‘The Champion of Auschwitz’ is the third movie in direction by Maciej Barczewski, who changed his calling at the age of forty and decided to go to film school.
Barczewski clearly focuses on biographical and historical films based on facts, which we could already see in his first production in which he told the story of Jerzy Górski – a man who overcame drug addiction and broke the world record in triathlon.
The film’s main character is Tadeusz ‘Teddy’ Pietrzykowski (Piotr Głowacki), a boxer fighting in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The prisoner arrived in the camp in the first transport, and they called him a prisoner number 77. At this point, the drama’s action begins. It will squeeze a ton of tears from the viewers and make our bodies shiver. The brutality of this movie will make you want to turn off the TV or leave the movie room and never think about it again. However, the fact that it is not fiction will make you feel obligated to watch this movie to pay tribute to history and its victims.
In the movie, we find out how Teddy landed in Auschwitz and how he dealt with it. Firstly he looks like he got used to it (as much as you can actually get used to this kind of terrible treatment). Although finally, he finds a fighting spirit. Wanting to help a young boy, he chooses himself to fight with one of the SS guards. Just then, Nazis realize what good of fun it could be to watch a prisoner fighting with guards.
There are few moments when he wants to resign. Still, he chooses a higher good and decides to help other prisoners by fighting and smuggling food and drugs from the hospital.
From the very beginning, you can see that the cast of the film was well-chosen. I’ve seen many movies with Piotr, and with most of them being comedies, I couldn’t imagine him in this role. Although, I must admit, after seeing the movie twice, I believe they couldn’t pick a better person to portray Teddy.
Piotr did a great job of playing the role and conveying emotions that could accompany the boxer at that time. His gaze, when he hugs Janek after the news of the death of one of the prisoners, fills us with sadness and a feeling of helplessness. I was equally shocked in one of the final scenes when the camera follows close Tadeusz’s face. The actor looks straight at the camera, looks straight ahead as if he saw hope for something better there. His facial expressions, eyesight, and body posture reflect the suffering and fatigue of the protagonist.
Also, Marcin Bosak did very well. It seems like he finds himself the best in the roles of bad guys. All of the actors definitely deserve applause, especially the ones who played Germans and spoke perfect German. If I weren’t Polish and didn’t know those actors, I would never believe it was them talking.
I think it’s tough to show the reality of life in Auschwitz. Some of the things in the ‘The Champion of Auschwitz’ don’t look exactly right. For example, the pyjamas that they were wearing seem to be in pretty good shape. Moreover, people are sitting around and loudly laughing at Nazi soldiers or planning the runaway. All of those would definitely end up with death in real life.
Undoubtedly, the movie over-coloured many details. People definitely had to grow up quicker than usual. However, young Janek is portrayed as a teenager who completely forgot how teenagers are supposed to be.
He doesn’t argue with the reality and isn’t interested in anything a young boy would normally be.
Some of his statements sound like he took them from an old man’s mouth, e.g.: ‘My dad used to say that before birth we are all angels and then we fall down here, to Earth. Only the best of us are going back up.’ The only thing that seemed natural was his interest in a young girl with whom he fell in love.
It’s good to remind people of what has happened in the past, but we need to check the facts to make this kind of a movie. Nevertheless, the film is definitely worth watching. I will recommend it to everyone but remember that some things were slightly different.
‘You can watch The Champion of Auschwitz’ in the cinemas now.