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"Łódź podwodna" [The Submarine]

"Powściągliwość i Praca" [Self-Restraint and Work], a monthly publication established by monks of the Order of St. Michael, was published for the first time in the year 1898 and released regularly until the outburst of the first world war. It was reactivated in 1925; however, the next world war brought an end to it, seemingly, forever, as in the reality of the new political system after 1945, there was no place for this title on the publishing market. And then, in 1982 – during the period of martial law – the monks of the Order of St. Michael decided to reactivate their monthly once again.

They managed to do it in 1983. The 10th anniversary of this event was an opportunity for the creators of the film to remind the audience of the circumstances of this reactivation and to talk to the people, to whom the editorial board served as a „submarine”. They hoped it would take them all the way to freedom. Sociologist Paweł Śpiewak met Halina Bortnowska in 1982. She asked him to name a journalist, who could reactivate the „Self-Restraint and Work” monthly. He did: he proposed his brother, Jan, unemployed after the infamous verification of journalists.

On the other hand, Jan Dworak offered Antoni Pawlak a flat-rate remuneration for management of the poetry department. Thus, step by step, the team was developing; under the leadership of bishop Jan Chrapek, they could write, write the truth, and survive. The editorial board – as those employed then recall – was somewhat like a Bergman’s house, where everyone quarreled. It consisted of very different people, presenting very different views, which resulted in great tensions regardless of the topic. Some of them were firm believers, others were searching for faith, also those who found their way to the Church thanks to the „Self-Restraint and Work” monthly, as well as atheists, facing their own moral dilemmas of whether they could work for a periodical of this kind. The father superior of the order of St. Michael, father Walerian Moroz, preferred not to see this. He looked at them only from the perspective of their competences.

In 1988, Jan Śpiewak, the deputy editor-in-chief, died. This untimely death was the beginning of the end of the original team. Changes came soon. Almost everyone went to work at the Round Table and at the emerging periodicals. Father Chrapek, left alone with his deputy, Ewa Polak, felt no resentment, although he missed them. He understood this was the end of a certain stage in the modern history of the country. And he was glad to see that those who left „Self-Restraint and Work”, brought something unique with them to their new workplaces. Of course, the periodical of the order of St. Michael did not cease to exist, but this is another story.

In the film, former workers and their superiors recall the reactivation of the monthly: Bishop Jan Chrapek, Father Walerian Moroz, Paweł Śpiewak, Jan Dworak, Antoni Pawlak, Jacek Żakowski, Elżbieta Hudon-Pieniak, Ewa Polak, Ireneusz Krzemiński and Piotr Matywiecki.

Based on: PAT

"Łódź podwodna" [The Submarine]
Directing: Stanisława Domagalska
Production: Prasa & Film Ltd.
Year of production: 1994