In December 1970, large protests broke out in northern Polish cities such as Gdynia, Szczecin and Gdańsk. The reason for the protest was the government’s sudden announcement of an increase in the price of the most important food products, which brought tens of thousands of angry workers to the streets. It was also the year when a quarter of a century of communism was celebrated in Poland, and the local documentarian Thomas Wolski brings us the story of how the then government dealt with the protests. And he recorded a shocking and warning documentary made up of archival footage, and he reconstructed the events according to the preserved correspondence of the team assembled to resolve the state of emergency.
As there is, of course, no video footage of their meeting, these segments are animated and all these characters from the Polish Politburo are made of grotesque dolls that perfectly show who and what these people were. The way these communist officials decided to deal with the citizens, the average Poles, who, like the banners hung by some of the protesters, say that the strike is not for political reasons, but for economic reasons, is truly shocking. “1970” shows in a terrible way the arrogance, recklessness and feeling of untouchability that the communist political castes of the time had, because the police were sent to the protesters on the very first day.
There were immediately incidents and conflicts, and after the police beaters failed to do their job, the army was sent to attack the unarmed citizens. When at the end of the film we see the numbers and how many soldiers, tanks and other military machinery participated in suppressing the protests, it all seems completely unreal and unbelievable. The only thing more incredible than that is the communication between the members of the crisis team, and the cynicism, malice and determination to deal with their fellow citizens in such a drastic way is truly frightening and shocking. “1970” was shown at numerous world festivals of documentary and animated films and won many awards, and here we see in an exceptional way how the totalitarian apparatus works, ready to do anything to stay in power.