Cold War - A tale of defenseless love in a Poland of Communist control


A beauty peeking behind the broken faces,

the torn clothes, the dirty hands of a destructive war.

A pain that stems from songs of negligence

for a land of thick white snow

Which, falling, covers the soldiers' breath.

The peasant sings about Maja's skirt,

about her pink uncles who watches dancing underneath it.

Miniature villages hide angelic voices.

The melancholic colourless images of rural grounds

And the heartbreaking singing that introduce the film  

Immediately remind one of Bela Tarr’s Damnation.

But soon enough, the plot starts to to follow a more linear narrative path.

When Wictor and Irena make their


They emerge as a couple of nonconformists,

Set out to collect and train the rustic voices of Poland.

It's this simplicity and purity of the peasant,

The cornerstone of their music academy

They take him by the hand and teach him how to dance

Teach her how to sing

In front of crowds of thrill and passion.

But as the academy grows and prospers,

The Communist regime becomes stronger

Amid this cheering crowd stands powerful, the threat.

An agricultural Poland, saved by Nazi rule,

Is pushed now to a different dance macabre.

A threat of an oppressive establishment that is about to turn their purity into propaganda.

While Wiktor tries to fight for his liberal ideas,

and save the school from serving as a tool for the spread of communism

He finds himself singing about Zula's skirt,

his brave, yet audacious student, who gives herself completely into his charm and seductive authority.  

While their love grows larger,

the school's liberty and autonomy grows smaller and smaller

until it can't fit into Wiktor's heart.

He goes to Paris.

Where is she?

Lukasz Zal's cinematography accompanies their characters to their utter humiliation

Through heartbreaking deliveries of traditional Polish melodies

a love story untangles and then tangles again.

It slips from a painted red Poland

to a multicoloured Paris where jazz and swing dominate the cabarets,

and from obstacles that go beyond their passionate nature

to always arrive in a state of political oppression.

Pawel Pawlikowski makes us wonder if the title of the film bypasses its seemingly political essence

to actually refer to its main protagonists.

their fate seems inevitable, almost... necessary.

Even in their sweetest moments, that find their completion

in the dangerous Paris of the West

they both seem to drown into their weaknesses

and spit them towards one another.

FilmMaya Sfakianaki