Blizna (The Scar) (1976)
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski.
Starring: Franciszek Pieczka (Stefan Bednarz), Mariusz Dmochowski (Vorsitzender), Jerzy Stuhr (Bednarz's assistant), Jan Skotnicki, Stanislaw Igar (Minister), Stanislaw Michalski, Michal Tarkowski (TV editor), Andrzej Skupien, Halina Winiarska (Bednarz's Wife), Joanna Orzeszkowska (Eva - Bednarz's Daughter), Jadwiga Bryniarska, Agnieszka Holland (Secretary), Malgorzata Lesniewska, Asja Lamtiugina, Ryszard Bacciarelli.
an honest party man fights to keep his values against great corruption in the building of a chemical factory in Poland, 1970
Men are bailing out water from a ditch.
A party man asks if everything is under control because their big test is coming up. The answer is yes. The head man then tells the secretary what names he wants crossed off the meeting attendance list because he says he doesn't want to see these men at the meeting. The boss then tells Jan that he is responsible for getting the public to the meeting. They want the input of the people on the building of a new chemical factory.
The head man and his staff in two cars wait for the party members to show up to the outdoor show. The men arrive in four Mercedes Benz cars. Then all six cars are driven deep into the woods. There everyone gets out and the head man talks to them about the site for building the chemical factory. After that finishes, all the men get back in their cars and head for town.
Back in town the head man says to his small audience that five different areas wanted this chemical plant, but they chose the area which is the most impoverished. A man points to an article in a newspaper that is critical of the location site. "We must take public opinion into account." The head man goes over to a window and opens it wide open. The area's people are outside. The head man says all these people need work. He now closes the window. The people outside start leaving the area.
The head man asks if a director has been selected for the job? Yes, he's a local man and is very experienced.
The new director is given a plane ticket to go to Warsaw. The fellow flies to Warsaw. There the head man waits for the director, known as Stefan Bednarz. Stefan has been appointed to go to Olecko, a place that is Stefan's home town.
At home, Stefan asks his wife why did their daughter Eva come? The wife says she will be here for only a few days. She adds that their daughter is not well and needs a rest. Stefan gets angry because he says that it's an abortion. He spits out: "That girl!" His wife tells him to calm down. She asks him if he went to Warsaw? She answers her own question by enunciating: "Olecko. I'm not going there". Stefan tells her that no one is going to remember something that happened 20 years ago. The wife says the people will remember.
At the building site, the trees are cut down. Stefan is there with a reporter. He worries about what to say since he is being filmed and his bosses might see it.
Now the public discussion is held. One man asks: "Why wasn't there a design competition?" Another one asks: "But what exactly are you doing for out town?" "We prefer our old town." A woman says the builders are ruining parts of the town, such as the Dzialki district. All the houses there have been torn down. The head man complains that the people are only airing their own private grievances. This makes many of the people at the meeting very angry. Someone says this remark is an insult. The head man responds that this is a technical meeting and they only want technical questions. The next fellow says they are tearing down an old forest of over 20,000 acres. In fact, the factory will devastate all the surrounding areas. In addition, the drilling of well at the work site is drying up wells in the town.
Another man says that Bednarz is responsible for the picking of their town and he know Bednarz is a genuine humanist. The people want to hear directly from Stefan.
The head man speaks to Stasio. Apparently, 20 years ago there were conflicts between Mrs. Bednarz and Stasio. He adds that he needs Stasio to be on Stefan's team.
Stefan walks around the town. He goes to the place where he once lived. A woman asks him: "Is that you?" She is interrupted by the arrival of Jan. He says the old man knew Stefan was coming so he cleaned up his whole house. Stefan says he's not going upstairs.
In his office he tells his help to contact his assistant and tell him that Bednarz will meet the man at the work site. The fellow comes out. Bednarz explains that some sociologists are coming out to the site. They want to study the changing of a small sleepy village to a modern industrial town.
Stefan has to handle a situation where the owner of a run-down house refuses to vacate the house. A bull dozer is getting closer and closer to the house as it moves the dirt around the area. Stefan tells the bulldozer driver to back off and let the man alone. And he's very glad there was no film crew filming the event.
Stefan meets with the head man and tells him that the site is no good. They are getting lots of negative feedback and he has to personally deal with all the complaints. The boss says only a few people's houses are effected. Stefan responds that the boss has made a big mistake. The head man says: "Maybe. But that doesn't change anything."
Lech Stasio is the head of municipal transport. The boss calls him over. He wants to know what is the state of the roads after a rain? 55% percent of the roads are unusable. The men have a shot of liquor and the boss says let's forget about all this.
The boss shows Stefan his apartment. Stefan takes a smaller apartment because he doesn't need much room.
Stefan takes an airplane to get to a meeting with a Minister, who says he has heard that Stefan does not want Stanislav Lech. Stefan asks why can't he choose his own deputy? The municipality doesn't want him. But, for whatever reason, the Minister is still backing Lech. Stefan gets a telephone call from Eva and the Minister tells him to take the call. Dad tells daughter that he would like to meet with her at 6 p.m. at the Kameralna.
Father and daughter meet. They kiss each other and then Eva gives dad her fourth telephone number. He tells her that this is no way to live. Eva says she could say the same thing about dad's life. "Changing your work, your town, your house? . . . You leave Mom on her own. Is that a way to live?" Dad replies that mom didn't want to come with him to Olecko. Mom ran the cell in high school. They fired a teacher, Lech. Times were different then. They left in 1956, but mom still dwells on the matter. Eva says dad should see things mom's way in this. Dad responds that he always seems to do things wrong, so maybe mom is better off on her own.
Men are signing up for apartments and work. Stefan's assistant is happy with the turnout of men. He telephones Stefan to tell him that.
Stefan is given a paper signed by Lech. He gets upset and asks for the head of personnel, Piramowicz, to come see him. When the man arrives, he asks him why didn't he know they have a head of transport? Piramowicz says the municipal council recommended Lech. Stefan again has to ask the question of why wasn't he informed? Piramowicz again avoids answering the question. Stefan fires Piramowicz.
At night in bed at 4 a.m., Stefan gets a call from Katowice, his wife, who ask how's it going at work? Stefan says that they are inaugurating the factory tomorrow and she should come. Then she says she's celebrating her birthday. He tells her happy birthday. She then says that Eva is coming to see him. She will be with her boyfriend, a photographer or something.
The next day Eva and her boyfriend are there for the opening ceremony. They have a live musical band and a dancing girl. They also have beer and now Stefan's assistant wants a drunk thrown out of the place.
Eva is fairly confrontational when she asks her father is the great Bednarz happy? Dad says this is his job. She replies that building buildings is his job, not handling human problems. "You can't handle human problems." He tells her: "You sound just like your mother." She counters with the statement that dad did treat Lech badly. Eva says her father doesn't have the courage to say he's sorry to Lech.
Dad replies: "Want to know what happened here 25 years ago?" She says no. She only cares about the concerns of today. She complains about how the policeman roughly threw the drunk out of the celebration.
Eva changes the subject suddenly asking dad how much does he know about her? She answers her own question: "Nothing, and you're afraid to find out." Eva then says that she breaks the ties that bind her. Dad strikes out at her complaining about the abortions she has had. Eva gets mad and walks off.
On the TV, Stefan listens to a report on the big celebration today. The reporter says that in the first year the factory has to produce 32,000 tons of nitrates for agriculture.
At a meeting a woman expresses her surprise to Stefan that they now plan to expand the chemical plant to three times its present size. The women at the meeting get very upset. One complains that it's hard for her to get a doctor to see her child because there's only one clinic and ten times more people than before. Stefan's assistant tells the people that if they want social problems solved that is out of their realm of control. The citizens have to approach the council to get social changes. Then, all of a sudden, Stefan stops the meeting from proceeding. The women are not pleased and they leave in a huff. The assistant now tells Hania, the secretary, that from now on she is not to show delegations into Bednarz's office. He says in the future send the delegations to him, the assistant, or to Lech.
The sociologists meet with Bednarz. They let Stefan read their paper. It points out some of the problems inherent in taking a quiet village and turning it into an industrial town. Stefan is just a bit worried that if this is published, the problems might be seen as a list of Stefan's weaknesses. The sociologists say that they don't want to publish it without Stefan's approval. So nothing will be published at least not at this time.
There is some type of celebration at which Stefan is present. There is a big parade with bands and majorettes. Stefan sees his wife and goes down to speak to her. She tells her husband that Eva just had a baby last night. Stefan comments: "So she was pregnant when I saw her." Yes. And Eva has dropped out of college and moved back home. Now Stefan urges her to come up on the stand to be with the other officials. She goes with Stefan. Lech sees Stefan's wife and nods hello, but the woman who once fired him just pulls her head out of the line of sight. She asks Stefan why is Lech here? Because Lech works for Stefan now. His wife wants to get off the band stand and Stefan has no choice but to go with her.
At a meeting concerning the factory, one man complains that the concrete is disintegrating. Another says that the girders are breaking. The rain is bringing down tons of saltpeter. And the saltpeter will spread four of five miles out from the factory.
Opponents of the factory wrote in white paint: "Close down the factory!" Now the police have to see to it that the sentiment is erased.
At another meeting Bednarz really gets criticized. The accusation is that Stefan has failed to create a good atmosphere in the factory. Another man says the Stefan needs to let the workers do their work and make decisions. Bednarz neither sees or listens to the workers. He just doesn't have faith in the people. Bednarz's one-time boss says that after he left the factory, Bednarz really didn't share information with other important institutions that had been helpful previously to the work flow of the factory. The Minister has a question for Bednarz: "Will you work with the Party and the unions to eliminate this negative phenomenon concerning the factory?" Stefan responds that yes, he will do his best to cooperate with other institutions. But, he warns everyone, that he cannot change the way he works or the form it takes. He tells them that he can't switch personalities.
Stefan's assistant asks Jan what happened in the meeting. Jan tells him: "They tore a strip off him (Stefan)."
Alone with a top Party person, Stefan tells him frankly: "I want to leave here. . . . I think a mistake was made early on. I don't want to make it worse. And I don't want to lie." The big Party person asks if Stefan feels that he's at fault? Stefan answers: "No. I feel a fool." He also says he's just worn out. He tenders his resignation, but the Party fellow won't accept it.
Stefan has agreed to let the reporter he has known for awhile now work on an update report on the factory. But Stefan's assistant tells the reporter that he should have checked with him on the details of the filming. He stops him from filming the ordinary workers. Instead, he offers the reporter a number of skilled persons who can be interviewed very readily. The two men don't see eye to eye, so the assistant tells the reporter and his cameraman to leave the factory.
The secretary says that the journalist Galecki is here to talk with the director of the factory. Stefan tells the secretary to tell Galecki that he doesn't want to see him.
Galecki doesn't give up easily. He waits on a bench for Stefan's arrival at home and he gets to talk to the director. He says he was thrown out of the factory three days ago. Stefan admits that he believes the film will be against him, his methods or the factory.
The next morning Stefan picks up a newspaper and sees a story about "Events at Gdansk". The ship workers went on strike and many of them were shot down because of it. Lech comes over to Stefan and the two men talk about the article.
The men at the chemical factory must have read the article too. The workers file out of the factory and gather together where the director can see them below his building. Stefan goes down to talk to the strikers. He gets up on a car and tells the people that he thinks like them on the situation Poland is in these days. "I'm on you side." But they must act wise, not rashly.
Stefan knows it's near the end for him. He talks with his assistant and Lech. The assistant says goodbye to Stefan, who comments that at least his assistant is realistic.
Stefan plays with his grandson at home. He's a much more relaxed man now.
Spoiler Warning. Good film. The film is about the corrupt economic and political systems set up by the communists in occupied Poland. The hero of the story is a good man who tries to survive in this corrupt system. He takes the job of building and then managing a new chemical factory producing nitrates for agriculture. But he soon finds that so many of the decisions about the factory are completely out of his hands. Other people, cronies, run things the way things will be best for them and not for Poland or its people. In this world, the director of the factory always has to watch what he says. He has to tone down his natural tendency to be honest with people, because that's a sure way to get fired by the party apparatus. Having to run the factory within this corrupt operation, eventually leads to the director becoming psychologically burned out. He even tries to resign, but his resignation is not accepted. So now what's he going to do? Well a massacre of striking ship yard workers at Gdansk, Poland suddenly changes everything and the director sees a way out of the terrible system that is draining him of all his energy.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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