Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pan Tadeusz

How do you fancy watching a sweeping Regency epic, full of dashing officers, handsome counts and ladies dressed in the height of Empire fashion? Set against a backdrop of castles, country houses and glorious, rolling countryside?

The film of the epic story in verse, Pan Tadeusz (trans: Sir Thaddeus), written by Adam Mickiewicz and first published in 1834, is set among the Polish nobility in 1811-12. It is one of the most widely-read pieces of Polish literature, studied in schools and Mickiewicz is regarded as one of European literature's greatest poets, as we might regard Shakespeare. The 1999 film by noted director Andrej Wadja, is available on DVD with English subtitles.

Ah, sometimes research can be hard work, but watching the film of Pan Tadeusz was a delight and I'd recommend it to any fans of the period. Wadja paints a sweeping canvas, and in fact the film won awards for its cinematography. In 1811, many in the Polish nobility are waiting in hope that Napoleon is on his way to liberate them (Poland was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at this time) on his way to Russia.

In the meantime, this does not prevent them squabbling among themselves, as two families revive an old feud over land. The story combines tragedy and comedy. And there is love on the horizon in the form of a budding romance between the dashing Pan Tadeusz and Zosia, daughter of the other noble family. Will love heal the feud between the families?

Kate Allan

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