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‘300 Miles to Heaven’ a film review

As a child I loved that film – and I still do although I look at it nowadays from different point of view. The two main characters (brothers Zielinski) seemed to me heroes, maybe even a little bit naughty boys in search of adventure. I always wondered how the two teenagers could so easily leave poor but loving family and set off to the unknown. Now I perceive them as victims of the system who wanted to help the family that lived in terribly bad conditions. Maybe they even realised what mistake they made and would come back – however, the life waiting for them in Poland was even worse than before.

The plot of the film ‘300 Miles to Heaven’ was based on a true story of 15-year-old Adam and 12-year-old Krzysztof Zielinski who hid under the truck that took them to Sweden. Living in a very poor family in Communist-controlled Poland, the brothers wanted to help their parents by escaping to one of the Western countries. Probably their original plan was to take a plane to the USA but as they encountered obstacles with getting to Warsaw airport they headed to Swinoujscie port and hidden under the car they took the ferry from Swinoujscie to Ystad. Swedish government twice denied the asylum for the two boys. After a press campaign of Polish immigrants (members of Solidarity movement) and deprival of parents custody by Polish government, Zielinski brothers were placed in refugee camp and later with Polish-Swedish family. Although they bounded their life with Sweden, they visit their relations in Poland very often.

The film was directed by Maciej Dejczer (screenplay written by Dejczer and Cezary Harasimowicz) in 1989 – about 5 years after the actual events had happened. ‘300 Miles to Heaven’ was widely acclaimed and won an award at the European Film Awards. Although some of the facts of the real escape were changed, the story of brothers Zielinski served as an inspiration. The film is social-political drama based in 1985. It is one of the best images of Communist Poland showing the hardships of life – unbearable for the teenagers. In ‘300 Miles to Heaven’ the boys escape to Denmark where they are helped by Polish journalist who fights for asylum for the young immigrants. Grzes and Jedrek Kwiatkowski (how they were called in the movie) wish of a better life in the West of Europe from where they could help their poor parents. The young actors (Rafal Zimowski and Wojciech Klata playing Kwiatkowski brothers) created tragic heroes who quickly grow up under the circumstances that the life provided them. Music, written by Michal Lorenc, is worth attention as well as play of the actors acting parents who in desperation, after having been deprived parents custody, tell their beloved sons not to come back to Poland where they would have been placed in an orphanage.

Wonderful film based on a wonderful story. No need to say more – you simply need to watch it!

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