Movies Reviews

‘The Peasants’ packs a long, 19th century story into a lush film

Image from "The Pesants" official Facebook page.

Przysietnica, POLAND – Film-maker duo DK (Dorota Kobiela) Welchman and Hugh Welchman revolutionized the world of cinema with the first fully painted animated feature, the 2017 film Loving Vincent.

The directors, whose work about artist Vincent van Gogh was nominated Best Animated Feature Film from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, prove their brilliance once again with their newest production, The Peasants.

Released in 2023, The Peasants is based on author Władysław Reymont’s Nobel Prize-winning novel, written in four parts between 1904 and 1909.

It mainly focuses on the story of Jagna – a young, vulnerable woman living in the 19th century village of Lipce. Her desire to pursue an individual and fulfilling life conflicts with the deeply rooted patriarchal norms to which all residents submit.

Jagna’s striking beauty develops into a source of her undoing when she becomes an object of unhealthy desire from men who hold high positions in the village hierarchy.

The production sheds light on various aspects of the novel and viewers can interpret it on many levels. One of the main themes of the book is the fascination for rural life far from the tumult and chaos of the city.

Elements of this phenomenon are observed in works by many different artists, one of whom is Stanislaw Wyspiański.

The story is captivating and dynamic. Viewers feel compassion for the young heroine who desires to find path to happiness and fulfillment in her dull life and resentment for Antek, Jagna’s lover, who decides to stay silent when she is being banished from the village by furious residents.

This vivid picture is enriched by a magnificent and soulful soundtrack, which becomes a crucial element of this cinematic experience.

Undoubtedly, the Welchmans’ work does not fully capture the plot complexity of Reymont’s novel, in which he presents almost a kaleidoscopic outlook on 19th century village and life of its inhabitants. But managing to convert almost 900 pages of action into a two-hour long production is an incredibly challenging task.

Magdalena Tokarczyk is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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