Potop (The Deluge) - A film by Jerzy Hoffman
A Romanticized view of the Swedish Invasion
by Peter K. Gessner
Based on the most spectacular part of Siekiewicz's Trilogy, The Deluge was adapted to the screen by Jerzy Hoffman in the spirit of traditional interpretation of the work to "brace the heart," stressing the internal transformation of the chief protagonist, Andrzej Kmicica, from adventurer and chieftain to an exemplar of courage and patriotism. The film's cast encompassed all the major actors of the Polish cinema. Almost four hundred actors appeared in primary and secondary roles and thousands of extras took part. The creation of the film was one of the largest productions in the history of the contemporary Polish cinema. The film represents the third time that Sienkiewicz's story has been brought to the screen - the first was made in 1912, the second in 1915. The screenplay was worked on by Jerzy Homman, Adam Kersten and Wojciech Zurkowski and whole platoons of scholars were consulted regarding the historical scenes. Large parts of the film were shot in the Soviet Union, in the environs of Minsk they built Wodokty, Wolmontowicza and Lubicz, and many of the battle scenes were filmed near Kiev, in the basin of the Dniepr River. Twenty three thousand costumes and thousands of artifacts were procured. A huge clumbrine cannon, an an 18-pounder with serpent-shaped handles, was cast in Eblong's Zamech works. The 1974 film, which was shot with one camera and one lense, established an all-time Polish box-office record with 25 million admissions and went on to win an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Feature
The years 1656-1660 were the time of the Swedish invasion of Poland. Andrzej Kmicic, a cadet officer and the fiancee of Oleńka Billewiczówna, at first sides with the potent magnate family of the Radziwi³³ who are collaborating with the Swedes. Considered by the nobles and his fiancee as a traitor, he begins to understand, too late, that the Radziwi³³s have at heart not the good of the fatherland, but their own self interests, among them the gaining of the Polish throne. Kmicic kidnaps prince Boguslaw Radziwi³³ so as to bring the traitor before the King Jan Kazimierz and thus redeem himself. But Bogus³aw wounds him severely and escapes.
Being restored to health, Andrzej Kmicic jurneys with Soroka and Kiemlicz, under the assumed name of Babnicz, to Czestochowa. He takes part in the defense of the monastery of Jasna Góra against the Swedish siege. He is taken prisoner, but escapes and manages to reach Silesia, an area of the Czech Kingdom where the Polish King, Jan Kazimierz, has taken refuge. He is almost killed defending the monarch in a battle that takes place in a narrow valley. He confesses tothe King his past, reveals his real name, and becomes rehabilitated. Now, commanding a royal troop, he takes part in several battles with the Swedes. In the battle near Prostkami he fight a duel with Prince Bogus³aw and takes him prisoner. Severely wounded in a subsequent battle, he wishes to die in familiar surroundings. The sight of the beloved Oleńka gives him strength and a desire to live. Only now the young woman learns that she loves a hero and not a traitor.
The film is based on Nobel prizewinner Henryk Sienkiewicz's epic historical novel The Deluge which in turn represents a romantic charterization of the events of the Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655.
Part of the material on this page is based on an English translation of Film Polski's Polish language web page about the film.
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