The Boys

 The Boys by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman – is a masterpiece in terms of perfect scenery and illustration (every scene has been painted). But that’s not the only reason.

The movie tells a great story about passion that turns into violent passion and creates tragic heroes. It’s a story we can still learn from, even though it was written almost two eras ago. Yes, the film is an adaptation of the book The Peasants by Stanisław Reymont, our/Polish national bard. The book is on the list of the Polish school curriculum, but at school, we Poles are usually not sufficiently prepared to understand a work of art written in a language from another era. The story also seemed out of date. This movie brings the story to life. But it is somehow different from the book. Other accents are emphasized. That’s a plus point. Yes, I agree that it’s good that the filmmakers made this story on their own terms. Nevertheless, it is a tribute to Reymont. The filmamkers understood their role because they cannot compete with Reymont and they do not try to. 

The filmmakers introduce the heroes and develop them according to their own ideas, as I said. We get to know them (the boys and the girls and other villigers from Lipce) one summer. Who are they according to the filmmakers? They are people, like you and me. Not good, not evil, and motivated by their selfish passions. The filmmakers make them all end very badly. The main hero, Antek, is a rich, proud, and handsome boy. At the end of the summer, he will lose his inheritance and have to live in disgrace. Even though he has the inner strength to do without money. He seems to be a proud man who never asks for help and never performs work below his expectations. Then we meet the love of his life – Jagna. She is very young, talented, and beautiful. She does not want to do the job beneath her dignity either. At the end of another season, she will be rich!… and one step closer to her own future tragedy…

… which her boys and their jealous girls will prepare. But come on, Jagna was not a child, she knows her worth and uses it. Her mother knows that too. The price for her beauty must therefore be high. Only the richest man from Lipce can afford it. She does not love him but have no strength to resist selling herself for money. Come on, would you resist if someone offered you to lie in the biggest house all day and admire your beauty? So how dare she be miserable and lean against the walls when all the girls are in the worst situation (have no money, no talents, no beauty) and have the strength to dance? That night, Jagna also dances with her suitor. She feels safe in his arms. Little wonder, he is a proud man and on this night Antek is even prouder – he has the treasure that everyone wants but cannot afford. So far so good, but he also has a wife. And to make matters worse, Jagna also has a husband who paid a lot for her beauty.  And they, I mean Jagna and Antek dance like a drunken in love? Unfortunately, it will only be her who will pay the highest price for the wrong dance.

To make her future situation even worse, everyone sees how selfishly she takes advantage of her power – her beauty.  That night, in those five minutes, her beauty shines so brightly that no girl can stand it. Who can stand the fact that one woman in one night has the power to take away most girls’ pride or even dignity? The other girls see how vapid they are. Their men only look at her, Jagna. The girls see it and do not even have the argument to protest. When the right moment comes, they will pay Jagna for making them so unhappy and small. And then Jagna’s husband, who is the only man who can afford something valuable, namely Jagna’s beauty, will soon die. No wonder, he is already an old man and cannot heal his war wounds as easily as a young man. And to make her unhappiness even worse, her greatest admirer, Antek, stops feeling passion for her. Soon the young man will fall in love with his wife. Well, at least he’s come to his mind, you could say. Unfortunately, in this case, it is too late for such a return to the right path. Revenge is coming!

Now the roles were reversed and it is Jagna who stands powerless before the whole congregation, who tear off her clothes, slap her, and beat her. 

So who is to blame for the tragedy? Well, the simple instincts… they can lead to tragedy, we know. It’s not just a tragedy for Jagna, but for a whole community with blood on their hands, as such a dishonored girl means symbolically killing her. Antek does not resist. How dare he? His wife and the whole community have forgiven him his sins. He has received his inheritance back. He has everything now, but he no longer even has his point of view. He is a prisoner of other people’s opinions. He is not proud anymore. He is the same as the others. And no one will be proud of that. In the final scene Jagna is winning even if she ends up with nothing – she has no home, no husband, no friends, and her beautiful face is covered in blood and dirt. The filmmakers show that she has won – the rain pouring down on her, symbolically washing away all her sins and the dirt she was sprinkled with. She is now innocent, still beautiful and clever. Her narcissism has turned into pride. Now only she can feel proud, no one else in the community. 

Can we be really proud of this movie or maybe learn something from the story? Of course – we can be proud that we can talk about our dark sides because we are no longer the same. Aren’t we? Aren’t we no longer jealous, no longer selfish and we no longer follow the hordes?



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Just Rethink it... and more. Come to that. Writer. Copywriter.

Writer, copywriter, essayist, screenwriter, prose writer and author of texts for academic media.
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