The Promised Land

Andrzej Wajda

Poland, 1975



History of Industry in the 19th

Modernity vs. Tradition,
Melting Pot of Different Cultures in One Nation,
Formation of Big, Industrial Cities



– What is the main subject of the film?
– Can it divided into the most important themes?
– Does the film faithfully render the atmosphere of an industrial city in the 19th century?


00:35:20 - 00:39:25
01:13:00 - 01:15:00


– What does dawn look like in the city of Łódź? How does the music correspond to the images of the city?
– How is the collective character, i.e. the people of the city, presented?
– How does Wajda indicate that the residents of the city are of various cultural background?
– What are the origins of the friendship of the three protagonists and their joint project?


– Which decisions of Karol Borowiecki, a young Polish nobleman, reflect his moral degradation?
– Does he hesitate when he is about to sell the manor house in Kurów and move his father to the city? How is Kurów presented in the film, in contrast to the city?
– What is, in his father’s opinion, Karol’s attitude to tradition?


– How does Borowiecki aspire to success?
– How does the character treat women? Can you find other examples of taking advantage of women in the film?
– What is the role of film editing in that sequence?
– What does the fire foreshadow in visual terms? What is the function of colours?
– What does fire symbolize in the film?


For the activities here below, watching the entire film is suggested:

1ST step
Students work in groups, analysing the most important arguments from the reviews and offering their own comments. The representatives of each group present the conclusions from the debate to the whole class.

2ND step

Students write an essay on one of the following topics:
1) A multi-cultural city today
2) The price of success today


The Promised Land (1974) is a masterpiece. A masterpiece that gave its director his first Oscar nomination and keeps leading various polls for the best Polish film of all times. However this masterpiece is a bit controversial. (…) The Party critics defended Wajda’s work from the attacs of (…) nationalists (…) who accused the creator of biased anti Polish approach, while at the same time film magazines that were not an ideological speaking tube focused solely on the work’s artistic features.The political “fight for Wajda” which started in Poland had no significant influence on the reception of the film in the West where The Promised Land had to deal with the accusation of anti-Semitism. Anna Nehrebecka who among others with Andrzej Wajda, Wojciech Pszoniak and Bolesław Michałek participated in a press conference in Los Angeles preceding the Oscar ceremony recalls that event in the following way: What was happening was for me at the same time terrifying and funny, because the problem of anti-Semitism in the film unexpectedly became the main motive of the meeting. Anglo-Saxon critics in their reviews focussed on the way national and ethnic minorities were depicted in the film. In the first place the portrait of the rich Jewess, Lucy Zucker (Kalina Jędrusik) proved problematic. She was described by a critic from “New York Times” to be a particularly repulsive, piggish woman. Is it an anti-Semitist or anti-Polish film?

Sebastian Jagielski
The Splendour of Male Relationship.
Andrzej Wajda’s “The Promised Land” as a buddy film




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