The Deluge (1974) Poster

(1974)

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10/10
The most "human" portrayal of war yet conceived
letrias28 August 2002
Note: "Potop" means "Deluge", and is labeled such on some international covers of the film, though not all.

This is one of the greatest post-medieval war films, yet unfortunately is largely ignored by audiences today. Perhaps it is because this is Polish production based on a historical Polish novel. However, although the story is based vaguely on Polish history, nearly all of the characters, except for the Polish king & some members of Polish aristocracy, are fictional. That is not to say the events or characters are untrue to life - just the opposite: they are wonderful representations of people thrust into universal situations of desperation. It is easy for anyone to identify with many of the characters depicted in the film. Director Hoffman has created people, not just characters, they seem so real that one feels almost able to reach into the screen and touch them. Another interesting factor is that they are people from all walks of life. Unlike Kurosawa's "Ran" (another fascinating film about post-medieval warfare), the people represented on screen are not just the leaders responsible for the actual war. Everyone from peasant folk to the highest ranking military personnel is covered - and they are all deep characters, with emotions and feelings, not just hordes of faceless crowds running to battle to be slaughtered. This creates a full tapestry of characters unlike anything seen in any film of this kind.

The cinematography is another factor worthy of mention, especially regarding its intended relation to the depicted events. The locations reach from breathtaking and beautiful images of Polish forests to the cold and hopeless feeling of winter. It's interesting to note that the mood of the cinematography quite often directly reflects the mind-set of the characters, especially the character Andrzej Kmicic (played by Daniel Olbrychski). Kmicic, without a doubt the most interesting personality in the film, is often a very irrational man. He lapses, quite suddenly, from emotions of extreme hatred and rage, to feelings of unquestionable love, and the cinematography perfectly reflects this instability. This becomes especially evident in the latter portion of the film, as the Swedish army encroaches Poland, and the situation becomes desperate for all the characters involved. The landscape at this point becomes desolate and cold, as if the invading Swedes brought with them not only weapons of death, but also the excruciating winter of the Scandinavian north. Even the music reflects this atmosphere of desolation, as is best evidenced in a scene of the Swedish army marching into Poland. The music at this point becomes powerful to the extreme, yet it is a simple tune played by many instruments, creating an atmosphere that conveys feelings of the freezing winter by aural means alone.

"Potop" is flawlessly directed by Jerzy Hoffman, one could say that this was his greatest achievement. His previous film "Pan Wolodyjowski", based on the third part of the same trilogy of books, was also wonderful, but it failed to convey the chaotic and senseless nature of war as well. With "Potop" Hoffman has created a masterpiece. It is dark, cruel, and ruthless, as war always is. The editing, supervised by Hoffman, is flawless. In 1999 Hoffman brought the first part of the Sienkewicz trilogy to screen in the form of "Ogniem i Mieczem" ("With Fire And Sword"), but left the editing to a young editor who tried to impress young audiences with pointless fast edits, which made that film nearly unbearable to watch. With "Potop" we can see a master at his best - there are a few fast edits where such editing is appropriate, and many long perfectly choreographed shots that reflect both the beauty of the landscape, and the desperation of the characters involved.

The acting is another factor that makes this such a wonderful film. There are so many interesting characters and excellent performances to match, that it would be impossible to cover them all. However, two actors that truly stand out here are the late Tadeusz Lomnicki in the role of Michal Wolodyjowski, the same role he portrayed in "Pan Wolodyjowski", and of course Daniel Olbrychski as the erratic Andrzej Kmicic. The only oddity here is that Daniel Olbrychski actually appears in all three parts of the trilogy as three very different characters. In "Pan Wolodyjowski" he plays the evil Azja Tuhaj-bejowicz, and in "Ogniem i Mieczem" he is Azja's father Tuhaj-Bej. This makes some sense in terms of the first and third part of the trilogy, since we'd expect the son to look a little like his father, but in "Potop" he plays a Polish noble. This can be a little distracting when you see all parts of the trilogy, yet it is impossible to deny that Daniel Olbrychski is one of the best actors of the last three decades, so it's no surprise that Hoffman wanted Olbrychski to appear in all three parts of the trilogy.

Overall, this is one of the greatest war films of all time. Because of its ability to create real humans out of characters, it is also a fine film compared to any genre. Unless you are deathly afraid of subtitles, you will surely agree. War is hell, and this film represents that perfectly! Highly recommended.
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10/10
Another masterwork of Jerzy Hoffman
denis88830 June 2006
A highly recommended great patriotic film, 4 hours long but still a real feast for all lovers of novels by Sienkiewicz. This is truly a deep insight into the terrible beast that is war. Bravery, cowardice, romanticism, cruelty, friendship, blood - all is here, and all add to the masterpiece of Mr. Hoffman. Pay attention to the excellent play of the main hero, Adam Kmicic, mastered by the national Polish star Daniel Olbrychski. You feel both empathy and sympathy to him in all his heroic and tragic endeavors, yet he perseveres and wins in the end. This is a film not only for Poles or Russians (this movie was and is a great success in my homeland), but if you are interested in the 17th's century history and the events of the Swedish attack on Poland, this is the story for you.
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10/10
more technical-budget view
akasha_shamira_dracula15 January 2006
I'd just like to add that "The Deluge" contained the best battle scenes made for the next 20 years till the movie "Barveheart", but even now they're still impressing. Hoffman managed to do that without any special effects and in the times when Poland was a communistic country and the budget was smaller than the amount of money middle class actors in Hollywood get now paid.

Except the battle scenes, it's impossible to not see the wonderful costumes and decorations. They're not only beautiful, but they create the climate of the 17th century better, than the often artificial decorations in Hollywood movies made for any century.

The film's time is about six hours. To tell the truth, I doubt that the Americans would have made this movie nowadays for less than a 100 mln $. Jerzy Hoffman could have dreamed at the best of that kind of money for his film and still, he made one of the best movies in history of cinema and the best in the history of Polish cinema.
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10/10
The national treasure of Poles
lidkajch30 July 2006
"Potop" ("The Deluge") is the film that every Pole knows almost by heart. It is shown on TV every year, either at Christmas time or at Easter - and yet we watch it over and over again and we are never bored with it. There are many reasons for it, like superb acting by some of the greatest Polish actors, especially by Olbrychski as Kmicic (although I personally don't like him very much in his other roles, he just WAS Kmicic - passionate, quick-tempered, desperately in love with Olenka and not too politically wise) and the gripping story covering a tragic period in the history of my nation (that is the Swedish "deluge" as we call it - the 17th century war between Poland and Sweden, when Swedish armies invaded our land and some noble families betrayed the Polish king and accepted Gustavus Karolus).

One of the strongest elements of the film is the care with which the director and the whole crew depicted the 17th century Poland, with the costumes, traditions and food. As an anecdote I can tell you, that at the time the average family saw ham only at Christmas, and never in such amounts as you can see in the film - and yet what you see on the table in the picture is real hams, game and poultry...

The devotion and passion of all the crew members show in the film - and that is why it involves us, the viewers even after so many years. But the most important thing is that whether you know Polish history or not, you will find in the movie some general truths about war, about how it influences peoples' lives, and how the sacrifice of one man can change the course of history. It will also tell you something about the Poles - yes, we are rebellious, we are quarrelsome, and yet we are ready to die for things that are sacred to us - like the abbey in Czestochowa, the "home" of the national treasure: the painting of Madonna, the Queen of Poland.

So watch it and enjoy - it's on my personal list of top 10 films of all times, all nations.
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Good flick about Swedish/Polish war in 17th Century.
potoppol16 March 2002
Potop( the Deluge, in English) is also a story of betrayal by some of the Nobles of Poland who side with Sweden. It is also one part of Henryk Sienkiewicz's Trilogy; the others, also filmed by Hoffman: Pan Wolodyjowski (Colonel Wolodyjowski) and, Ogniem i Mieczem (With Fire and Sword) were released in 1969, and 1999, respectively.

I have been able to find these movies for sale in the US, although they're in Polish, with English subtitles, at Polish import shops, however, I've been unable to find DVDs.

This movie, as well as the other two mentioned, have some violent scenes, but the violence depicted is not unusual for the time period, and such violence was no stranger to Western European counties such as France, Spain and England.

Potop is a very good action flick based on historical events, see it if you can.
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10/10
epic war tale
slug-56 January 1999
This movie is an epic tale set in the 17th century Poland

were there is a war between the Swedish and the Polish armies. The turning point of this movie is when a Polish general betrays Poland and kills thousands of olish men. This movie had an academy award nomination but didn't win.
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