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01Death of the President - Smierc prezydenta
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  Death of the President - Smierc prezydenta [dv494]
by Richard Brzostek Date Added: Monday 28 April, 2008
With the end of World War I, Poland was placed back on the map after being partitioned for 123 years by its neighbors. With Poland's rebirth, there was a lot of excitement and tension with the direction the government will take and who would lead the country. The title of Death of the President (Smierc Prezydenta) gives away what will happen, but how it happens and builds up makes it suspenseful.

The movie goes back and forth between the events leading up to the assassination of Gabriel Narutowicz and the trail of the assassin Eligiusz Niewiadomski. We see the whole hubbub in the presidential selection, in which there were five rounds of voting before a candidate won. Once Narutowicz was selected, there was an outcry because he didn't have the support of the conservatives and was considered a radical. The newly selected president is put in a hard place because he has little support, even from those who selected him.

While most of the film focuses on the events leading up to the assassination, Niewiadomski's speech in court adds a lot to the story. He is eloquent with his words and gives a forceful speech. Marek Walczewski truly did outstanding in acting the infamous role of Eligiusz Niewiadomski.

For the most part, Smierc Prezydenta portrays the events without bias. The events were complicated and the film attempts to show us the issues that were at hand in the election. I do think there are two small pro-communist propaganda parts that were thrown in to please the censors or perhaps a refection of the director's own feelings. I do not think these two parts take away or distract from the overall film and it was common for Polish films of the Communist era to have a pro-communist reference tacked on somewhere.

Jozef Pilsudski is portrayed in the movie slightly negatively. This was surprising to me because most of the time he is heaped praise and considered a hero. Of course, Pilsudski gave the Russians a hard time in 1919-21 Polish-Soviet War and was disliked by Communist Russia. All in all, it is not a blatantly negative portrayal and the film probably made a good attempt to be fair.

Smierc Prezydenta is directed by the late Jerzy Kawalerowicz. Of the half-dozen films I have watched by Kawalerowicz, all have been a pleasure and none disappointed me. He is a very talented director and his work is worth getting to know.

Smierc Prezydenta is great for those who would like to learn more about Polish history in an entertaining way. It is a great political drama that recreates history and captures the feeling of the time.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
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