Every now and then I let a trailer or a word of mouth for a Polish movie fool me into going to the cinema. Every time I leave telling myself: “nevermore.” Nevermore shall I be so naïve as to fall for hype only to leave disgusted (and slightly glad that my firm belief in the suckiness of Polish cinema still holds true because we like our beliefs to turn out right, don’t we).
Well, the day to eat my words, and gladly, finally came. Bogowie (Gods) interested me with its trailer but I still expected to be heavily disappointed. Then I heard enthusiastic reviews and I thought “ugh, people are always so easy to please.” And then I saw the film.
Bogowie is the story of Zbigniew Religa, a legendary heart surgeon who carried out the first successful heart transplant in Poland when everybody considered it an unnecessary and unethical risk. I’m simplifying, Google it or watch the movie if you’re interested in the history. But even if you’re not, watch the movie because it’s damn brilliant where it has no right to be, proving me wrong. I hate medical dramas, their predictability, sentimentality and how genuinely scary they are but this film kept me engrossed and not grossed out (despite the very realistic – or at least bloody, I’m not a heart surgeon, as I’m sure you’re aware – depiction of operations on hearts). I think I ate a half of my scarf out of sheer suspense.
And here go even more reasons to watch the movie:
Actors. A wonderful lead in the person of Tomasz Kot with strong supporting cast. They create characters which are both realistic and likeable.
Tone. Despite the fact that the subject matter seems to invite sentimentality, pathos and gloom, the movie avoids all of this almost entirely (well, it retains the necessary amount, I guess). It’s dynamic, sometimes humorous and quite exciting. It is also, all in all, a very positive story which manages not to become hagiographic.
Interiors. The drab interiors of Polish apartments and public places of the 80s come to life. The movie is, in fact, a very good period drama.
It makes me really happy that Bogowie managed to revive my faith in Polish cinematography and I can try to look at the awfulness and cheerlessness of an average Polish movie as merely a failure and not a given.