Dir. Andrzej Wajda, 1974
Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film

Based on Władysław Reymont’s novel of 1897, Andrzej Wajda’s The Promised Land is an epic period drama, which is interpreted as criticism of industrialisation and capitalist greed. Three friends of different nationality (starring Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Pszoniak and Andrzej Seweryn) develop a plan of investment in the textile industry in the rapidly developing city of Łódź. Eventually, the men put through the construction of a factory, albeit at a great cost, both in financial and personal terms. The stunning authenticity of the picture by the Polish director is, to a large extent, a result of perfectly preserved post-factory buildings, which were used as locations of Witold Sobociński’s, Edward Kłosiński’s and Wacław Dybowski’s photography. The directors of photography created an incredibly precise and wide panorama of a bustling metropolis, whose inhabitants become slaves to money – a place where moral values and ideals have been forgotten long ago in favour of cunning politics and greed for gain, symbolised by the final scene of suppressing workers’ strike and shot fired in the direction of a worker wielding a red banner.

You can read more about the film at the IMDB.com online database.

Karol Poznański’s Palace (University of Music in Lodz)
32 Gdańska Str.

In The Promised Land, we can admire the current seat of the University of Music at least six times. Its interiors appear on screen for the first time in one of the opening sequences of the film. Herman Bucholc (Andrzej Szalawski) and his wife (Jadwiga Andrzejewska) pray in German in their residence.

The University’s concert hall was used in the film as the counting room in Bucholc’s factory, where three other scenes take place. In the first one, Karol Borowiecki (Daniel Olbrychski) admonishes von Horn (Piotr Fronczewski), an apprentice in the counting room, that it is his task to work in the factory’s interest and not to show mercy to a woman whose husband has died in an accident at the plant. In the next one, after an accident in the production hall, Karol speaks with Bucholc, who has learnt about Borowiecki’s plan to open his own factory. The last scene shot in this location is the one in which von Horn, thrown off-balance, doesn’t mince his words and socks it to Bucholc what he thinks about him. When von Horn leaves, Bucholc, initially stunned, starts to ferociously bash his servant August (Mieczysław Waśkowski) with a stick.

Also the garden that surrounds the palace and the representational drive facing 1 Maja Street appear in the film. The first one constitutes the scenery of the immodest party organised at Kessler’s (Zbigniew Zapasiewicz). When Karol finds Moryc among the party guests, he tries to deliver him the message about the increase in the customs on cotton. To that end, he sobers him up in front of the entrance to Kessler’s palace.

"Promised land", dir. Andrzej Wajda, photo: Renata Pajchel © WFDiF (former Zebra Film Studio)

Edward Herbst's Villa (Herbst Palace Museum)
72 Przędzalniana Str.

The interiors of Herbst’s Palace appear in Wajda’s film in the scene in which Łódź Jews pray. The scene is interspersed with shots of workers heading to the factory, filmed in Pabianice. One of the three praying men is merchant Grunspan (Stanisław Igar).

Karol Scheibler's Spinning Mill
25c Tymienieckiego Str.

The monumental spinning mill, which was part of Karol Scheibler’s plant, appears four times in the film. In the opening sequence presenting masses of workers flowing into the city, we see the main entrance gate and the stairs leading to the pond at the back of the building. The same place appears in the scenes of rides of Anna and Karol’s father through Łódź, and the tryst between Lucy Zuckerowa and Karol, during which she informs Borowiecki that he’ll be the father of her child. For the last time the building appears in the epilogue – the factory now belongs to Borowiecki and there are striking workers sitting in front of its gate.

Izrael Poznański’s Spinning Mill (Andel’s Hotel)
17 Ogrodowa Str.

The building of the former spinning mill in Poznański’s plant was used in Wajda’s film as the facade of Bucholc’s factory. It is here where one of the most famous scenes in both the film and the novel takes place: count Trawiński (Andrzej Łapicki), after an unlucky conversation about a loan with Borowiecki, leaves the factory and in the street meets Halpern (Włodzimierz Boruński), who praises the city. After that conversation, the count, who has unsuccessfully tried to get a loan from Borowiecki, gets on a cab and takes his own life by shooting himself in the head (this scene, however, was shot in Pabianice). Earlier in the same place, van Horn, Bucholc’s apprentice, advises a young widow to sue the plant for compensation in relation to the death of her husband, which took place during his work at the factory.

After Bucholc’s death, we see shots of his servant, August, walking along the factory walls with an empty wheelchair that used to belong to the factory owner.

"Promised land", dir. Andrzej Wajda, photo: Renata Pajchel © WFDiF (former Zebra Film Studio)

White Factory (Central Museum of Textiles)
282/284 Piotrkowska Str.

Ludwik Geyer's so called White Factory served in Wajda’s film as several locations. It was here where the film-makers arranged the interiors of the Baums’ factory – as of then, an obsolete weaving mill, which functioned based on hand looms. We see it in the scene of a family dispute, when Max (Andrzej Seweryn) is trying to get from his father (Kazimierz Opaliński) the money necessary to build his own factory.

The yard in front of the eastern wing of the complex and the inner factory court were used in the film as the premises of Kessler’s business. They are visible in the scene preceding the tragically culminated fight with foreman Malinowski (Jerzy Obłamski), the father of Zośka, who was seduced by the industrialist. Interestingly enough, at the very moment when a trusted employee (Tomasz Lengren) warns Kessler about the meeting with the young textile worker’s father, in the background we can see a protruding outhouse, whose interiors were used as the counting room of the factory newly opened by Karol, Moryc and Max in the scene of conversation between Zucker (Jerzy Nowak) and Borowiecki.

The European Institute in Łódź
262/264 Piotrkowska Str.

The representative staircase with stained-glass windows and the ground-floor hall of the today’s European Institute can be admired in three scenes taking place at the restaurant – meeting place of the financial circles of Łódź. It’s there where Borowiecki meets Muller (Franciszek Pieczka), who on his way to the theatre proposes Karol employment at his factory. Interestingly enough, in the film the restaurant exit is situated at ⅓ 6 Sierpnia Street.

"Promised land", dir. Andrzej Wajda, photo: Renata Pajchel © WFDiF (former Zebra Film Studio)

Karol Scheibler’s “New Weaving Mill”
187 Kilińskiego Str.

The extensive building of weaving mill at Scheibler’s plant (later Uniontex) was used in The Promised Land in those scenes in which it was necessary to present the operations of Bucholc’s textile factory. It appears three times in the film. Borowiecki, tending to the looms, is visited by count Trawiński, who tells him about his difficult financial situation and asks him for a loan. Later, the very same interior is seen on screen in the scene of conversation between Karol and Bucholc, strolling around his plant. For the last time, the operating looms and female textile workers appear in the film right after Bucholc’s death – the owner dies, yet the factory keeps working on.

Museum of the City of Lodz
15 Ogrodowa St.

The most magnificent factory owner's palace in Łódź, or rather its interior, in Wajda's film played the residence of Herman Bucholtz. The wooden staircase and the dining room were used by the filmmakers as locations in the scenes of Karol's visit at the industrialist's house. Bucholc welcomes his guest in the sumptuous hall and instructs Borowiecki to read several private letters for his amusement. Bucholc finds the reading of the insulting letters most amusing then orders Karol to burn them in the fireplace, as well as the correspondence asking for financial support for the former employees of the plant who are unable to work.

1/3 6 Sierpnia Str., 65/67 Piotrkowska Str.

In The Promised Land, in the tenement house on 6 Sierpnia Street there was a popular restaurant, the meeting place of lodzermenschen (although, as we know, the scenes in its interiors were shot in Robert Schweikert’s Palace at 262/264 Piortkowska Street). After the meeting at the restaurant stairs, Borowiecki and Muller go outside and, continuing their conversation, cross the street and go across the courtyard towards Victoria Theatre (i.e. the building of the former Polonia Cinema at 67 Piotrkowska Street).

"Promised land", dir. Andrzej Wajda, photo: Renata Pajchel © WFDiF (former Zebra Film Studio)

Księży Młyn

The workers’ housing development in Księży Młyn can be seen on screen several times. It is here where Zośka Malinowska lives in one of the houses, while the last scene shown in the film – workers and gendarmes standing facing one another – takes place in front of the school building. After a while, a worker running with a red banner in his hand drops dead, hit with a bullet.

Railway ramp in Magazynowa Str.

On the ramp running along Scheibler’s railway siding, Max and Karol talk about the situation on the cotton market and greet Moryc coming back from his cotton shopping trip to Hamburg. Then, all three of them admire the load bought by Moryc and meet Mrs and Mr Socha (Janina Grzegorczyk and Krzysztof Majchrzak), peasants from Kurów, who have earlier been employed by Karol to work in his factory.

9 Św. Franciszka z Asyżu Str.

At this address the fictitious factory of the three main protagonists of the film was created. The premises of a former brickyard were used to build the decorations. Also in this place the fictitious house in which Karol and Anka live after they have come from Kurów to Łódź is located.

"Promised land", dir. Andrzej Wajda, photo: Renata Pajchel © WFDiF (former Zebra Film Studio)

Moniuszki Str.

Along Moniuszki Street runs the route of Bucholc’s funeral procession. At some point, the news about an increase in the customs on cotton imported to Trieste and Hamburg reach the participants of the obsequies, which inspires panic, i.a. in Grunspan (Stanisław Igar) and Grosgluck (Bogusław Sochnacki), who order to turn back the horses to their counting rooms, without paying heed to the circumstances.

Maurycy Poznański’s Palace (Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź)
36 Więckowskiego Str.

In Wajda’s film, Maurycy Poznański’s Palace starred as Muller’s residence, built by the owner as dowry for his daughter. Despite the fact that they own a stately palace, the Mullers prefer to live in a modest hut located on the other side of the street. On screen, the current seat of the Art Museum can be admired only from the outside, because rooms in Scheibler’s Palace were used as the interiors of Muller’s Palace.

Karol Scheibler’s Palace (Film Museum in Łódź)
1 Zwycięstwa Square

In the seat of the Film Museum, the scenes in which the factory owner Muller proudly shows Karol around his splendorous palace were created. During the presentation of the rooms, Mada charges in, while Muller himself explains it to the bewildered Borowiecki that nobody lives in the palace, but he has ordered its construction, because people have to know that Muller can afford his own palace, just like the other factory owners.

In the final scene of the film, when Karol already is Mada Muller’s husband, also the interiors of Scheibler’s Palace were used. It is there where Borowiecki and Mada throw a party during which the industrialists of Łódź observe the striking workers and take the decision to use arms against them.

"Promised land", dir. Andrzej Wajda, photo: Renata Pajchel © WFDiF (former Zebra Film Studio)

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