In Polish history books, Gierek is synonymous with the 1970s, a decade of initial fast economic growth that turned into a wide-ranging crisis, which, according to many, ultimately precipitated the fall of communism in the country in 1989.
Director Michał Węgrzyn’s Gierek charts the communist leader’s life between 1970, when he assumed power in dramatic circumstances, to 1982, when he was released from internment during Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski’s martial law regime.
“Edward Gierek has been judged … without ever having the opportunity to present his case on radio or television,” said Janusz Heathcliff Iwanowski, who co-wrote and produced the film.
“According to the old Roman principle audiatur et altera pars, we need to listen to the other side as well,” he added.
'Not a hagiography'
The lead character in Gierek is played by Michał Koterski, who put on an extra 21 kilograms for the role.
“Certainly this role was a big challenge for me, something I had never dealt with before,” he told reporters.
Iwanowski, meanwhile, emphasised that Gierek is “not a hagiography.” He said: “We have depicted the mistakes, the reprehensible things he did as a politician.”
“It’s a truthful movie, a movie about a human being,” Iwanowski told Poland's PAP news agency. "Everyone will draw the conclusions for themselves."
'Reasonably decent figure'
According to historian Andrzej Zawistowski, Gierek seemed “a full-blooded and reasonably decent figure” compared with other leaders in communist-era Poland.
Moreover, his name “has become a profitable marketing slogan” as the passage of time left the public with “only the good memories,” of the 1970s, Zawistowski said in an interview with the PAP news agency.
The biopic stars leading Polish actors Magdalena Kożuchowska, Agnieszka Więdłocha and Antoni Pawlicki.