Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
The real name of the film – Sami Swoi – may be translated as ‘Our Folks’ or ‘All Friends Here’. The movie, by Sylwester Checinski, is the first part of the trilogy – the other two were called: ‘Nie ma mocnych’ (There Are No Strong Ones) and ‘Kochaj albo rzuc’ (Love Or Ditch). This black and white film (colorized in 2000), is one of the best and the most popular Polish comedies ever. It tells the story of two always quarrelling families that were resettled from the East (so called Kresy) to the West (the Regained Territories) after the borders of Poland were changed.
The story of the two families, Kargul and Pawlak, entertains already couple of generations that get to know them and the history of their argument that took place during the times when they were neighbours living in Kresy. One of Karguls plowed couple of inches into Pawlak’s territory what caused the row in which one of Pawlaks hit the member of the other family and – in fear of retribution – emigrated to the United States. Although the two families, when the Second World War ends, are resettled into the West, it appears that they are still doomed to be each others’ neighbours. But the film starts with Jan (John) return to Poland and find the two families living peacefully. While he cannot understand what caused the reversal of this situation, his brother – Kazimierz – tells the story of how Karguls and Pawlaks came to terms through their children’s marriage.
The movie does not only show a piece of history but also the life of ‘real’ people who, no matter the conditions, would stick in the past and live the aversion that their fathers shared towards each other. Although the plot might seem sad, the movie is a fantastic comedy with great and strong characters. One may feel that although Karguls and Pawlaks show disappreciation towards each other, they are happy to be settled among the folks they knew from before the Second World War. There is also the happy ending that adds to the value and makes the story even more pleasant to watch.
‘Sami Swoi’ is especially loved for verbal humour, numerous funny situations and comic characters that maybe seem to be overstressed but also seem to be simple and true. Everyday life in one of the small villages of Poland does not necessarily bring boredom – as our main characters prove. Most of the time, however, it is not life – but the stubbornness of Kargul and Pawlak – that causes confusion in the village and therefore smile on our face.
I think I am unable to count how many times I watched this film. But what is most important, each time I see it, I truly laugh. This comedy is really worth strong recommendation!