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Death of the President
Death of the President
Actors: Duszynski, Walczewski, Mrozewski
Director: Jerzy Kawalerowicz
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2008     2hr 25min

From master director Jerzy Kawalerowicz (Austeria; Mother Joan of the Angels; Night Train) comes this gripping drama ripped from the pages of the history books. When Poland is reborn after World War I, Professor Gabriel Na...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Duszynski, Walczewski, Mrozewski
Director: Jerzy Kawalerowicz
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Facets
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/29/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/1978
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1978
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 25min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Polish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Death of the President: An Unforgettable Film.
Manny | Miami, Fl | 11/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Kawalerowicz's films are cool, enigmatic, dense. They fill the screen with overt images of love, cruelty, fanatiscm, and existential rythms of emptiness. Mother Joan of the Angels and Faraon stand as his most symbollic and tender, poetic and ravaging. Death of the President is a more historical film with a penchant for the detailed period drama, as well as real-life events. His characters emanate--as a result of their repressed love and desire--their manifestations in the way of fanatic outlooks and hysteria. Kawalerowicz is comparable to Kieslowski, Bunuel, Tarkovsky, Godard, Antonioni, and Bergman in that he tried to illustrate the desperation, hypocrisy, and ulterior yet futile ambitions that accompany our lofty souls as we walk as phantoms in a powerless world. Death of the President is an unforgettable film and one that should nonetheless and without reluctance belong to any collector and admirer of Polish cinema, or cinema as a whole entity. Why doesn't Criterion put out any of Kawalerowicz's films?"
Smierc Prezydenta is great for those who would like to learn
Richard J. Brzostek | New England, USA | 04/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"With the end of World War I, Poland was placed back on the map after being partitioned for 123 years by its neighbors. With Poland's rebirth, there was a lot of excitement and tension with the direction the government will take and who would lead the country. The title of Death of the President (Smierc Prezydenta) gives away what will happen, but how it happens and builds up makes it suspenseful.

The movie goes back and forth between the events leading up to the assassination of Gabriel Narutowicz and the trail of the assassin Eligiusz Niewiadomski. We see the whole hubbub in the presidential selection, in which there were five rounds of voting before a candidate won. Once Narutowicz was selected, there was an outcry because he didn't have the support of the conservatives and was considered a radical. The newly selected president is put in a hard place because he has little support, even from those who selected him.

While most of the film focuses on the events leading up to the assassination, Niewiadomski's speech in court adds a lot to the story. He is eloquent with his words and gives a forceful speech. Marek Walczewski truly did outstanding in acting the infamous role of Eligiusz Niewiadomski.

For the most part, Smierc Prezydenta portrays the events without bias. The events were complicated and the film attempts to show us the issues that were at hand in the election. I do think there are two small pro-communist propaganda parts that were thrown in to please the censors or perhaps a refection of the director's own feelings. I do not think these two parts take away or distract from the overall film and it was common for Polish films of the Communist era to have a pro-communist reference tacked on somewhere.

Jozef Pilsudski is portrayed in the movie slightly negatively. This was surprising to me because most of the time he is heaped praise and considered a hero. Of course, Pilsudski gave the Russians a hard time in 1919-21 Polish-Soviet War and was disliked by Communist Russia. All in all, it is not a blatantly negative portrayal and the film probably made a good attempt to be fair.

Smierc Prezydenta is directed by the late Jerzy Kawalerowicz. Of the half-dozen films I have watched by Kawalerowicz, all have been a pleasure and none disappointed me. He is a very talented director and his work is worth getting to know.

Smierc Prezydenta is great for those who would like to learn more about Polish history in an entertaining way. It is a great political drama that recreates history and captures the feeling of the time.