dir. Aleksander Ford, 1960
The film was a Polish candidate for an Oscar, but did not win a nomination.


Filmed with unprecedented momentum in Polish cinematography, the screen adaptation of Henryk Sienkiewicz’s novel premiered on July 15, 1960, the exact 550th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald. The film cost more than PLN 30 million, for which 10 full-length films could be financed in Poland at the time. The pace of production was also unusual: only a year and a half passed between the decision to make the film and its release. The most numerous battle scenes involved up to a thousand extras, accompanied by 350 horses. After the outdoor filming took place, the film crew moved to the halls of Wytwórnia Filmów Fabularnych [the Lodz Feature Film Studio], where the sets for the film were built.


The plot axis of the film is the Great War against the Teutonic Order. The extensive literary material was greatly simplified at the stage of the script, bringing to the fore the love story of Zbyszko of Bogdaniec (Mieczysław Kalenik) and Danusia (Grażyna Staniszewska), the lady-in-waiting of Duchess Anna and daughter of the indomitable Jurand of Spychów (Andrzej Szalawski), which takes place in turbulent times. The growing tension between the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Teutonic Order inevitably leads to war. In the tents at Grunwald, deliberations are underway on the warfare strategy. At this point, we can watch what is perhaps the film’s most famous and repeatedly paraphrased scene: an impatient Grand Master of the Teutonic Order sends heralds to King Władysław Jagiełło (Emil Karewicz) who hand him two bare swords to give the Polish knights courage. With the “Bogurodzica” hymn on their lips, the Crown army moves into battle. The battle claims thousands of victims, including the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order. The captured banners of the defeated order are laid at the feet of Jagiełło.


The first screening of the film took place at the Sports Hall in Lodz. The director and actors were also present at the premiere, which was received with great enthusiasm. “Knights of the Teutonic Order” was a huge success in terms of attendance, and the film was discussed not only by critics, but also by average citizens to whom the cinematic image of the historic battle ignited minds as far and wide as Poland.



Poniatowskiego Park

When one of the outdoor scenes had to be additionally shot in February 1960, the crew, instead of going in search of the real wilderness, moved just a few hundred meters from the Studio – to the part of the park where Mickiewicza Street runs today. There, Zbyszko (Mieczysław Kalenik), returning from Bogdaniec to the Mazovian court, rescues Jurand and his men entombed in a snow blizzard on their way to Ciechanów.

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