POLAND’S HEROIC STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE
HOW TO TELL
A HISTORICAL STORY
The Unconquered is an animated film project illustrating the long Polish fight for freedom, from 1939 until the fall of communism in 1989. The job was awarded to Juice by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN). They wanted an animated movie to commemorate events during the long years of struggle. The project was directed by Michał Misiński. He was also the one who led the creative team in developing an original visual style, with a very unique atmosphere that turned out to be just what the client wished for.
“With this film, we wish to launch an international educational campaign to present the Polish historical perspective of the years 1939-1989. I feel that with ‘The Unconquered,’ we have restored the perspective of General Anders’ soldiers of II Corps, i.e., the relentless struggle for Poland’s freedom,” says Adam Hlebowicz, Deputy Director of the Institute of National Remembrance.
A VISUAL STYLE
The client knew what they wanted but could not express it as well as a creative team. Their brief required a reinvention. Without a clear direction, client expectations could have become unrealistic.
The film took a year to produce, during which the IPN governmental unit was redeployed, and the project was close to being stopped entirely. This gave the Juice team more time to work on even more clarity in their screen style.
Such projects require intensive research, meticulous attention, and an understanding of visual aesthetics to fit high standards. Having a creative team where everyone adds ideas gave the broadest perspective to the story. This provided many exciting options and new ways we could go ahead with the project as possible. Combining different visions and fresh perspectives. Apart from constructing the narration, an intensive search for visual aesthetics was conducted.
Using the monochromatic style, which is Misiński’s trademark look, super-talented CG artist brothers Selim and Andrzej Sykut brought the concept to the next level, with gradients and separate colors to represent the two major foes. There is geometry in the characters, their faces, clothes. It’s all very stylized. There is one character who migrates from one scene to the next. So, there is continuity and a sense of a journey as if we were looking at a video game character going through different levels of the story. Each sequence has three shots, one of them is even designed as a postcard.
There is also stylized animation. Jumpy and blocky, giving a sense of fast-paced action and uncertainty to each scenario. A rich editorial finish to each scene, together with dramatic narration, leads the viewer in and holds them spellbound.
“In the 20th century, it took Poland 50 years to regain freedom. We tried to illustrate that struggle in our new, 4 minutes long animation. We were looking for an original artistic style for the film,” says Michał Misiński. “On the one hand, it was meant to carry powerful emotions, and on the other give space to construct a non-literal message and a poetic mood. The artistic convention allowed us to construct poignant symbols such as that from the first scene when the hero is being crushed by two walls or the scene of Karski’s conversation with Roosevelt.”
The reaction to the finished production has been immensely positive. The concise telling of critical national Polish history has been brought into sharp focus with this visually suggestive manner. The lessons and historical messages are brought home clearly by Juice adopting these storytelling techniques.
The film is thus meant to show historical truth in a modern and, at the same time, a symbolic manner. Its premiere took place before the 78th anniversary of the Soviet invasion and shows the key moments of Poles’ fifty-year-long fight for freedom.
“Often the decisions made in conjunction between the CG artist and production specialist, benefit client, and agency, while still delivering on the very tight deadline. And as we all know in today’s film and commercial world, times are not extending but constantly shrinking. Whatever solutions we might have to accommodate that – especially if they are in sync with cost-saving, we believe them to be the future of approach to the motion picture.”Adam Tunikowski, the CEO and co-Founder of Juice.