Rome in Poland
Richard Monte presents the forthcoming Polish film adaptation of Quo Vadis.
Henryk Sienkiewicz is arguably Poland’s best known novelist outside his home country. His fame rests on one book, the novel Quo Vadis (first published in 1896), which has been translated into forty-eight languages and published in more than eighty countries. It is essentially a love story set in first-century Rome, in which the early Christians struggle against the might of the pagan Roman Empire. Although it has been the inspiration for numerous films, including the Hollywood production fifty years ago, until now it has never been adapted for the big screen in Poland. This month a major new adaptation by the Polish film director, Jerzy Kawalerowicz and the Chronos Film Production Company, will bring Quo Vadis to a new international audience. To coincide with the premier, an exhibition will open at the Warsaw National Museum, looking at the way in which Polish artists were inspired by the novel and its depiction of ancient Rome.
The film’s premier comes at an important time for Poland. Over the last few decades the country has felt closer to Rome than ever before, through the influence of the Polish Pope John Paul II. Christianity played a significant part in recent years in hastening the collapse of the old Communist regime and the country is now on the brink of joining the European Union, bringing it closer to the West than Russia.