This is another title in the series of Masterpieces of Polish Cinema. One pleasure of the series is in revisiting familiar masterworks: another is the chance to catch [as in this case] very rare films. To the best of my knowledge this film has not enjoyed a general UK release, so this is a not to be missed opportunity. It was directed by Andrej Wajda in 1975, the outstanding filmmaker in post-WWII Poland. The film runs for 170 minutes, which is the full length release version. It was filmed in the European widescreen ration of 1.66:1 and with Orwocolor, an East German variant on Agfa. This colour stock has particular characteristic including often fairly dark hues. These work well with some of the expressionist techniques used in the Cinematography by Waclaw Dybowski, Edward Klosinski and Witold Sobocinski.
The film is set in C19th Lodz, then a centre for textile manufacture, and follows the power struggles within a small group of would-be capitalist entrepreneurs. The story give expression to the dominant values in 1970s Poland. But there are also overtones reminiscent of some of the characters found in the C19th novels of Charles Dickens and also in the great cycle of Les Rougon-Macquart novels by Emile Zola. This is the period of capitalism, ‘red in tooth and claw’. This is an epic film, full of character and situation and filmed with impressive style.