Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
One of commercial television channels in Poland has released series of films based on true stories. These are, however, not unknown stories that we get to know when the movie is made. All of the films are based on cases that were popular and known in Poland. As not all of them have been available for public yet, and I have not watched all of the parts myself, I wish to make a review of only one part called ‘Silence’.
This part of the series tells a story of avalanche in the Tatra mountains that took place in 2003. Although the Tatras seem to be not too high and quite safe mountains, in comparison with the Alps for example, but still can cause death to tourists that decide to climb it unprepared. In January 2003 a school trip, consisting of members of a sport club in secondary school of Tychy, visited the Tatras to climb the highest peak of Polish part of the mountains – Rysy. 21 secondary students decided to reach the peak of Rysy with the assistance of 4 teachers. As the weather conditions were bad, as there was heavy snow, part of the group decided to stay in the mountain shelter during the time when the rest climbs Rysy. On the way the group was taken by avalanche that fell down from Rysy into the lake. Some of the survived, one person was found already dead, one person died after having been brought to the hospital. There were, however, still 6 bodies remaining in the snow. As the rescuers needed to wait till the snow melts, the last body was found in June.
The movie, although telling a true story, does not focus on the facts. It shows more the dilemma of the families and their sorrow after losing their children. The director, however, did not base the scenes of the movie on the history of one of the grieving families but he joined the facts from the stories he heard from them. By getting to know the details of the tragedy in the Tatras, one can also experience human dimension of the sorrow that a parent feels after losing a child.
The incident connected with taking a school trip to the mountain trip in Winter had its follow up in the court. The main organizer – a teacher who was previously inspiration for the kids in climbing the mountains – was accused of accidental killing by disregarding bad weather condition and taking a group of teenagers to Rysy during avalanche risk.
The film does not assess behavior of the teacher, it does not bring answers why the tragedy took place. It is, however, a finely made film. It is also a story and tribute to secondary students from Tychy that lost their lives and reminder that one should not disregard the danger that mountains – especially in Winter – bring.