Unfortunately, there is a belief that Polish viewers do not like horror, fantasy or science fiction films. This is evidenced by the report “Poles on Polish films – opinions of Poles on Polish cinema and their attitudes towards Polish film production”: Poles mainly love comedies and detective stories, as well as thrillers and adventure films. Only 41% like science fiction/fantasy movies. viewers. What’s interesting, because as many as 3.4 million Polish viewers have tuned in to the new “Avatar” so far – Explains to the Wirtualnemedia.pl portal Piotr Nalazek, author of short feature films such as “Beautiful August Night” and “I Know”.
Science Fiction Traditions in Poland
When the director was asked if we lack the tradition of making science fiction films, he replied: – It is difficult to say that we have a tradition of making science fiction films that has been developed over the years. Of course, there were some great science fiction movies, like “Sexmission” or “On the Silver Globe.” Popular science themes are also dealt with in almost all of his films by Piotr Szulkin – “O-bi, o-ba: The End of Civilization”, “War of the Worlds – Next Century” or “Ga, ga. Glory to the Heroes”. The “Pirx pilot test” beat out such masterpiece as “Aliens – 8th Passenger of the Nostromo” at the Trieste Science Fiction Film Festival. However, these are exceptions, only “Seksmisja” made it to the mass viewer.
Dr. Robert Dudziński, a specialist in Polish film and cinematic genre theory, when asked about the science fiction tradition in Polish TV series, says: – This is an interesting issue, because it seems that we have good conditions for such a tradition to develop. Even in the 1960s a whole series of TV shorts were made using this convention – some made by really famous and distinguished artists: Stanisław Lem, Andrzej Wajda and Janusz Majewski. Productions such as Wajda’s “Layer Layer” or Majewski’s “First Pavilion” are distinguished to this day by their interesting format and original content (which is still up to date!). Later, however, this trend clearly faded away (although the adaptation of the novel “Paradizja” by Janusz A.
When the expert was asked about the specific reason why this type did not develop in domestic production, he replied: – Perhaps a combination of several factors played an important role here. A sci-fi series will always be an expensive endeavor that requires certain technical expertise and knowledge to create a coherent and compelling universe on screen. At the same time, television decision makers may have thought that the pool of sci-fi fans among the Polish audience was relatively small, so such a series would not be of interest to a wider audience. In addition, after 1989, the demand for similar products was fully met by American productions. All of this made creating your own sci-fi series seem like a game not worth the candle. It is no coincidence that at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries many science fiction works for children were created, such as “Wow” or “Star Pirate”. The children’s audience might have been thought large enough to make such an undertaking worthwhile, and uncritical enough to pay attention to technical flaws.
Polish filmmakers are certainly very creative, but the question is whether they are interested in making science fiction films at all. When it comes to ideas, we can always rely on science fiction literature, which is found at a high level in Poland. Certainly, it’s not easy to adapt Lim’s books, as authors like Tarkovsky or Soderbergh, who have adapted their versions of Solaris for the screen, have discovered. However, Polish filmmakers have tried to translate Lem into film language – Andrzej Wajda in “Przekladaniec” or Marek Bystrak in the aforementioned “Pirx pilot” did so. I am amazed at the lack of cinematic adaptations of Janusz Zajdel’s dystopian books, which, in my opinion, could be translated into film language at low cost, as Piotr Nalaszek explains.
The future of science fiction in Poland
Today, the entry of large broadcast platforms into the game gives hope that science fiction will be hosted more often in the repertoire of Polish authors who want to combine a well-known convention with local motifs. Perhaps the best example of such an attempt is the “1983” series co-created by Agnieszka Holland, which – although certainly imperfect – stood out from other productions with its aesthetics and an interesting plot concept – emphasizes Dr. Robert Dudzinsky.
Piotr Nalazek also mentioned that: – Recently, as part of the “Polish Legends” series, Tomasz Baginski made several science fiction short films that were well received by viewers. A full-length version of “Twardowsky” was announced a few years ago, but for a long time there was no new information about it, which I regret, because perhaps if the film was successful, the producers would be more willing to come up with such ideas. Budget is definitely an issue – we are not and will not be able to make science fiction on the level of American films. For this reason, Polish science fiction cinema has to find its way in the creative approach that characterizes independent films. However, producers often prefer to limit risks and invest in projects that are more reliable in terms of attendance, such as romantic comedies or detective stories.
When asked about science fiction series, the director summed up: – We don’t have any traditions in this field, we only produced fantasy/adventure series like “Seven Wishes” or the infamous “The Witcher”. That seems to be slowly changing, however, with the 1983 Netflix production, Open Your Eyes, and, more recently, The Girl and the Spaceman. Is this enough? I don’t think so and I hope there will be more of this kind of production. Personally, I would like to see more films and series in genres such as horror or thriller, because Polish viewers deserve diversity and the possibility to choose other products than romantic comedies or crime fiction.
You can find a review of the Netflix series “The Girl and the Astronaut” in our pages.
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