Tomasz Wolski / PL, 2021 / 70 min.
Not the rebels, but the rulers are the “heroes” of this story about the Polish protests of 1970. Stop-motion animation and archive recordings of telephone conversations bring the machinations of the Communist crisis team to life.
When the shelves in Polish supermarkets run empty and food prices skyrocket around Christmas 1970, the shipyard workers of Gdansk have had enough and call a strike. Dozens of protesters quickly become hundreds, thousands, and then tens of thousands.
The Communist rulers are determined to avoid a repeat of the 1956 Prague uprising. When propaganda pamphlets have no effect, they send in militias, army units, and tanks. After eight days, with 41 dead and 1,164 wounded, the revolt is ended.
Documentaries about popular uprisings usually tell the story from the perspective of the protesters—the Ukrainian Maidan (2014) is a recent example. But, surprisingly, 1970 chooses the other side. Archive recordings of telephone conversations between Communist leaders serve as a basis. The members of the crisis team are portrayed in stop-motion animation as bureaucrats in drab rooms filled with cigarette smoke and darkened by heavy curtains. Archive footage of the riots outside shows the effect of their cynical machinations.
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