Land of Promise (1975): Oscar Nominee from Wajda

Written and directed by Andrzei Wada, the Oscar-nominated Land of Promised is based on the book by the 1924 Nobel Prize winner Wladyslaw S. Reymont.

It tells the story of industrialists at the turn of the century, centering on three men, Polish, German, and Jewish.

Wajda presents shocking images of the city, with its dirty and dangerous factories as well as its opulent residences devoid of culture.

The film follows Charles Dickens, Émile Zola and Maxim Gorky, as well as German expressionists such as Knopf, Meidner and Grosz, who gave testimony of social protest.

Karol Borowiecki (Daniel Olbrychski), a young Polish nobleman, the managing engineer at the Bucholz textile factory, is ruthless in his career pursuits, and unconcerned with the long tradition of his financially declined family.

He plans to set up his own factory with help of his friends Max Baum (Andrzej Seweryn), a German and heir to an old factory, and Moritz Welt (Wojciech Pszoniak), an independent Jewish businessman.

Borowiecki’s affair with Lucy Zucker (Kalina Jędrusik), the wife of another textile magnate, gives him notice of changes in cotton tariffs and helps Welt to make a killing on the Hamburg futures market. However, since more money must be found, all three  cast aside their pride to raise the necessary capital.

On the factory opening day, Borowiecki denies his affair with Zucker’s wife to a jealous husband who, himself a Jew, makes him swear on sacred Catholic object.

Borowiecki then accompanies Lucy on her exile to Berlin. However, Zucker sends an associate to spy on his wife. He confirms the affair and informs Zucker, who takes his revenge on Borowiecki by burning down his new uninsured factory. Borowiecki and his friends lose all they had worked for.

Shifting forwards a few years, Borowiecki recovers financially by marrying Mada Müller, a rich heiress, and owns his own factory. When his factory is threatened by a workers’ strike, Borowiecki must decide whether or not to open fire on the demonstrators.

He is reminded by associate that it is never too late to change his ways, but Borowiecki, who has never shown compassion for his subordinates, authorizes the police to open fire.

Daniel Olbrychski as Karol Borowiecki
Wojciech Pszoniak as Moritz Welt
Andrzej Seweryn as Maks Baum
Kalina Jędrusik as Lucy Zucker
Anna Nehrebecka as Anka
Bożena Dykiel as Mada Müller
Andrzej Szalawski as Herman Bucholz
Stanisław Igar as Grünspan

At the 9th Moscow Film Fest in 1975, the film won the Golden Prize.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Best Foreign Language Film

Oscar Awards: None

The winner of the Best Foreign Language Oscar was Dersu Uzala by Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, which was submitted as a Russian entry.