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Excellent Polish Farce
kayester15 January 2004
I knew nothing about this film when I saw the DVD on the shelf. My expectations were based exclusively on the director's reputation. My pleasure at this wonderful farce, set in late 18th Century Poland, was immense. It is apparent from almost the first moments that the actors are both at home in this material and having the time of their lives playing it. It is a classic, with all the classic characters. There is the puffing, sanguine paterfamilias; his beautiful niece and heir; the boy next door who loves her, and is loved by her; and his scheming father. Of course these neighbors are feuding. Mix in the beautiful, scheming widow, and a buffoonish lackey, and there is room for a lot of fun.

Polanski's performance as the blustering Papkin, never at a loss for words, never worried about anything more than he worries about himself, is delightful. He brings a mixture of roguishness, bravado and cowardice that is always fun to watch.

Wajda lets his actors have their way. They are all professionals and quite good, and this material wouldn't stand up to tight reins. Instead, we are served a curious castle and severe winter conditions, and somehow, with Wajda stirring the pot, the stew comes out quite tasty. If a viewer enjoys farce, this is one to see.
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Funniest film I saw in a long time.
wilkczarny5 December 2004
Wajda has done a superb job in bringing Fredra's 19th century allegorical play (a high school must-read in Poland) to the Silver Screen. Polanski's portrayal of Papkin is excellent, he is exactly the way Polish impoverished petty gentry of his time were. The other characters are likewise beautifully portrayed caricatures. Olbrychski in a smaller role is unrecognizable, so good is his immersion in the role of the loyal old servant.

The choice of texture and color and location was handled very well. Those unfamiliar with Polish history should view the movie as an allegory of internal division. It's a perfect movie for our current American climate where the right and the left are at odds with each other.
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A superb work by Wajda
denis8888 July 2006
A hilarious Farce , made by the great Wajda. And what a smashing constellation of the Polish film stars - Roman Polanski, Katarzyna Figura, Andrzej Seweryn, Daniel Olbrychski! This is a light-weight, merry, sweet and refreshing comedy, a true farce, an operetta without music. The plot is typical for the 19th century plays - several landowners quarrel over some land while young lovers fall into each other despite all problems. And then there is Papkin, played most superbly by Mr. Polanski. He is a real crook, a hapless soldier, a poor luck hunter, a real adventure seeker. But with what appetite does he play! The scene where Papkin sings a romantic ballad is simply hilarious! And then when he is being beaten and thrown away by the servants! But he is ever smiling, happy, sly and on the winning streak. I love this sweet, easy to watch film. It really does refresh and give you a load of happy mood.
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Amusing farce
wjovb15 November 2004
Wajda does a splendid job of enlivening for the contemporary screen what remains essentially a vehicle for the 19th Century stage. His editing is quick and adds sparkle to some splendid characterizations. Polanski is a revelation. The rest of the cast is excellent, including the young lovers. Clearly, an updated sampling of Poland's literary heritage is something "Robocop" enthusiasts may find hard to endure easily. The film is without belly laughs; rather,it provides a constant sense of building amusement and charm. It is far more accessible to us non-Poles than "Pan Tadeusz." If you know only Wajda's weightier political films, you owe it to yourself to see this one. Advisory: Even though the extras are promoted on the jacket of my DVD, they appear to be in Polish only, a real disappointment.
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Delightful Work
sasamijurai18 July 2003
I watched the Region 1 NTSC DVD release of this film (which is available in North America). I disagree with comments posted by the previous reviewer. Maybe he doesn't understand Polish folklore?

Anyhow the acting in this comedy adaptation of a Play by Alexander Fredro is very good except maybe for Miss Busek who should not be an actress but has been put into films probably because of the influence of her politicican father.

The cast is made up of all the greats (Olbrzyski, Gajos) and even Roman Polanski (proving that this man who works outside of Poland most of the time, is still a Pole through and through). The text is hillarious and witty however the English translations are not very good - occasionally whole phrases are left out or changed.

Anyhow this movie is recommended for fans of Polish literature especially.
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Polish humor meets Shakespear
seth6553216 November 2002
I thought Andreja Wajdy movies were slow and serious until I saw Zemsta- it however turned out to be the funniest Polish movie I've yet seen. Its true you have to be a native speaker to understand the depth of some jokes, but even so Roman Polanski and crew put on a visually fantastic show - I guarantee you'll clap for.
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A charming screening of a nineteenth century Polish comedy.
dolecki19 January 2003
A charming screening of the probably best known Polish comedy of nineteenth century, kept understandingly in the theatrical convention. Gajos, Seweryn, Polanski and others act with sprightliness; to my taste this is one of the best roles of Olbrychski. Some technical (but not artistic) flaws, like intrusive signs on the screen, may be mentioned, but they do not spoil the pleasure of spectators, especially those who have read or seen the play on stage.
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Solid adaptation of a classic stage play
mmrosa21 June 2003
Bad news for non-Polish viewers - this movie is not for you. It's based on a classic and very well know stage play, its characters are well known to everyone in Poland, it's read, analysed in school but it's unfortunately quite hermetic to non-Polish viewers. The play is a part of Polish psyche but it does not translate well internationally like for example Shakespeare's plays. The adaptation is very good, obviously by moving the setting from a stage to a silver screen there is much more scope for the director, he can fluently move from place to another without worrying about usually limitations of a theatre scene. Acting is generally pretty good, with Janusz Gajos and Roman Polanski being quite exceptional. The only character that seems to be miscast is Agnieszka Buzek who just doesn't look the role. I give it 7 out of 10.
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Show and nothing more
powerek17 April 2003
In the last couple of years there has been a trend in the Polish cinema to make film versions of the books that children are obliged to read at school. For the producers, it's a very safe investment of their money - you can be pretty sure, that at least one class from each school will go to the cinema.

It's a great pitty that even masters like Andrzej Wajda make movies of this type. For the readers from outside Poland, let me just notice that `Zemsta' is one of the most famous comedies in the history of the Polish theatre. In Wajda's version it's just a great show - and nothing more. You can see many Polish actors that are currently on top and they play quite well but the overall effect is in fact quite poor. You don't feel any real emotions, you can't sense that unique atmosphere of Aleksander Fredro's comedies.

There's one great thing in this film. For the first time in over 40 years you can see Academy Award winning director Roman Polanski (`Rosemary's Baby', `The Pianist') as an actor playing in his mother tongue. Although he's nearly 70 years old, his role is really funny and full of energy.
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poor quality
standish778 November 2002
Just saw this film in Poland. For those of you who are not accustomed to Polish history...Zemsta is a film adaptation of a popular Polish folklore.

Gathering by the relatively large budget and big name cast (Roman Polanski!)...I was very surprised by such a poor finish. The acting (Polanski excluded) was very over the top and wooden and the music was just reworked pieces from the composer's last film!

Above all the quality of the actual picture was appalling. For instance there is an entire scene where the sound is inaudible and what on earth were those strange @ symbols that kept appearing at the bottom of the screen?

I will not be seeing it again...and I don't think I'm the only one!
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