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Drogówka ‘Highway Patrol’ – Wojciech Smarzowski – and Polish corruption


Drogówka, ‘Highway Patrol’, the latest film by by Wojciech Smarzowski, has been a massive hit with Polish cinema audiences in 2013, with an audience of 691,290 by the middle of February.


Drogówka – ‘Highway Patrol’

Unsurprisingly, the film has attracted a great deal of controversy, with Poland’s deputy highway police chief, Krzystof Gajewski, putting a ban on his officers attending showings of the film in uniform.

Drogówka symbolically features seven highway policemen, who between them succeed in showing the seven deadly sins – lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride – in more than abundance.

These seven ‘heroes’ belch, fart, fuck and fight their way across our screens in graphic technicolor detail, in a rude introduction to what is often euphemistically called, ‘the Polsish reality’.

There is never a dull moment in a film which combines earthy comedy and gritty reality with action and suspense. It starts as somewhat brutal comedy, but ends as a thriller as the main character, Ryszard Król (BartLomej Topa), is arrested and accused of a crime he did not commit, and sets out to clear his name.

Obviously, it’s all a bit ‘over the top’ with the emphasis on the darker side of Poland, as we might expect in any Wojciech Smarzowski film. I don’t seriously suppose the dregs of the Polish police  to be anywhere near as gross as they have been portrayed, nor the powers that be in Warsaw and Brussels to be quite the monsters of amorality that they are depicted as being – well, at least I hope not. Even so, there still seems to be at least a grain of truth in Wojciech Smarzówskidepiction of his nation.

Regarding the prevalence of corruption and kombinować in Poland, let’s just listen to Smarzowski’s explanation as to why he made this film:

This was the situation in Poland – you got caught by the police, they opened the car door and said, “Where are you going in such a hurry?”. Then the negotiations would start.

It’s not so that you get such and such a fine. Up to a certain time I paid a bribe, and they would let me off without penalty points. But there came a point when I had had enough, I had children and the state then became my state, so I stopped paying bribes. But this film is about those who give and those who take. It’s a difficult situation.

Overall verdict: 9/10 A must for anyone with any serious interest in Polish film and Polish society.

Film trailer below. Polish film shoots itself in the foot again. As yet, there is no version with English sub-titles available.

Drogówka – promo

Olaf Cai Larsen

Norwegian Cai Larsen, a freelance software developer and amateur film-maker, moved to Szczecin four years ago after meeting his current partner, Monika. Whilst living in Poland, Cai has worked hard on his Polish through the study of classic Polish films. Cai will be contributing reviews of Polish movies for the Szczecinian.

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3 comments to “Drogówka ‘Highway Patrol’ – Wojciech Smarzowski – and Polish corruption”

  1. movie Drogówka ‘Highway Patrol’ with english subtitle · 2013/06/14 · Permalink Reply

    movie Drogówka ‘Highway Patrol’ with english subtitle

  2. [...] following seven traffic cops who represent the seven deadly sins. The results have courted controversy — Krzystof Gajewski, the deputy highway police chief, forbid officers from going to see the movie [...]

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