The Peasants (2023)

November 21st, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dirs/scr: DK Welchman, Hugh Welchman. Poland/Serbia/Lithuania |  114′

Poland’s Academy Award 2024 hopeful is another animated portrait from directing duo DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman who won an Oscar nomination for their painterly drama about Vincent Van Gogh Loving Vincent.

Based on novel from Nobel prize winner Wladyslaw Reymont this is a tale of love and revenge set in a 19th century Polish village of peasant farmers. The narrative reworks themes of male dominance in that are still relevant today, a century later: women, especially good-looking ones, are expected to submit to the subconscious will of men, and are punished, psychologically or materially, if they refuse to toe the line.

The focus here is beautiful young Jagna (Kamila Urzedowska) who refuses to conform to traditional village life and finds herself increasingly at odds with women who are envious of her power and beauty, and men who are desperate to bed her. Jagna tolerates a loveless marriage to a controlling much older husband Boryna (Miroslaw Baka) by having an affair with his estranged married son Antek (Robert Gulaczyk) and escaping into a creative world of her own, representated by bird motifs.

Capturing the seasons of the year in a pre-revolutionary Poland, the directors combine pencil sketches, expressionist brush work and photographic realism, blending oil paintings from Polish 19th artists: Michal Gorstkin-Wywiorski, Ferdynand Ruszczyc and Jozef Chelmonski over live-action footage of actors to create another fluid animated drama that feels contemporary while rooted firmly in the past. @MeredithTaylor

IN UK CINEMAS from 8 December from Vertigo Releasing | The Peasants is Poland’s Academy submission 2024

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