Report is not an educational movie about a flawless hero, but the most interesting thing about Bilicki’s tears is the point.

One of the interesting tricks in the script is the juxtaposition between Bilecki (Przemyslaw Wisinski) and Josef Sirankiewicz (Paul Paprocki). They were both in Auschwitz. The first was the resistance movement. The latter became the sole face of resistance in the German camp in the Polish People’s Republic. They both stood on either side of the barricade after the surrender of Nazi Germany. In the film, the communist prime minister wants to bury the memory of Bilecki’s heroism at all costs in order to portray himself as the only Polish hero in the German camp hell. This is the basis for the racist script in the spirit of Hollywood. There is a strong struggle with alpha males. There is a clear thread of conflict between the siblings. There is betrayal and there is sacrifice. It is a symbol of freedom and enslavement. There Poland is fighting and Poland has been sold to the occupier. Bielecki’s biography is extraordinary and its thorough comprehension requires a 10-hour series, so in a two-hour film the theme of the duel between two representatives of the history of our country, shattered by history, is perfect.

Unfortunately, all this is not commensurate with the expected power. The temperature of the conflict between Cyrankiewicz and Pilecki is tepid, and a viewer unfamiliar with Polish history (after all, this film is supposed to popularize Pilecki among the mass audience) may not feel why the Communists hate Pilecki so much and intend to kill him. . Yes, the captain’s report, demanded by the secret police, is the leitmotif in Bilecki’s interrogation and death sentence, but the secret of the report is obscure here. Wyszyński and Paprocki try to differentiate their roles, but in the end they play on the same note. The first is a symbol of nobility and steadfastness removed from the bronze monument, while the second is a demon incarnate.

The picturesque and poignant scenes of Bilecki’s torture in a communist prison seem to be taken from a completely different film and stylistically do not intertwine with flashbacks to the most important moments of Bilecki’s life and struggle. While the brutal scenes (a memorable shot of a child slamming into a wall) from Auschwitz, which were supposed to be very important to Vucevic, are consistent with the slaughterhouse during UB interrogations, the clips containing scenes from Bielecki’s life before the war, participation in the September campaign, Or Warszawski’s uprising, or the plot of his fight to save his wife Maria (Polina Czapcow) isn’t very telling and readable at times.

Nevertheless, the “Bilecki Report” is viewed without much pain. Excellent cinematographer Arik Tomiak, who, by the way, is an expert in saving patriotic blockbusters (he shot the best scene in “Legions”), gives an ominous darkness to the targets of the secret police, while the music of Michal Lorenc, the distinguished composer who rarely composes for cinema It raises emotions and gives the story a sublime character. It is all the more unfortunate that instead of a drama of a historical figure, we did not get the story of a man of flesh and blood – someone who, in the name of principles, sacrificed everything that was most important to him for the sake of Poland. What could he feel? Did he regret not choosing happiness with his family? We see him leave his wife twice in the movie. Pregnant at first, then (not entirely willingly!) carries out the order to Auschwitz. To what extent did Thomas Kempis help him and his imitation of Christ? Did he regret even for a moment that he did not choose his family to testify? We know the facts about Bieliki’s history. As for cinema, it must penetrate the souls of well-known personalities from the pages of history. Even at the cost of pretending to touch the sacred.

So we have to wait for the next production about Pilecki, which was shot by the producers of “1917”, “Spectre” and “Extremely Loud, Incredible Close” by Jane Ann Tengren. Co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, “Enamy of the State” (total budget is an impressive $227 million!) will tell the story of Bilecki’s organization of the resistance movement in Auschwitz. The starting point is the same as that shown in the movie “The Bilecki Report”, which will be shown on screens on the first of September. It remains to believe that the greatness of this complex (and not so huge) figure will be revealed this time. So we are back to the starting point. We are still waiting for a great movie about our great hero. There are things that don’t change in this world.


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