Two-part biopic of general Karol Świerczewski who was one of the Communist-era heroes. The movie, which does its best to embellish the controversial general, was produced with the help of the Polish Army and Public Security Committee. Full of half-truths and misrepresentations, the film provides an interesting example of using cinema as a vehicle for propaganda. In this case, it helped promote Stalin’s version of history and create revolutionary legends.
The film was directed by Wanda Jakubowska. A legendary Polish film director and co-founder of prewar film avant-garde movement, Jakubowska was greatly involved in the development of post-war film industry in Poland. Her most renowned work, the movie “Ostatni etap” went down in history of the worldwide cinema as the first movie about concentration camps.
The film boasts an impressive cast, featuring a number of famous actors such as Tadeusz Janczar, Emil Karewicz, Andrzej Łapicki and Józef Nowak, as well as Gustaw Holoubek debuting in the role of Feliks Dzierżyński.
Świerczewski’s life is presented in a series of flashbacks against the backdrop of historical events which led to the victory of communism in Poland.
Part One, Fight
General Karol Świerczewski is heavily wounded in the ambush by an armed group of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Dying, he thinks of his childhood when he took part in his first strike as a boy. He reminisces about the nightmare of the Great War, his involvement in revolutionary organizations fighting against the exploitation of the working class, and the civil war in Spain. Following the invasion of Poland by the Third Reich, Świerczewski found himself in the USSR as one of commanders of the People’s Army (AL).
Part Two, Victory
Red Army and Polish People’s Army (LWP) force Germans out of the occupied territories. The general and his soldiers are welcomed as heroes. The day of victory has come, followed by a daunting challenge of rebuilding a country in ruins. Sadly, enemies of Poland are at work. Imperialist spies infiltrate the general’s milieu, while UPA brigades are at large in the Bieszczady mountains. Świerczewski is assigned a task of restoring order in this territory, but he is killed in an ambush.