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Another Bitter Tale

He would never forget those days… he had to leave his friends and music band in Poland for England! “I could not speak a single English word,” said Paweł Aleksander Pawlikowski, the 62-year-old Polish filmmaker, who has lived and worked most of his life in the UK. He garnered much acclaim for a string of award-winning documentaries in the 1990s and for his feature films ‘Last Resort’ and ‘My Summer of Love’, both of which won BAFTA and many other European Awards!
The political turmoil in Poland in the 1960s and 70s, and the Socialist System still haunt Pawlikowski. His father, a doctor by profession, had left Poland many years ago, while the Nazis killed his paternal grandmother in Auschwitz because she was Jewish. Pawlikowski arrived in England with his mother. Initially, he thought that he was in the UK to enjoy vacation with his mother. Later, he realised that they arrived there as immigrants!

Paweł Aleksander Pawlikowski.jpg
Paweł Pawlikowski

Pawlikowski studied Literature and Philosophy at Oxford University before becoming a world-famous filmmaker. His 2013 drama film ‘Ida’ became the first Polish movie to win Foreign-Language Film Oscar. For the 2018 historical period drama film ‘Cold War’, Pawlikowski won the Best Director Award at Cannes! In these two films, he portrayed the real image of the Polish People’s Republic under Soviet Rule. The Director also narrated the wounded love story of his parents, and lives of immigrants in his movies. According to Pawlikowski, ‘Ida’ and ‘Cold War’ are not just stories, but picturisation of some historical events!
Indeed, history is strange… based on images of his parents, Pawlikowski created the two main characters – Wiktor and Zula – in the movie ‘Cold War’. Their musical lives began in 1949, as they were members of a troupe. While Wiktor was a pianist, Zula was a dancer. They fell in love with each other. However, the Authoritarian Government prompted them to leave Poland. They arrived in Yugoslavia in search of a peaceful life. Unfortunately, the Yugoslavian Secret Police detained Wiktor for anti-national activities in Poland. Somehow, he managed to return to Poland, but was jailed as the Polish Government considered him as a ‘traitor’. In order to get Wiktor released, Zula had to marry the manager of her own music troupe and to give birth of his son as a gift! Finally, Wiktor and Zula tied knot at an abandoned church and decided to commit suicide, together…


One can find the role of cheater history behind the love stories of homeless immigrants. The erstwhile Soviet Union highly influenced Poland and other East European countries, which were occupied by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. These countries had no other option, but to adopt the Socialist System during the Cold War. People of the East European nations could not accept this imposed system. To them, this system was nothing, but a chain, believes Pawlikowski!
The historical events have been depicted through fragmented black-and-white images throughout the movie! Pawlikowski made an attempt to highlight the grey areas of life, destination, exile, identity, and the State. The Cold War’s story ended in 1968, although the director’s parents passed away in the 1980s. Of course, they did not experience the fall of Soviet Union and other Socialist States in Eastern Europe…

Cold War.jpg

In October-November, the Socialists mark the anniversary of Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Even today, they dream of People’s Liberation by the Communist Party. They forget the fact that the Party, which was born with the idea of Liberation of People, violated the basic Human Rights after coming to power! The Communists launched attacks on creative personalities in Poland, Romania and other erstwhile Socialist nations in Eastern Europe.
Cold War’ tells the story of Poland in 1940s and 50s, when the war-ravaged country was going through a change. Members of the Mazowsze folk group successfully encouraged the Polish people with their music and dance performances. They popularised the national culture once again after the German occupation. In the movie, the name of the troupe is Mazurek. After Mazurek’s performance in Warsaw in 1951, a senior administrator called Wiktor and Zula, asking them to include pro-Communist and pro-Stalinist propaganda in their performances. Although Wiktor and Zula were not ready to accept the proposal, they had to obey his order.


The film-watchers of the world, and of course the Polish, like Pawlikowski’s ‘Cold War’. Perhaps, they are able to reconcile themselves with migration or deportation! Pawlikowski is of the opinion that majority of the Polish people have been humiliated by exile! It is like being lost in the chronology of history… when a person lives with her/his loneliness…

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