Policeman as a hero?

August 11, 6 p.m.
Detectives in service of ideology: an officer of Citizen’s Militia as a hero in Pop Culture of the Polish People’s Republic
Lecture by Katarzyna Wajda

A lecture will take interest in a figure of an officer of Citizen’s Militia – perceived as a hero of popular culture and, to use the term introduced by Krzysztof Teodor Toeplitz, an inhabitant of a mass imagination whom he never turned out to be, at least in a positive sense.

Selected cinematic representations of the officers of Citizen’s Militia will illustrate an evolution of a character of the guardian of public order in the times of the Polish People’s Republic – from an officer of Polish Secret Police “UB” in the socialist realist Niedaleko Warszawy [Not far from Warsaw] of 1954 to Captain Porczyk in Zabij mnie, glino [Kill me, a cop!] of 1988 which already anticipated a new gangster trend in the Polish cinema of the 1990s. The lecture will also familiarise the audience with persuasive methods and strategies by means of which film-makers attempted to portray an officer of Citizen’s Militia – one of the most unpopular figures of the Polish People’s Republic – as a positive character and, hence, win the people over. In this context, Polish detective TV series remain of special interest – Kapitan Sowa na tropie [Captain Sowa on the track] and 07 zgłoś się [07, over to you!] – as does a question why Lieutenant Borewicz became an icon of popular culture in the times of the Polish People’s Republic. Another question, namely why Captain Szczęsny, a character from the books of Anna Kłodzińska, failed to achieve a similar status will also be posed and, consequently, serve as a starting point for an inquiry into a citizen’s militia novel. Is it true that, as Stanisław Barańczak claims in his study entitled Książki najgorsze [The worst books], this Polish take on the genre of crime novel “rarely hopes to be something more than just an advertisement of Citizen’s Militia”? And was it an effective advertising strategy?
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