Noce i dnie (Nights and Days) (1975)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Jerzy Antczak.

Starring:     Jadwiga Baranska (Barbara Niechcic),  Jerzy Binczycki (Bogumil Niechcic),  Barbara Ludwizanka (Barbara's mother),  Jerzy Kamas (Daniel Ostrzenski),  Janina Traczykówna (Michalina Ostrzenska),  Elzbieta Starostecka (Teresa Ostrzenska-Kociello),  Emir Buczacki (Lucjan Kociello),  Stanislawa Celinska (Agnieszka Niechcic),  Jan Englert (Marcin Sniadowski),  Kazimierz Mazur (Tomasz Niechcic),  Olgierd Lukaszewicz (Janusz Ostrzenski),  Anna Nehrebecka (Celina Katelba),  Andrzej Seweryn (Anzelm Ostrzenski),  Karol Strasburger (Józef Toliboski),  Henryk Borowski (Klemens Klicki).  Beata Tyszkiewicz (Stefania Holszanska),  Kazimierz Kaczor (Russian officer),  Andrzej Szczepkowski (rejent Holszanski),  Wladyslaw Hancza (Jan Lada),  Mieczyslaw Milecki (priest Komodzinski),  Marek Walczewski (Daleniecki)., Barbara Rachwalska (servant girl to the Niechcic Family),  Bozena Dykiel (Andzia Torebkówna),  Andrzej Gawronski (Czerniak, peasant in Serbinow),  Ryszarda Hanin (Zarnecka-main cook to the Niechcic Family),  Ewa Dalkowska (Olesia Chrobotówna),   Zofia Merle (peasant Maria Kaluzna),  Tadeusz Fijewski (Luczak-peasant from Serbinow),  Helena Kowalczykowa (peasant from Serbinow),  Teodor Gendera (peasant from Serbinow)

life in Poland following the 1863 Poland uprising up to World War I; woman marries a man she doesn't love, with some negative repercussions 

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

 

Set in the second half of the 19th century following the failure of the January 1863 Uprising. The January Uprising was fought by partisan units against an overwhelming advantage for the occupying Russians. The warfare lasted from January 1863 to the spring of 1864, when Romuald Traugutt, the dedicated last supreme commander of the insurgence, was captured by the tsarist police

 

A man drives a woman in a large wagon to a town. She says that in her hurry she forgot to take the photograph of her husband Bogumil. She got all the pictures of the children, but forgot about Bogumil. "Even now I forget about him." She wishes this time of upheaval could stop for a moment so someone could rescue Bogumi’s photograph.

A woman named Julie yells out for Mrs. Barbara Niechcic saying that the town hall and everything else is on fire. She tells her to pack her things quickly and come for she has rented a cab for them.

 

Part One:  Bogumil and Barbara.

 

Hordes of people are fleeing the town. Julie and Barbara's cab barely moves along the packed streets. The people are also being pushed along by the German army. It's WWI. 

Flashback. Barbara has a flashback to Bogumil playing the piano and singing along with others. She also remembers her and Bogumil all dressed up nicely running through a wheat field. Barbara joins in the singing. Other scenes are of them working on the harvest of those fields.

There is a woman getting married. A man grabs Barbara and whirls around with her while others are also dancing. Another woman calls out to the man, a Mr. Josef Toliboski . He comes over and says that they will dance a mazurka [a Polish dance resembling the polka]. The fellow seems to be the life of the party.

Barbara watches Mr. Toliboski ‘s every move and doesn’t like it when he holds the handkerchief of another woman. A woman says that when this marriage ceremony is over, they can get Barbara's sister Teresa to marry Kociello. The groom says that then it will be Barbara’s turn. And he has just the right man for her – the man who loves water lilies. Barbara remembers when Josef picked up water lilies from the lake. She then remembers dancing with the man at the wedding.

Bogumil and Barbara get married.

Barbara tells Teresa that she does not love Bogumil. She then asks if it’s even possible to love one man for one’s whole life? Teresa says she doesn’t know because she has never really ever been in love, not even with her husband Lucien.  Barbara tells Teresa that in Kaliniec they are saying that she is engaged, but she just may have to say no.

Teresa runs over to a sleeping Lucian and tells him to wake up: "Look at what my sister’s up to!" Sister has said in a letter that she has given up dressmaking and is now giving lessons in arithmetic.

Lucian says that Barbara is just going back to her old way that she loves. Teresa doesn’t like the remark and says that Lucien is returning to his old bachelor ways. She warns him of coming trouble. He tells her not to threaten him and she responds that people are all ready starting to snub them.  Furthermore, Barbara’s not coming here for the holidays either, but is going to Bork with the Ladas.

A huge dining table is filled with people dressed in formal wear. A man shouts: "A party at Ladas must have everything!" He is sitting next to Barbara. Then the dancing starts.

Bogumil too is at the party.  He watches Barbara as she dances. He asks the man who had danced with Barbara earlier what is the name of that lady? The man grabs Bogumil and drags him over to Barbara saying that he presents to her "our hero" Mr. Bogumil Niechcic.

Again Barbara remembers when Mr. Toliboski went out to pick the water lilies. When he returns to the shore he presents the flowers to Barbara.

Teresa tells her sister that Toliboski got married to a rich, plain-looking heiress in Warsaw. The family will only live a few miles from where they live at Borowno which is the bride’s dowry.

A group of people, including Barbara and Bogumil, go to the opera. Barbara has a feeling that everyone is watching her, but then realizes they are looking at Niechcic who sits behind her. She doesn’t seem to care for him saying that he lacks education and is uncouth. A beautiful young lady smiles at him and he bows to her. Seeing this glance, Barbara says Niechcic in his new suit does cut quite a figure.

She starts worrying about him falling for some other woman, but then dismisses the idea saying that he loves her. She adds: "If I back out now nobody will ever want to marry me." She is, after all, no longer a young woman.

Bogumil takes his fiancé Barbara over to show her "the house". Chickens are running about in the house. A mother is feeding her several children. She and her husband will be leaving and the house will belong to Barbara and him. Barbara does not look pleased. Bogumil tells her that the place will be renovated.

Now Bogumil takes Barbara to meet his mother.

At the wedding a man has a message for Bogumil. His mother has died.

Barbara remembers moving into a terrible old place that was just filthy. The potato crop was starting to rot because of excessive rain. She also remembers feeding the dirty pigs. Life on the farm was just work, work, work.

Bogumil tells Barbara that he lied to her. They won’t be moving into the house he showed her, because the family is staying there another two months.

Barbara does work hard, but at night in bed she wonders. She also seems to be happy for the moment with her husband. She dreams of Mr. Toliboski coming to her rescue. She dances with him before they run away from the terrible place.

An old man rushes into the chicken room to shout: "The Uprising continues and is near victory." Bogumil comes into the room to tell the man that he cannot go out today because the Cossacks are here. The man sits down and starts singing a patriotic song.

Barbara remembers back to a time when a whole room of Polish people sang a patriotic song. She asks Bogumil if he knows the tune, but he says he doesn’t. She says: "I thought you sang it in the Uprising." He tells her that they did not sing the song.

Bogumil remembers back to when they had to pull hundreds of corpses out of a watery mass grave.

Barbara and Bogumil thumb through an old photo album. He tells Barbara that during the uprising Uncle Klemens was wounded in the head. They dragged his half-dead body off the battlefield. Ever since his mind’s been clouded. He would periodically say that he has to go back and fight alongside his unit.

The dogs on the farm start howling and an upset Barbara asks if those dogs will ever be quiet?  She says she will die here during childbirth and wants to go to Kaliniec to see her mother and Teresa one last time. Bogumil says village dogs howl the same way as farm dogs.

Barbara’s at a huge fete where the women dressed up beautifully in pretty gowns. Today there will be a rowing boat race known as sculling. At night they have fireworks and Japanese lanterns. Standing next to Bogumil, Barbara wonders: "Why can’t I shine like them?" She says that the two organizers of the fete didn’t even graduate high school and Michasia thinks that Darwin (Charles) is a city. The organizers says that Barbara just has to move to the city for that’s where everything happens.

Barbara complains to her husband that she sees no real future for them if they keep staying in Krempa. She brags about the great things the two organizers do in the city. Bogumil says he just knew if she came here, she would want to leave him. He asks her why is she so miserable in Krepa? She says because she’s sick. He cuddles with her, but soon falls asleep and Barbara complains to herself that all he ever does is sleep. She dreams again of being with Toliboski running around in the fields.

One day Barbara comes out to where everyone is working on the wheat harvest. Bogumil is thrilled that she has come out to fetch him. He talks to her about the great harvest they are having. At night they have sex. He talks about how his life changed so much for the better when he met Barbara. He says he doesn’t know what made him so bold to pursue her, but he had a feeling that Barbara was a troubled soul as he was. He knew when he had her that he could really do something for the people.

Back to the present. Barbara is riding in the wagon to go to town. She thinks back and says to herself it was so fortunate that, marrying without love, that at least it was Bogumil she was given as a husband. And she is glad that she never told her husband that she didn’t love him.

Thousands of refugees are on the roads trudging along. The cab driver stops his wagon and tells Barbara and another women that this is as far as he goes. Barbara says that he just can’t abandon them now like this. The man asks her if she can’t see that the Prussians are coming after them?

The situation is so overwhelming that Barbara starts to cry. Doctors have to operate on wounded people.

Flashback. Barbara remembers her little boy dancing in his pajamas while her husband played the fiddle. She puts the boy to bed and scoldd Bogumil. Then there was the time that they went for a sleigh ride and played in the snow.

Those found memories are stopped as Barbara remembers looking at the grave marker for her boy Piotr Niechcic, age four. She remembers how she grieved at his grave and how her husband grabbed her up and ran with her back to the carriage. She remembers her son being so sick in bed, but she also remembers the family walking amidst giant sunflower blooms.

Back to the present. Refugees die along the way and are buried along the road.

Flashback. Barbara remembers when her husband told her that when she was so ill, he promised if God got his wife through this, he would move to help improve her spirits. Now he has gotten a reply to his letter that he wrote to Teresa. There is a stewardship opening at the Serbinow estate. She says they should leave because this could be their big break.

But how, asks her husband, can they leave a place where Mama, Uncle Klelmens and Piotr are buried?

Back to the present. Barbara yells to people with carriages to please take her back to her children in Nieznanow!

Flashback. At another huge dinner, they are going to start the dance, but Barbara asks the host please no dancing. Then she thinks for a moment and says let them go and have their fun, but she and her husband should not dance (because of the death of their son). Out of respect for the mourning couple, the dinner guests do not dance. But they do have the Jewish band play their music.

Barbara, however, does not behave at the party. She enjoys the men fawning over her way too much. It upsets her husband who says this means she does not love him any more and she is going to abandon him. She says she could have abandoned him long ago, if she had wanted to. Barbara adds that two years ago a man asked her to run away with him and they would marry. Bogumil grabs her hard demanding to know who it was. She tells him it was the schoolteacher. She now tells her husband that she just laughed at the man. "I’m not the unfaithful type or the loving type."

Bogumil says so this is what she has been doing behind his back. She will deceive him and desert him. She tells him she will not deceive him, but she will never tell him anything more that’s secret.

Husband and wife go to look at the property at the Serbinow estate. Later they move into the place. It looks pretty run-down and the roads are very muddy. The place has stables and horses.

Mr. Shimsel of Kurza is a vendor that comes right to the door of the estate. He tells the family that he foresees lots of children on the estate.

What there is a lot of is rain and none of the roofs are good ones. Everything is getting wet, including the house. It puts everyone under a big strain. Bogumil tells his wife that they will have to forget about making a profit for two years. And he’s not going to write to Daleniecki, who complained that all of his predecessors did nothing but write for more and more money. He tells his wife that they will have to pay for a lot of the little things for which he will have to borrow the money.

The couple have another baby. They have a lot of sleepless nights.

It’s harvest time for the rye. A man named Roman Katelba comes over to talk with Bogumil. He says he was sent by Mr. Daleniecki. They have a good harvest and now things are looking up for the couple. Bogumil shows his wife all around the different fields.

Things are not going well for sister Teresa and her husband. Their marriage is breaking up. She asks if it’s any wonder it’s breaking up, because she told him that he was going back to his old bachelor ways. He refused to put family and home first. She says she has gone back to teaching. Her husband hates that worst of all.

Barbara goes to see her sister, but Teresa is going to take the girls to Lithuania for the summer. She adds that she will come over to Serbinow tomorrow or the day after.

Teresa does go over to Serbinow but soon she wants to go back and see the children. She also says that there’s something wrong with her. Bogumil gets the carriage and a driver for her and covers it with a great many flowers. And off they go.

Barbara is furious with her husband, saying that he made her look like a fool in front of her sister. She says Bogumil heaped on bunches of flowers behind her back. He says simply that they had a good spring cut. Barbara says it is she who is the one who cuts the flowers for the guests. Then she asks: "Just tell me how did Teresa know who to thank for the flowers?" She concludes that there is something going on between her sister and Bogumil.

Bogumil denies the accusation, but does say he’s happy  because for once she is jealous of him. And now it looks like Barbara is going to say too much again. She asks her husband if he takes jealousy to mean that she loves him a lot? "The man I love, could shower God knows who with flowers and I’d forgive him." She says she is not jealous in the way that her husband thinks. She just can’t stand the thought of once more being seen as a woman who has been thrown over. This remark hurts Bogumil and he leaves the room.

She rushes over to him and he tells her: "I’ve known all along that you don’t love me. As for that other man, I learned about him before we became engaged. But I preferred to think it was just an idle fancy. Besides, you said yourself you loved nobody and I swallowed that."

And now Barbara starts back-tracking saying she never really loved anybody, except for Bogumil. She tells him to come back. Husband says: "And make things ever harder later."

Teresa is very ill and talks about her dying. Then she dies in the arms of Barbara.

Teresa’s husband says he’s moving to Czestochowa. Now he gives her letters to Barbara.  Barbara reads the letters. Teresa was having an affair with a fellow named Thad. She wrote to Thad to send the letters she wrote to him back to her for she wants the letters destroyed. She met him one day when she was out walking with Barbara and Bogumil. She said there was nothing special about the man, but she lied.

One day Barbara grieves at Teresa’s grave. Thad comes over to speak to her. She gives the man a very dirty look and he leaves the cemetery.

Now Barbara and Bogumil sleep in different rooms. One night he comes in and fondles her beasts through her night gown. She says she’s so tired that she just wants to go to sleep. He asks her if she is tired of him now and wants nothing from him? She says things will change, but begs him to be patient for awhile.

Back to the present. Old Shimshel comes over to see Barbara in the big crowd of refugees. The two are happy to see each other. Shimshel tells her that he will take her wherever she wants to go.

The refugees are still on the march. Shimshel says they are nearing the Toliboski place. Shimshel tells Barbara the man lives in a palace and will love taking Barbara into his home. So off they go.

Flashback. Bogumil shows off his two fine daughters and his new son. Barbara is in a bedroom recovering from the birth of her son. She is worried that Lucien is not drinking enough. But Lucian says enough is enough. He adds that he doesn’t feel well and has to take care of himself.

Michalina is still embarrassing her husband after so many years. She is fawning over Lucian. His mother-in-law says she’s sick of all the couple’s arguing and she’s going to go live with Bogumil. She moves into the place and really enjoys herself. But mother soon has a heart attack that lands her in bed.

Barbara is again having problems. The little boy and one of the girls is sick. And grandmother is being ornery

Grandmother has another heart attack and dies. Barbara is upset by the passage of her mother. She insults her husband and all his family as a bunch of yokels, because he included their children tint he funeral ceremonies for their grandmother. After that outburst she soon regrets the terrible things she said to Bogumil.

Bogumil gets a nice letter from the general manager praising him for what he has done for the estate for the past eleven years. He is amazed and delighted by the improvement of the estate. Barbara asks why wouldn’t the estate be in good condition, after all they didn’t have much to eat for many of those eleven years? Now Bogumil asks her why is she always so bitter and angry? She just says that neither one or the other will understand each other.

Shimshel brings an older woman named Hlasko to see Barbara and her children.  Hlasko says she brought them presents from Barbara's brother Julian Ostrzenski, the engineer.  She herself has just come from Petersburg.  Barbara and the children greet the woman very warmly.  Hlasko supper with the Niechcic family  She talks a lot about Julian.  She says his whole life is wrapped up with his club.  In fact, the man even sleeps at the club.  Barbara makes little snide remarks about her brother's likes and dislikes.   Hlasko says these days brother Julian is mostly interested in the tables, billiards, operettas and gypsies.  Sister says Julian is just like their father  --  eat, drink and be merry.  She adds that even her own family is falling apart.

Hlasko says she is a teacher and was wondering if they knew anyone in need of a tutor?  Bogumil quickly say yes, they need a tutor.  He says Barbara always says that the only thing that kept her from going to Kaliniec was a tutor for the children.  And now here is their tutor in person.  Barbara does not seem very enthused about the idea. 

Bogumil says his farm will be in ruins soon.  Another five of his men failed to report to work.  Barbara tells him typhus is typhus. 

A woman comes running yelling:  "Run for it!  The doctors are coming!"  The doctors are coming for the dead and the dying.  They arrive and put  mostly men into hay-filled wagons. 

The bad rains come again and Bogumil tells his wife that the crop has been ruined.  Barbara gets so exasperated that she says they should abandon the farm and go elsewhere.  That way they can at least stop worrying about the damn rain.  She adds that she will take the children with her to the city. 

Barbara walks with her youngest daughter Agnieszka and her husband in the city.  They do a lot of shopping.  A woman sees Barbara and goes to warn her:  "Mr. Daleniecki wants to sell Serbinow behind your backs."  She says the owner has a spy here in the city.  And she says the spy is Shimshel.  Later Barbara tells her husband, but he says he's not worried.   

At night at home Barbara tells the doctor that she is suffocating and won't last through the night.  (She's a little bit of a drama queen.)

Barbara refuses to go to the funeral of a relative, so Bogumil says he will go to the funeral alone.  Barbara and the children see him off in a carriage.  When Bogumil comes back he tells his wife that, if there aren't any snags, Barbara will be getting some money (6,000 rubles) from the will of the deceased.  Barbara declares that the money is a "windfall".  Later hubby asks the wife what will she do with her windfall?  She says at last she will be able to see a bit of the world and visit Cracow.  

Barbara is happy about the money and acts like she wants to have sex.  But then she suddenly pulls back from Bogumil saying she feels unwell.  Bogumil says it's because she doesn't love him.  He asks her:  "Is it my fault that I was never your type?"

In bed thinking, Barbara wonders why she is so weary of intimacies?  She's fond of Bogumil because he is such a good man.  "It must have been decreed that feelings of dislike and attachment, aloofness and closeness do not last for her nor do they fill her whole being."

 

 

 

Part Two:  Wiatr Woczy. 

 

Barbara is packing up her things for a short visit to the city.  Before she goes she has sex with Bogumil.  He tells her if she is always going to act this way upon going away, he will look forward to her next goodbye. 

The children went with their mother.  And now Bogumil is all alone.  A female servant asks him if he would like her to fix him something to eat?  He doesn't answer.  The woman says it's going to be sad here at the estate without the lady and the children.  Bogumil asks a young female servant if all the shutters are closed?  She says, yes. 

Bogumil is out looking at his fields when a neighbor, Mr. Wojnarowski, comes along and invites the temporary bachelor for a carriage ride.   Bogumil hops aboard the carriage.  The neighbor then invites Bogumil over tomorrow night for supper and a session of card playing with his eldest girl. 

The next evening Bogumil meets the young and pretty daughter, Xaviera.

The estate workers have been really hurt by the wet weather.  One man says his whole roof has come off his hut; the pigpen is a wreck;  and the workers' places have either no floors or only rotten floors.  Bogumil says he inspected their home and knows that they need to be repaired, but it's not up to him.  He says he doesn't need to be constantly reminded the repairs are needed. 

Bogumil goes to see Barbara in the city and things there are not going very well.  She has a hard time trying to keep her boy Thomas in line.  She says he needs the stern hand of a father to help guide him. Moreover, Barbara really does not go out much and often just sits long hours alone in the house.   She even seems a bit depressed.  Barbara actually says that she doesn't care for company.  Another depressing thing is that Lucian has cancer. 

Neither of the pair can sleep.  They meet in the kitchen and talk.  Barbara says that they are only loved when they are at Serbinow.  Bogumil says:  "How can they love us, when we don't love each other?"  Barbara says that Bogumil always said he loves her.   He agrees that he loves her.  He goes to his separate room to go to sleep.  A little later she comes into his room, but only to say she just wanted to make sure he was tucked in bed.

Back home Bogumil goes to see his neighbor.  The father is out but Xaviera is absolutely thrilled to see him.  She starts kissing him.  She gets peeved at him when he says he wants to talk to her.  She dumps herself into a chair.  Xaviera tells him that she will stay out of his way and one time she tried to poison herself to death.  Her father saved her.  She then talks about Bogumil running out on her.  He says he could only bring her more pain, but she really grabs him hard and kisses him on the lips. 

Xaviera's father has told her to either marry Ostrensky to go to Switzerland for her studies.  Now she tells Bogumil.  He goes to sit on the far side of the room.  She asks him why is he rejecting her?  He says he is too old for her, but Xaviera insists he is not too old.  They hug and kiss. 

In the fields, some of the women want Bogumil to fire that woman Ala Chrobot because she has gotten so uppity since she has been going around with Katelba.  Then Katelba comes up to ask the boss for two days off to go see his mother.  Bogumil asks him how can he request days off now when the rain is threatening to rot the crop in the fields?  They go up to the farm house and Bogumil tells Katelba to quit drinking so much and straighten up.  Katelba says how can he when that Ala Chrobot has got him bewitched?  Ala threatened to tear out the eyes of any woman who tries to marry Katelba.   Katelba is a bit too drunk and he tells the boss that Daleniecki wanted him to spy on Bogumil.  He adds that he couldn't do that because he owed so much to the kindness of Bogumil.  Bogumil gets angry at the very thought of a spy and grabs Katelba by the jacket collar and says to him:  "You . . . you scum."

In the rain the boss goes out  and here comes Ala Chrobot.  She grabs him and takes him over under the eaves of the house and tells Bogumil to order Katelba to marry her.  He asks why?  Because she loves him and can't live without him.  And he can't live without her.  Bogumil says she has to change before Katelba would even consider marrying her. 

Bogumil tells the cook that he will have his dinner at the kitchen table because it's too dark and gloomy in the dining room.  He asks the cook if she knows anything about this Ala Chrobot woman?  The cooks says women like that travel from place to place and are always taken advantage of. 

Bogumil kisses Xaviera and she tells him to leave his wife.  He replies that he can't.  His life is ending, but her life is just beginning.  Only this madness keeps them together. 

Barbara tells her husband that she and the children will come to visit with him for the two weeks of Christmas.  She says that Bogumil should visit Wojnarowsk and Bogumil says he goes over there to play cards, but they mostly just talk.  Barabara says oh how she wished to have someone to talk to. 

At Christmas Xaviera sits and sings Christmas carols along with Bogumi's family. 

Bogumil sees Xaviera off on the train.  She gets so mad at him for not choosing her over his wife that she tells him to get out of her sight.  Back home Barbara says that Xaviera woman is a strange one and some people might say that Xaviera is leading Bogumil on.  Barbara has a feeling that something is not right.  She asks him what's wrong?   He kisses Barbara's left hand.

Back to the present.  Shimshel is still driving Barbara along wet, muddy roads. 

Flashback.  Barbara speaks with Lucian who says he's going to buy some land, start an orchard and build a house.  He tells her that he has to leave today but he wants her to come see him when the new house is built.  He says, but doesn't explain, that he gets funny ideas sometimes. 

Barbara comes to visit the dying Lucian.  He tells her that after his Teresa died only Barbara was dear to him.  If he thought that Barbara was not happy, things would have been different between them. 

In the fields, Bogumil asks where is that Katelba?  A worker tells the boss that Katelba has been spending most of his time with the Chrobot girl.  Bogumil grabs a scythe and starts mowing the field.  He sees Barbara and Thomas come out in a wagon.  Barbara tells him that Daleniecki is coming!  And she thinks he is going to sell Serbinow.

Daleniecki is speaking with Katelba.  He tells the worker that he is not selling Serbinow.  Ketelba tells Daleniecki that Bogumil's family came into some money and they bought a place in Kaliniec. 

Daleniecki tells Bogumil that while Bogumil is planning to move to his own place in the city, he was just going to give him a raise and extend his contract for five more years.  Bogumil can relax now and he starts talking about how much he loves every inch of Serbinow.  Daleniecki is so happy that he gets out of his chair and kisses Bogumil on his left cheek several times.

Husband and wife walk the fields talking about their children growing much older now.  Barbara says:  "Life has nights, days --  and Sundays."  And she has a feeling that a special Sunday is coming their way. 

Family and friends come out to Serbinow to help celebrate Bogumil's fifteen years of service on the estate.  They all tour the grounds and then they sit down for a very nice dinner.  Daughter Agnieszka looks very grown up now. Some money was left on the table as a tip to the servants and Thomas seems to have taken it.  Dad spanks Thomas, while Barbara yells that dad is killing their son.  He stops the spanking and Barbara takes the boy into his room.  She cries over him and tells him:  "My son . . . Don't be the death of your mother!"  Meanwhile the 1905 Russian Revolution encourages farmhands to riot.

The talk is of war between Russia and Japan.  Many of the women do not want to see their husbands, sons and brothers going off to fight on some foreign soil.  The men are receiving their "call-up" papers.  Bogumil gives the job of handing out the papers to another man because he says he just can't stand to hand the papers out.  He goes home and talks to his cook who wears a very open white blouse.  She wants a brief affair with him --  and affair that he will never forget. 

Barbara learns from Agnieszka that Toliboski is going to pay her a visit. She tells her daughter that they haven't seen each other for 25 years.  And now Barbara is going to tell her daughter about Toliboski.

Barbara waits for Toloiboski.  Her daughters rush in to tell her that there are demonstrations starting outside.  Barbara jumps up and says they are going back to Serbinow where it will be safer.

Back at Serbinow, dad is in bed with the zaftig cook.  Barbara comes walking up the road.  She sees the cook flirting with her husband.  The cook looks out the window and is shocked to see Barbara.  And now Bogumil sees his wife.  She starts running away, but he runs and catches up with her.  He tries to explain things.

Barbara looks sad.  Speaking of the death of one of their servants, Barbara says:  "She thought she was irreplaceable.  But the world didn't even know she existed.  Life passes that same way for all of us and vanishes without a trace.  With or without us.  Those nights and days flow on regardless."  She then says that she ran to Bogumil on that Saturday she returned to Serbinow and deliberately missed seeing Toliboski.  Her husband says:  "I didn't think you cared about me that way.  That aspect of life has meant nothing to you."  He says she ran away out of a fear of what she might do. 

Barbara goes back to the city. 

Barbara reads the papers and tells her husband:  "The revolution's petering out.  Like everything in life."  She adds that she thinks the war with Japan will soon be over.  Her husband is thrilled by something else.  Daleniecki has given him permission to build new bunkhouses.  He thinks the boss is being so generous  because he's marrying Miss Mioduska. 

The people who will get the new lodging are very excited about it and are very happy to work on the building the housing.  Barbara comes out with Agnieszka to tell dad that their daughter had graduated with honors. And now Agnieszka is thinking about going on to the university.  Yes, she wants to study natural science in Lausanne. 

The speaker named Snadowski tells a meeting of interested parties gathered in Switzerland:  "Polish independence will again become an international issue!"  He says a war will begin in Europe again and the issue of an independent Poland will become active again.  Poland, after a century of bondage, must again be free!  After the speech Agnieszka speaks with Snadowski.  She is very upset because Snadowski wants to go see Miss Wojnarowski in France.  Snadowski says that he feels very sorry for the woman.  She studied many different courses in Lausanne but never settled down to actually graduate.  She is very unbalanced and somewhat of a lost soul.  So Agnieszka tells him to go to the woman.

Now Snadowski says he will not go to Paris.  He wants to be by himself for awhile for he feels he is not yet his own man.  Rather he belongs to the cause.

Agnieszka and her mother work in the fields.  Thomas comes home from school to see his mother and father.  He says he has passed his subjects, but the report cards are not out yet.  Dad doesn't like Thomas' hat saying that he doesn't hold to extravagance.  Thomas lies and says he borrowed the money and bought the hat to celebrate his passing.  His father gives him the money Thomas said he borrowed in order to repay the lender.  After supper with the family Thomas goes out drinking and dancing with the farm workers.  A pretty young woman goes outside with him.

The next morning a fellow drives up to the house and the driver says that he has brought Master Thomas' things.  And the Ostrenski maid says that Thomas had to return Master Bogdan's hat.  When dad learns that Thomas swiped the hat he starts hitting the boy.  Barbara and the two sisters stop dad from continuing to beat Thomas.  Thomas then runs away.  The whole family goes out in the rain to find Thomas, who has climbed up a tree and is staying there. 

Mom comes back into the house saying that Thomas may be out there somewhere laying in a ditch.  Agnieszka asks her mother:  "What about me?  I might also come to a bad end."  So mom goes over and asks her what's the matter?  Daughter says she loves someone and he loves her, but they can't marry because he's too dedicated to the cause of Polish freedom to think of his own personal happiness.    She adds that they have parted company and she is slowly getting over it.  Mom asks Agnieszka if she is going to have as unhappy a life as her mother has had? 

Dad brings Thomas in and now Barbara tries to smack him around.  Dad stands in her way.  Bogumil tells mother to kiss her son because he has learned his lesson and has reconciled with his father.  So now Barbara kisses him. 

Agnieszka gets a letter from her beloved and he says that he wants her to be with him in Brussels.  He loves her.  Dad complains that the lad never told him his intentions toward Agnieszka.  The daughter says how could he tell dad when he is in exile.  He fought for what her father fought for in 1863 and now condemns.  Bogumil say he doesn't condemn it!  Dad was hoping that Agnieszka was coming to love the land and might decide to become a farmer.  Agnieszka tells her father that it is not potatoes that Poland needs. 

Two years later.  Barbara says that Miss Wojnarowski has returned to the area.  But this time the woman is married to Ostrenski and she has given birth to twins. 

Barbara tells the family that there is going to be a new European war. 

Thomas comes back home with a story that he was robbed of everything he had, even his clothes.  And then Barbara reads a letter from the institution where Thomas is studying.  Barbara says the woman writing the letter is clearly saying that she wants Thomas to leave.  Barbara pleads with her husband to save their son from himself.  She starts crying. 

Thomas gets thrown out of the local dance place for drinking too much and for causing a disturbance.  He fought with his sisters who tried to get him to go back home and he also resisted the men who tried to help the sisters.  And now Barbara is crying because Thomas made such a bad display of himself that he has shamed the whole family.  Thomas remains defiant saying that everyone drinks at weddings.

While crying, Barbara prays to God to intervene on behalf of her son. 

Anselm, the son of a close friend of Barbara and Bogumil's, buys some land from the the Niechcic family saying he is going to build a brick factory of some kind.  But the fellow merely bought the land to sell it for twice what he paid for it and pocketed a 100 percent profit on the land.  Barbara and Bogumil are furious at him for they thought they were doing him a personal favor. 

And now Bogumil takes a risk and bets his own money on the purchase of water drainage equipment for Serbinow.  He is to bring the deposit money into the businessman tomorrow.  Bogumil goes out trying to raise the money but makes very little progress.  Barbara tells him to use the money they have in the bank.   

When the parents get home there is a letter for them from Daleniecki.  The letter says that Daleniecki has sold Serbinow. 

So now the question is how is Bogumil to pay the 9,000 rubles to the businessman?  Bogumil says to Daleniecki:  "I gambled everything on that property and I lost because of your fly-by-night trade in human fortunes!."

Bogumil feels really rotten over his large monetary loses.  He says he can't image living any place but in Serbinow.  Barbara works hard to cheer him up.

The new owner wants Bogumil to stay on at Serbiniow, but Bogumil this time says no. 

Thomas plays cards under a bridge with his ner-do-well friends.  The pretty woman who likes Thomas tells Barbara that Thomas is at the lime kilns.  He just loafs around there, but the woman says she herself works there.  She then tells Barbara to take her son back home with her.  So Barbara pays a visit to the lime kilns.  She finds Ala and then Ala finds Thomas gambling.  She tells him he is going home with her.  He says tomorrow he was to start his new job in the office.  Barbara doesn't believe him.  She tells him that Serbinow has been sold.

The family leaves Serbinow and the farm workers watch them as they leave.   Bogumil will stay behind for the night and then come to the city.  The people have a nice celebration for Bogumil.  He takes his hat off to the people and then starts walking to their new place.  After more than twenty years at Serbinow, Bogumil and Barbara buy a small estate at Pamietow, sold on very generous terms to them by Mr. and Mrs. Ostrenski. 

Agnieszka comes to visit her parents.  They tell her that they have enrolled Thomas in the commercial school again.  And then there's something wrong with Emilia.  She is sad and mournful. 

Bogumil walks up a hill where he can can look over at the land of Serbinow.  He returns worn out and exhausted and asks Barbara for some water. Barbara has to call in the doctor.  He says Bogumil has a problem with his left lung, but tells Barbara not to worry for "it's essential to keep calm."  Bogumil received a bad wound via a bayonet during the fighting of 1863.  Now the area has become calcified and the doctor says it's the beginning of emphysema. 

The doctor comes again and tells Barbara that the left lung is suppurating [ripen and discharge of pus].  The situation is grave.  Dad tells Thomas to study and he asks Emily where is Agnieszka?  She's coming. 

The left lung is worsening.  Bogumil says that he's dying and his wife tells him not to leave her.  

Bogumil is gone and the kids and their friends are having a raucous times dancing to music.  Agnieszka arrives in her mourning clothes and is revolted by the sight of the dancing and carrying on.  Mother is very happy to see her and says she doesn't mind the children and their friends having some fun.  Agnieszka tells her mother that when she gets back she will take her to Warsaw.  But mother says she has to stay here and look after things. 

Emilia is getting married to young Bartold.  They refuse to live in Pamietow.  So mother has decided to sell Pamietow.

Barbara and a man walk by the river.  He suggests to Barbara that it is best that she forget about Bogumil.   She blames herself for his death saying if she had not told him to wear his sheepskin coat that he may never have gotten overheated.  Then he might still be alive today.  The news arrives that Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo.  Now definitely the new European war is coming. 

At home Barbara tells Julie that she needs to make a move.  She moves to the city. 

The Russians have left Kaliniec and retreated to the Vistula River.  So the people of Kaliniec feel as though they have been liberated from the Russians.  They begin thinking that Kaliniec is going to be the place to wait out the war. 

Barbara is expecting her children to come to Kaliniec.  Julie says the trains have stopped running.  Barbara says there are still other ways to travel. 

The news of the day is the announcement of a general mobilization in Poland.  The soldiers start leaving Kaliniec. Julie says the war is starting and the town is seething.  She will stay with Barbara for the night.  Barbara says that she is not afraid of war.  They can't kill all the people of Poland. 

Now the German troops arrive in Kaliniec.  They march down the street of the town.   People are out an about in the town square and mixing with the German troops.  That doesn't last too long, however, as a report comes in that the Cossack troops are headed toward the town.  Everybody starts to panic.  Some of the soldiers in their panic are firing their weapons and killing other German soldiers.  The German command finally gets control of the panic.  And now they claim that the Poles opened fired on unarmed German soldiers.  A group of the town residents is placed before a large firing squad and are shot dead.  So much for Kaliniec being the place for waiting out the war. 

Panic now sets in among the town residents and they want to flee Kaliniec.  Barbara tells concerned people that they can go, but she is staying in town.  They say that the Germans are setting fire to the entire town.  Barbara says she has to stay because her children will be coming home.  People are now running from the fires.  Barbara stays in the house staring at the photo of Bogumil.  She starts crying.

Back to the present.  Julie yells for Barbara to come and get in the carriage.  This time Barbara goes.  The refugees pour onto the roads.   Barbara has to leave the carriage.  And she begs people to take her to her children in Nieznanow.  Shimshel says he will take her to see her children.  So Barbara rides in Shimshel's wagon.  She thinks of the young Toliboski.  They go to Serbinow, but that place is surrounded by people looking for someplace safe to stay.    The son of the overseer apologizes to Barbara and suggests that she try Chetow or Jastrzebice.  Barbara says thank you and they continue their journey. 

 

 

Good movie.  I was a bit disappointed that they did not integrate more history into the Polish film.   The story goes from the uprising in 1863 to World War I.  So a lot of time is covered, but often the film doesn't tell what's going on in the larger society.  The focus is mostly on Barbara and Bogumil's family.  The first part dragged a bit and I really got tired of Barbara telling her husband that she does not love him.  She married without love, which was unfair to her husband.  And too many times she told him things that she should have just kept to herself.  It just made it worse for her husband.  This poisoned atmosphere must have hurt the children, but this aspect of family life was really not dealt with much.  Their only son, however, did have lots of problems, but again it was not directly related to the lack of love in Barbara for her husband. 

And in a way Barbara did love her husband, perhaps even more than some women who think they love their husbands.  She just never said the words "I love you" to poor Bogumil.  The second part of the movie was better.  And there was some justice in Bogumil having two brief affairs with real women, unlike Barbara's imaginary love for Mr. Toliboski,   She never had a real affair and she did stick with her husband and children throughout many a tough economic year for the family.  When her husband was dying and then dead it became much clearer to Barbara just how attached she was to Bogumil. 

The poverty of the farm workers was a bit tough to watch.  I felt badly for their sufferings.  And, of course, one has to feel sympathy for a country like Poland that is caught between two world powers:  Germany and Russia.  They paid a high price for where they lived between the two big countries.

Jadwiga Baranska (as Barbara Niechcic) was very good. 

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

 

 

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