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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Too long and somewhat sentimental, but an eye-opener
on 15 June 2014
Before watching this, we had no clue about the interwar history of Poland. We knew it must have been a separate state to Russia and Germany before WW2, because the Nazi invasion is what triggered British involvement, but prior to that…
This Polish-language film, subtitled in English and set in 1920, provided both a history lesson and a couple of hours of entertainment – although by the end we were fairly immune to the extended battle sequences that could easily have been shortened by 15 minutes or so without losing any narrative effect. The producers obviously had thousands of extras and wanted to use them. Lots. Being blown up, bayoneted and shot at.
The plot follows a young Polish solider, who marries his best girl before going off to fight on the front with Soviet Russia. WW1 finished not so long ago with Germany defeated, but the new Soviet state seeks to spread communism throughout Europe in a sweeping workers’ revolution – and there are some great scenes with Lenin, Stalin, et al, planning the Red Army’s course through the Ukraine and westwards. Poland has allied itself to Ukraine, believing that together they will be strong eno9ugh to repulse the Soviet advance when either alone would fall.
What follows is an occasionally clumsy and unsophisticated kind of docu-drama, showing the chaos of military action at a time in between the mechanised methods of WW2 and the traditional cavalry and foot-soldiers. The narrative highlights the massive confusion; how men who fought against each other in WW1 now unite against a different side: how Russian Cossacks switch sides to fight for the Poles and against the Red Army. We follow our two characters through their own wars, and see the decisions being made by the generals – there’s even a tip of the hat to the polish codebreakers (without whom Station X would have initially struggled) and a surprisingly nuanced segment alongside a Soviet commissar, bringing freedom to the peasants at gunpoint.
Inevitably, the personal story veers into slushy sentimentality that would have done Spielberg proud, but the historical plot was fascinating to watch unfold. If Warsaw had fallen then so might the rest of eastern Europe, long before the USSR spread its influence after WW2.
A surprisingly enjoyable and informative feature film. And stacks of battlefield action with things being blown up, if that’s your thing…