Central European Filmmakers Are Reframing the 20th Century

James Norton in Mr. Jones. (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
From Poland to East Germany to Hungary, new films are giving Western audiences a much darker perspective on the political earthquakes that shaped our world.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE F ilm by film, Central European directors are giving us a new look at the 20th century we thought we understood, and the results are unsettling.

It is not surprising that the epicenter of this historic reappraisal is Poland, because Poland’s experience of the last century was a kind of mirror image of the West’s. Its World War I ended with the triumphant rebirth of the Polish nation-state, rather than disillusion. Its World War II ended with the Western allies’ betrayal of its political aspirations. Its Cold War was spent not fearing the outbreak of action, but enduring the grinding imposition of


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