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Lotna [DVD] [1965] [US Import]

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: Polish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HIP4AG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 333,360 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I remember seeing this film back in the 1960s on the big screen in a cinema which specialised in foreign-language films and being very impressed by it. I have often wondered why it has been unavailable on VHS or DVD for so long - but at last it has re-appeared and I have been able to renew my experience of it!
I think it admirably recaptures the spirit and atmosphere of the Polish campaign of 1939, personified in a doomed Polish cavalry squadron which adopts into its ranks a grey mare - the eponymous "Lotna" ( "the Swift One") - donated by a dying Polish aristocrat.
A light-coloured horse was never the preferred choice for cavalry in action as it was more easily seen by the enemy - and indeed on one occasion "Lotna" brings death and destruction to the squadron by breaking cover and attracting the attention of German divebombers.
Wajda does perpetuate the old myth that the Polish cavalry charged German tanks! This originated from a mistake made by Italian war-correspondents viewing the site of a skirmish in which Polish cavalry had emerged from the forest and carved up (literally) a German transport column before swiftly withdrawing back into the forest on the arrival of German armoured-cars (not tanks) which inflicted some casualties with their machine guns. The war-correspondents saw the dead Polish troopers and horses lying near the now-parked armoured cars and assumed they had been charging them. The Germans did nothing to correct this mistaken belief and so the myth was born!
In fact the Polish cavalry usually fought dismounted and were equipped not only with anti-tank rifles but an excellent towed 37mm anti-tank gun which could knock out any German tank of the period - as they showed at Mokra where the Polish cavalry gave the Panzers a bloody nose!
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Format: DVD
"Lotna" is Andrzej Wajda's 1959 film about a cavalry squadron facing the crushing blitzkrieg campaign the Germans unleashed on Poland in 1939. The men in the film make a valiant effort to defend their country, creating a quixotic image of their struggle. As the day progresses into night, you can practically feel the impending doom they face.

The movie draws you in with its presentation. The storyline and music are compelling and artistic. There is symbolism and deeper meaning throughout the film. From Lotna, the white horse, which may symbolize defiance and death to the bride who catches her veil on a coffin on her way out of church, that shows death is nearby, the film is teeming with symbolism.

An example of the courage and futility facing the squadron is when they charge several German tanks with sabers swinging and lances in hand. One of the cavalrymen strikes his saber against the nozzle of the tank, which does little damage. The Germans actually produced propaganda during World War II that had staged footage of a Polish cavalry charging German tanks, beginning the myth that this was the method Poles used to fight the Germans. "Lotna" helped cement this myth into legend with the scene described above. In reality, the Polish cavalry's arsenal of weapons included anti-tank rifles that could pierce armor.

As you may expect from Wajda, "Lotna" offers more than a typical film. It paints a picture of the lives of a few soldiers in the Polish cavalry as they make the most of a difficult situation. If you enjoy old war movies or enjoyed Wajda's other films, "Lotna" is one not to miss.
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An interesting record of a moment in history which is poorly documented, especially for non-Poles. However, it doesn't carry the emotional power of Wajda's more recent 'Katyn', for instance. Film technology & expectations have moved on during that period! Similarly, Wajda doesn't examine the detail & reality of the "sabres against tanks" stories which have dominated our awareness of the Polish response to blitzkrieg. Perhaps because of the political conditions under which this film was made?

The German and Russian invasions of Poland in September 1939 would surely provide a rich source for new films... as would the whole (often hidden, or forgotten) history of Polish military involvement in WW2, come to that. Meanwhile, I recommend Wajda's 'Kanal' as a (more powerful) companion film from this early period.
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Poor Lotna tried to do her best but got little thanks for it... of course Lotna is Poland in this highly allegorical film. Yes, it shows Polish cavalry charging tanks which people now say never happened but remember this is an allegory and Wajda is probably using the cavalry charge as a symbol of the hopelessness of Poland's heroic struggle. In any case, I know of at least one German veteran who claimed that his tank was on the receiving end of a Polish cavalry charge- he said it was a terrifying experience even though he knew he was in no real danger. So I guess the jury is still out on this one! Wonderful, moving film but don't treat it as a history lesson.
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excellent movie
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