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Jun 12, 2024

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The Peasants

Movie “The Peasants” (“Chłopi”) opened recently in Los Angeles, is also currently playing in New York and will be shown in San Francisco next week and coming soon to the theaters nationwide.

Show times and locations:  TICKET WEBSITE

Trailer: https://youtu.be/-1in2FMBKmo?si=UXW4o4gpvKULGn08

By Małgorzata Margo Schulz

“THE PEASANTS” set in rural early twentieth century Poland is based on the novel by Wladyslaw Reymont and tells the story of the peasants’ lives through famous Polish paintings by Poland’s greatest painters like: Józef Chełmoński, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Leon Wyczółkowski, Aleksander Gierymski, Jan Stanisławski, Julian Fałat, Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski and Apoloniusz Kędzierski,.  The film also features folk music played on traditional instruments. The movie has already been seen and loved by over 1.8 million Poles (8.2 rating on Filmweb).

This film is based on a novel published in four parts between 1904 and 1909 by Władysław Reymont, who was later awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924 largely for his book ( “Chłopi”), “The Peasants, ” beating out Stefan Zeromski, Thomas Mann, Thomas Hardy and Maxim Gorky for the honor. This movie is an adaptation of Reymont’s epic novel, which is considered the most naturalistic chronicle of peasant society ever written.

D.K. Welchman (who is Polish) and Hugh Welchman (who is British) wrote the screenplay and directed The Peasants.  The film combines traditional screenplay with oil- painting animation based on a technique used in the film ‘Loving Vincent’. This brings to life for the audience the rural setting of Reymont’s action-packed novel in early twentieth century rural Poland.

The movie was first shot as a feature film, then a group of over 200 artists started the painting animation, often based on Poland’s greatest paintings, which took over two years, but even before the painters picked up their brushes and oil paints, the film went through numerous stages of production. One of them was determining one of its most important features—the visual layer.

“The Peasants” draws from a half a century of European painting from the turn of the XIX and XX centuries, from the works of many painters from the period of Young Poland, and from European realism, and  impressionism. In search of inspiration for autumn landscapes and beautiful details, the animation artists turned to the paintings of Jan Stanisławski. Seeking winter motifs, they drew from the work of Julian Fałat, renowned for his winter landscapes. Winter and nocturnal paintings with wolves by Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski served as an indispensable source of „night colors.” However, it was the canvases of Józef Chełmoński that best fit the style of „The Peasants.” „Indian Summer,” „Storks,” „Storm,” “Partridges” or „Path in the Forest” are famous classics of Poland’s art and are truly ideal illustrations for this film.

The film based on Reymont’s The Peasants,” is powerful and the oil painting animations of the Polish countryside are beautiful.  The film is a model example of how traditional cinematography is blended with animation.

Materials source: Breakthru Productions.

Małgorzata Margo Schulz is a journalist and Polonia (Polish American) activist, she earned a Master of Arts Degree in Theology and Journalism, from Cardinal Wyszynski University in Warsaw, Poland.  This is one of the very few universities in Poland that is private and independent of government control.  After having worked for many years at Warner Brothers’ Film Studios, she has been writing and creating television news stories on modern and contemporary Polish and American culture and politics.  She lives in Los Angeles, California.

photo: Jagna, the heroine of THE PEASANTS painted by Sasha Aleksandra Sidorets, the source: Breakthru Productions.