05 febrero 2011

Jerzy Passendorfer - Zamach (1959)

Polaco/Polisih | Subs: Castellano/English/French/German/Polish .srt
93 min | XviD 640x368 | 1202 kb/s | 448 kb/s Ac3 | 23.97 fps
891 MB


Zamach es un thriller ambientado en la Polonia ocupada de la segunda guerra mundial y que trata sobre el asesinato del famoso criminal de guerra nazi, Franz Kutschera, conocido como "El verdugo de Varsovia". La película logró no sólo éxito a nivel interno, sino que también éxito internacional, en los países que habían luchado contra el fascismo.


Answer to Violence is a wartime thriller based on the famous assassination of Nazi war criminal Franz Kutschera, the SS and Police Commander for the District of Warsaw, by the Polish Home Army (AK) on 1 February 1944. Dubbed "the torturer of Warsaw" for ordering a series of mass executions, his death triggered immediate retaliation by the German occupier in which 100 innocent hostages were shot. But the assassination strengthened the spirits of fellow countrymen and rekindled their hopes for victory. The film gained not only domestic recognition but also international renown in countries which also had fought against fascism.


Directed by Jerzy Passendorfer (1923-2003) and based on an original script by Jerzy Stefan Stawinski, Answer to Violence was filmed in 1958 and premiered in Warsaw on 12 January 1959. To date, the film has been seen by over 3.8 million viewers in Polish cinema and millions more via TV screenings, and is one of the most popular domestically produced war films. Its attraction is due to the swift action-dominated plot and the skillful realisation of the work, as well as the glorification of the legend of the Home Army. The theme was not only a symbol of the struggle against the invader but also an expression of the pro-Western aspirations of Poland, including resistance against annexing Poland into the Soviet sphere of influence and forcefully instituting a communist regime. Because it was so esteemed by most Poles, the Home Army was persecuted by the security apparatus and its exploits were ignored or minimised by authorities of the People's Republic of Poland (PRL) after the war. (In 2001, the director Wojciech Wojcik explored this theme in his "There and Back"). The result was that every well-filmed work favourable to the AK - even if, as in the case of "Answer to Violence", its name was never even mentioned - elicited an overwhelmingly positive response from society. In 1978, the successful formula was repeated with Operation Arsenal created by Jan Lomnicki, about the rescue from the Gestapo of the fighter Jan Bytnar (alias "Redhead" [Rudy]).

Passendorfer debuted in 1957 with a virtually unnoticed film, Treasure of Captain Martens and specialised in war epics; he also helmed Heading for Berlin - the Last Days (1969) about the Polish First Army entering Berlin together with the Red Army. While Answer to Violence was much better received by the audience than by domestic critics, it gained significant international recognition. It was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize (International Federation of Film Critics) during the Seventh San Sebastian International Film Festival in 1959 and the Gold Medal during the First International Resistance Movies Festival in the Italian city of Cuneo in 1963.

Historical background

The execution of "the torturer of Warsaw" was carried out under the code-name "Operation Kutschera" after he was sentenced to death by the high command of the Home Army in agreement with the Polish government-in-exile based in London. The hated Nazi, who was a brigadier general, assumed the post of SS and Police Commander for the Warsaw District on 25 September 1943. He became a fanatical advocate of a decree promulgated a few days later by the governor-general of occupied Poland, Hans Frank, calling for swift executions of Poles guilty of "hampering or interrupting" the "German work of reconstruction". Death sentences were to be handed out to both "perpetrators" and "instigators and adjuncts," and acts intended were to be punished with the same severity as acts committed - immediate execution. In his zeal to carry out the orders, Kutschera brought terror to Warsaw on a massive scale. The Nazis organised street raids and held public mass executions as well as secret killings behind the walls of the burnt-down ghetto between October 1943 and 15 February 1944 (the date of the last execution) which claimed the lives of over 5000 men and women. The pink (annoucements) containing the names of the victims terrorized the inhabitants of Warsaw. Only Kutschera's offical title - "SS and Police Commander for the Warsaw District" - was given on lists; his name was never disclosed. Kutschera's identity was discovered almost by accident through the work of Warrant Officer Aleksander Kunicki ("Rayski"), head of the "Agat" intelligence unti. "Agat" - later called "Pegasus" - was a special divison of the Subversion Supervision branch of the Home Army or AK, established to eliminate high-ranking officers of the Nazi apparatus of terror. In surveillance that later proved valuable while planning and carrying out the assassination, "Rayski" and his men closely monitored the unidentified target's dailt trips in an Opel Admiral from his house at 2 Roses Alley to work at SS and Police Headquarters in the Warsaw District on Ujadowskie Avenue. The SS man had a fairly short distance to cover, just a few hundred meters, dotted with German patrols. An agent of the "Zak" Criminal Police determined that the man under observation was called Franz Kutschera. "Rayski" was provided with a photo of the general by Zygmunt Kaczynski ("Merry"), an undercover intelligence officer at the E. Wedel chocolate factory. "Rayski" shared his key findings with his superiors, and a few days later the assassination orders were handed down. The assailants were aware of the fact that the attack had to be carried out in the city centre, in broad daylight, rapidly and in difficult conditions. The operation was coordinated by the Pegasus First Platoon commander, Bronislaw Pietraszewicz ("Flight"). The first attempt on 28 January 1944 was unsuccessful: the assailants waited in vain for Kutschera's car to appear. To make matters worse, as the would-be assailants were parting, a passing German patrol shot one of them. The second attempt was made four days later, on 1 February. Between 9 and 9:15 am in front of SS Head Office, a stolen Adler Triumph Junior car driven by Michael Issajewicz ("Bear") blocked the Opel Admiral limousine with Kutschera inside. Its driver flashed a yellow signal and tried to drive around the obstacle, but "Bear" blocked its passage once again. "Flight" and Zdzislaw Poradzki ("Tiny Tot") ran up to the Opel and seriously injured Kutschera with shots fired from one meter away. "Bear" finished him off as he jumped out of the Adler. Four assailants died in the attack.

Answer to Violence is a wartime thriller based on the famous assassination of Nazi war criminal Franz Kutschera, the SS and Police Commander for the District of Warsaw, by the Polish Home Army (AK) on 1 February 1944. Dubbed "the torturer of Warsaw" for ordering a series of mass executions, his death triggered immediate retaliation by the German occupier in which 100 innocent hostages were shot. But the assassination strengthened the spirits of fellow countrymen and rekindled their hopes for victory. The film gained not only domestic recognition but also international renown in countries which also had fought against fascism.

Directed by Jerzy Passendorfer (1923-2003) and based on an original script by Jerzy Stefan Stawinski, Answer to Violence was filmed in 1958 and premiered in Warsaw on 12 January 1959. To date, the film has been seen by over 3.8 million viewers in Polish cinema and millions more via TV screenings, and is one of the most popular domestically produced war films. Its attraction is due to the swift action-dominated plot and the skillful realisation of the work, as well as the glorification of the legend of the Home Army. The theme was not only a symbol of the struggle against the invader but also an expression of the pro-Western aspirations of Poland, including resistance against annexing Poland into the Soviet sphere of influence and forcefully instituting a communist regime. Because it was so esteemed by most Poles, the Home Army was persecuted by the security apparatus and its exploits were ignored or minimised by authorities of the People's Republic of Poland (PRL) after the war. (In 2001, the director Wojciech Wojcik explored this theme in his "There and Back"). The result was that every well-filmed work favourable to the AK - even if, as in the case of "Answer to Violence", its name was never even mentioned - elicited an overwhelmingly positive response from society. In 1978, the successful formula was repeated with Operation Arsenal created by Jan Lomnicki, about the rescue from the Gestapo of the fighter Jan Bytnar (alias "Redhead" [Rudy]).

Passendorfer debuted in 1957 with a virtually unnoticed film, Treasure of Captain Martens and specialised in war epics; he also helmed Heading for Berlin - the Last Days (1969) about the Polish First Army entering Berlin together with the Red Army. While Answer to Violence was much better received by the audience than by domestic critics, it gained significant international recognition. It was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize (International Federation of Film Critics) during the Seventh San Sebastian International Film Festival in 1959 and the Gold Medal during the First International Resistance Movies Festival in the Italian city of Cuneo in 1963.

Historical background

The execution of "the torturer of Warsaw" was carried out under the code-name "Operation Kutschera" after he was sentenced to death by the high command of the Home Army in agreement with the Polish government-in-exile based in London. The hated Nazi, who was a brigadier general, assumed the post of SS and Police Commander for the Warsaw District on 25 September 1943. He became a fanatical advocate of a decree promulgated a few days later by the governor-general of occupied Poland, Hans Frank, calling for swift executions of Poles guilty of "hampering or interrupting" the "German work of reconstruction". Death sentences were to be handed out to both "perpetrators" and "instigators and adjuncts," and acts intended were to be punished with the same severity as acts committed - immediate execution. In his zeal to carry out the orders, Kutschera brought terror to Warsaw on a massive scale. The Nazis organised street raids and held public mass executions as well as secret killings behind the walls of the burnt-down ghetto between October 1943 and 15 February 1944 (the date of the last execution) which claimed the lives of over 5000 men and women. The pink (annoucements) containing the names of the victims terrorized the inhabitants of Warsaw. Only Kutschera's offical title - "SS and Police Commander for the Warsaw District" - was given on lists; his name was never disclosed. Kutschera's identity was discovered almost by accident through the work of Warrant Officer Aleksander Kunicki ("Rayski"), head of the "Agat" intelligence unti. "Agat" - later called "Pegasus" - was a special divison of the Subversion Supervision branch of the Home Army or AK, established to eliminate high-ranking officers of the Nazi apparatus of terror. In surveillance that later proved valuable while planning and carrying out the assassination, "Rayski" and his men closely monitored the unidentified target's dailt trips in an Opel Admiral from his house at 2 Roses Alley to work at SS and Police Headquarters in the Warsaw District on Ujadowskie Avenue. The SS man had a fairly short distance to cover, just a few hundred meters, dotted with German patrols. An agent of the "Zak" Criminal Police determined that the man under observation was called Franz Kutschera. "Rayski" was provided with a photo of the general by Zygmunt Kaczynski ("Merry"), an undercover intelligence officer at the E. Wedel chocolate factory. "Rayski" shared his key findings with his superiors, and a few days later the assassination orders were handed down. The assailants were aware of the fact that the attack had to be carried out in the city centre, in broad daylight, rapidly and in difficult conditions. The operation was coordinated by the Pegasus First Platoon commander, Bronislaw Pietraszewicz ("Flight"). The first attempt on 28 January 1944 was unsuccessful: the assailants waited in vain for Kutschera's car to appear. To make matters worse, as the would-be assailants were parting, a passing German patrol shot one of them. The second attempt was made four days later, on 1 February. Between 9 and 9:15 am in front of SS Head Office, a stolen Adler Triumph Junior car driven by Michael Issajewicz ("Bear") blocked the Opel Admiral limousine with Kutschera inside. Its driver flashed a yellow signal and tried to drive around the obstacle, but "Bear" blocked its passage once again. "Flight" and Zdzislaw Poradzki ("Tiny Tot") ran up to the Opel and seriously injured Kutschera with shots fired from one meter away. "Bear" finished him off as he jumped out of the Adler. Four assailants died in the attack.

Facts and fiction

Answer to Violence is not a faithful reconstruction of "Operation Kutschera" for a number of reasons. The film was produced during a wave of anti-Stalinist political reform known as the Polish October and the atmosphere of liberalisation that rose from it, referred to as the Gomulka Thaw. It was precisely because of these circumstances that a film about the Home Army was possible. The transformation was not deep enough to permit its name to be used or its organisational structure to be described. The public was offered a comfortable explanation for this: the film's chief creators, director Passendorfer and scriptwriter Stawinski, said the dramatic pace left no room for an explanation of historical facts. Secondly, the said, the film was not intended to portray combat operations directed against the occupier as such, but to tell the story of young people who initiated them: about how their characters put to a difficult test and how their adolescent dreams (love, marriage, life after the war) were confronted with the brutal reality of the underground fight against the enemy. These assumptions (and now it is difficult to determine whether they were personally plotted by the authors of Answer to Violence or whether there were superimposed on them) allowed the film to disguise the legendary "Pegasus" operation and its AK background. We witness the elimination of a high-ranking and unnamed Nazi killer, which is carried out by an also-unnamed fighting underground organisation. Nevertheless, anyone who knows anything about the Kutschera assassination will have no doubts as to what this film is about. It is hinted at in the opening credits, when Marcin Issajewicz, who participated in the operation, is identified as a consultant in the making of the film. A while later, the camera pauses on one of the famous "announcements" concerning a mass execution, and shortly afterward the dialogue lines suggest that they are spoken by conspirators plotting to kill the man whose title is listed on the ominous announcements. The identities of the heroes have been changed and they have received different code-names in the script (the assassination is supervised by "Black" [Czarny] played by Andrzej May) but as events develop, the action closely follows the facts. The assassination was in fact carried out by 12 conspirators, including three women at warning points. Also in keeping with actual events, the operation takes place between 9 and 9:15 am. The path of the limousine carrying the target is blocked by a car driven by "Wildcat Zbik" (Wojciech Siemion), whose character is modelled on "Bear" - Marcin Issajewicz, who performed this feat in the real assassination of Kutschera. According to events, at the decisive moment the assailant jams the metal lock in his leather bag holding grenades ("Marek" is played by Tadeusz Lomnicki; "Ali" in reality). History records that after the assassination, the wounded are hastily taken to hospitals and two assailants, disregarding orders, do not desert their car and instead drive it to the Kierbedzia Bridge with Germans hot in pursuit and, after an uneven fight, jump into the Vistula. (Those were "Juno" and "Falcon"). But Passendorfer's film also deviates from the facts. There is no mention of the first failed attempt, the actual time of the assassination is extended by several minutes, and the long and strenuous preparations for the operations are vastly simplified, showing only some target practice and the slightly comical drawing of the operational plan on a suitcase using a piece of chalk, with cars depicted by matchbooks. Moreover, contrary to what Passendorfer shows, the assassins did not meet secretly in basements.

Answer to Violence and the Polish Film School

Passendorfer filmed Answer to Violence during the "Storm and Stress" period and the crowning era of the Polish Film School, as depicted by three masterpieces concerned with settlement and martyrology: Kanal/They Loved Life (1957) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958) by Andrzej Wajda, and Eroica by Andrzej Munk (1958). In the first and third film, the action takes place during the Nazi occupation and in the second one, during the waning hours of the war.

The war theme undoubtedly draws Answer to Violence nearer to the main current of the school, but Passendorfer's different approach to the topic does not permit the film to be placed within it. Despite the dramatic finale of Answer to Violence, which depicts the consequences of the "Kutschera operation" - the desperate attempts at rescuing the injured and the ambush at the Kierbedzia bridge, but of which echo the hopeless situation of the insurgents in Kanal/They Loved Life - this echo is barely audible. An equally superficial relation exists between the romantic attitude of the eager-to-fight Zawada (Zbigniew Cynkutis) or the initially sceptical approach of Marek, dealing with the prevailing Polish question of whether to fight or not to fight. Wajda tried to answer this question in Kanal/They Loved Life and Ashes and Diamonds and Munk in Eroica, but the entertainment aspect of Answer to Violence weakened the element of discourse and intellectual provocation that was typical of the films at that time.

In spite of that difference, Passendorfer's work fits into the Polish Film School - not in its primary trend but as a side current depicting the sensational aspect of war and occupation. Other such films include Deserter by Witold Lesiewicz (1958), Pills for Aurelia by Stanislaw Lenartowicz (1958), The Eagle by Leonard Buczkowski (1958), and White Bear by Jerzy Zarzycki (1959). All of these war dramas share one common feature distinguishing them from the works of Munk and Wajda cited above: instead of depicting losses, they focus on the victorious struggles of Poles against the Nazi oppressors, even though they came at great sacrifice. Half a century ago, films portraying war as adventure met society's need for success, even if partly stimulated by the authorities. These films were beginning to depart from the open discussions initiated by the October Thaw. In suppressing the polemical current of the Polish Film School, this trend set another one against it - one that did not attempt to re-open the national wounds. Thus, Passendorfer's film is mute about the most severe repercussions of the event: the shooting the very next day of 100 hostages within a few meters of where Kutschera was executed, and the imposition of a fine of 100,000 marks on the capital city. The "personal relationship" between the Polish Film School and Answer to Violence is beyond any doubt. Stawinski, one of the movement's best scriptwriters, contributed to many outstanding works of the time: not only Kanal/They Loved Life and Eroica but also Man on the Track (1956), an anti-Stalinist film by Munk, and Bad Luck by the same author. Lipman, one of the leading cameramen of the school, contributed to the success of Generation (1955), Kanal/They Loved Life, and Lotna (1959), all by Wajda.

Answer to Violence today - merits and drawbacks

Half a century after the premiere of Answer to Violence, Passendorfer's film still retains its freshness - but also its shortcomings. The dynamic action, narrated without excessive inventiveness yet fluent, keeps up the suspense throughout the 80-minute films. The convincing, suggestive, yet toned-down acting of the majority of the main protagonists - Andrzej May, Bozena Kurowska (Marta), Jerzy Pichelski (Doctor Maks, Tadeusz Lomnicki, Wojciech Siemion and Stanislaw Mikulski (Jacek) - does clash, however, with the theatrical mannerisms of Grazyna Staniszewska (Krysia), who adorns her spoken lines with an over-sentimental and almost mawkish tone. The shooting of most of the film in Torun, which was spared by the war, further distances the work from the authentic Warsaw operation. In spite of that, the director managed to faithfully render the atmosphere of occupation and conspiracy in the capital city. The best scenes in the film are when Krysia's mother (Irena Malkieiwcz) recieves a warning on the phone that it is raining so she had better not leave the apartment; when Mr. Josef, the car mechanic (a brilliant bit part by Adam Mularczyk) repairs the assailants' car without asking any questions, and when Marta and Jacek are stopped by a German patrol while transporting grenades. Answer to Violence is also a tale of a sincere, devoid-of-pathos patriotism of young conspirators, their solidarity and ethos. This ethos (which was a bit shaken by the decision to disobey an order and the excessive bravado on Kierbedzia Bridge) requires them to donate blood and watch over the ailing at the expense of their own health and to force the doctor to admit the more severely injured friends to hospital, rather that have their injuries treated first. Answer to Violence with all its shortcomings and evasions remains a valuable and attractive title, nowadays a classic, of the Polish war cinema. But it must be remembered that Jerzy Passendorfer's film is neither a history lesson not a product that can be understood if seperated from its political environment.


3 comentarios:

D. dijo...

Gracias por el film.

James dijo...

La verdad no sé porqué este "cargamonton" con el zippy, si siempre funciona de maravillas, es asunto de tener el programa correcto para descomprimir y evitar los prejuicios, hombre. Ademas no todos los que somos fanaticos de este excelente blog estamos en paises donde se puede descargar con facilidad, en el lugar que me encuentro el megaupload simplemente esta bloqueado, para descargar con el rapidshare tengo que esperar media hora para cada link, y los unicos que me funcionan de maravilla son el mediafire y el zippyshare. Es todo. Espero que los fundadores de este blog sean comprensivos, gracias.

Laurent Bauer dijo...

Thanks for that movie and the numerous subtitles !