POLAND: fEEDBACK IN ART, CULTURE, LITERATURE AND MEDIA
Our way to freedom
Feedback in art,
culture, literature and
Socialist realism is a style of realistic art that was
developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant
style in other socialist countries. Socialist realism is
an ideologically-oriented style having as its purpose the
furtherance of fulfilling the goals of socialism and
communism. Although related, it should not be confused
with social realism, a broader type of art that realistically
depicts subjects of social concern. Unlike social realism,
socialist realism often glorifies the roles of the meek
and working class and the struggle for its emancipation.
The most known socialist realism building in Poland is
The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw.
The purpose of cinema in Poland was the promotion of social
realism ideas, encouraging citizens to fight political opponents
and support land reform and the nationalization of industry.
Soviet films of the Stalin era constituted the major part of the
then Polish repertoire. They were all similar to each other in
terms of style and subject, contained the same educational
message and created almost identical characters. The most
glaring figure of socialist realism took the so-called
“production films”. The artists of that period wanted to erase
their individuality. Films were schematic, without the element
of surprise. They showed in positive light heroes of socialist
labour, while the capitalists were villains. Ambitious film
works against the policy of the Socialist Party were censored
or their presentation was forbidden.
Polish cinema in the time
of communist regime
Action shot from a movie ”Adventure in
Preventive censorship was a form of government control
over materials not yet published and repressive censorship
meant searching for, prohibiting and possible withdrawal of
materials from circulation that had already leaked out (not yet
censored before publication). Although, in theory
the censorship applied to publications appearing in a print run
of more than 100 copies, in practice it checked also print short-
runs (which is why the opposition often - as if to spite
the authority - underlined that the issue was published as
pamphlets and books only in 99 copies). This meant
that officials could cross out or entirely prohibit from
publication fragments, expressions or information
uncomfortable for the authorities. Preventive and repressive
censorship operated under the Head Office for Audit,
Publications and Performances.
The Head Office for Audit, Publications and
Since 1977 independent and illegal publishing houses
associated with the Communist opposition party have been
funded . Independent publishing houses operated usually in
university and enterprise environment, and were run by the
social opposition groups. They were responsible for printing
and colportage of various non-censored publications. The
most significant are: NOWA (the first underground
publishing house), Krąg, Przedświt, CDN, Oficyna Literacka.
Independent publishing houses have never received wide
range, apart from the People’s Republic of Poland in the late
80s, because of the police oppressions, infiltration, and the
control system of paper, paint and printing machines.
Andrzej Wajda has to his credit two trilogies, the first is ‘A Generation‘,
‘Kanał‘, ‘Ashes and Diamonds‘ (1955-1958) and the second is ‘Man of
Marble‘, ‘Man of Iron‘ and ‘Man of Hope ‘ (1976-2013).
His full-length debut was ‘A Generation ‘ - the film based on Bohdan
Czeszka’s novel. This movie was produced in 1954 and the opening
night took place one year later. By this trilogy Andrzej Wajda was trying
to sum up the times of The II World War and thereby change the way of
Polish peoples’ thinking.
‘Man of Marble ‘ was a film that showed the hard times of Soviet Union.
However, ‘Man of Iron‘ presented a new myth of solidarity and the
symbol of Polish union against the communism. ‘Walesa. ‘Man of Hope‘
is the last of the triptych. The film reminds of Wajda’s contribution to
Solidarnosc and political opposition. Walesa’s victory is perceived as a
victory of the whole fighting nation.
Andrzej Wajda’s film thrilogies
Andrzej Wajda through his films tried to present the
complicated history after The II World War and the
process of the development of Europe. The director was
awarded many times for his contribution to the
cinematography. What is more, in 2000 Wajda received
an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences.
Poetry against the regime
During the times of the regime poetry had a big influence on the
Polish society. It appealed to all people in our country so the
power it had was sometimes used in an improper way. Poets were
made to write about the members of the government as about
heroes, who they weren’t at all. However, some stayed strong and
did not allow themselves to be used as tools to create a fictional
picture of Poland as a “prospering country”. One of them was
Zbigniew Herbert (born in 1924 – died in 1998). The political thaw
and the end of compulsory social realism in literature enabled him
to debut. His first works came to light in 1956 and in the 80s of the
twentieth century he became a major poet of the Polish opposition.
His works became, especially for the younger generation, a
manifesto of freedom and expression of resistance.