Potop (The Deluge) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Potop (The Deluge) Reviews

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Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
July 17, 2014
"With the energy of the innocent, they were gathering the tools they would need to make their journey back to nature, while the sand slipped through the opening, and their hands reached for the golden ring, with their hearts they turned to each other's heart for refuge, in the troubled years that came before the deluge." Man, that was a long reference to a Jackson Browne song no one remembers, so it would appear as though there was no way of mentioning a deluge tightly, at least in 1974. Yeah, Jackson Browne, you might need to go ahead and speak your peace, because as long as this film is, I don't think that there is going to be an "After the Deluge". I don't know if I'm more baffled by the fact that this film is about five hours long, or by the fact that this is just the second part of a trilogy, because I think that Peter Jackson could wrap this entire saga up within the time this film takes to get out one chapter. I'm just amazed that the Polish and the Soviets were able to put up with each other for five hours, much less the, I don't know, five years and fifteen days it probably took to make this film. Tensions must have been high during the making of this joint Polish-Soviet project, and I'm hoping some of it translates to this film, because I better be engrossed if we're talking about five hours of Polish. Well, sure enough, patience is paid off just fine in the end, although the film still demands plenty of it, to have dated over the years... of running (It's been 40 years, so the thing is about halfway done).

To be so dramatically and, in other ways, artistically ambitious, this film's technical value has not faired especially well against the test of time, with lukewarm filming and sound mixing which get to be either a little bland or a little cheesy, at least as a supplementation to questionable aspects of filmmaking which include cheesy spots in writing. The cheese is particularly found within Henryk Sienkiewicz's classic story itself, for although the melodramatics are handled comfortably enough to be effectively sold more often than not, they still stand as a touch disingenuous, particularly when directorial kick lapses, as it all too often does. The writing and direction carry enough resonance on the whole to keep a fair bit of liveliness throughout the course of this steadily paced epic, but when things are too somber, blandness ensues, sometimes in the form of dullness, and consistently in the form of dryness which distances an investment that this story concept demands plenty of. As sprawling as this film is, a sense of scope is a little lacking, thanks to the slow spells in directorial storytelling which stress what natural shortcomings there are in this chatty epic, and all but make palpable a thoroughly challenging runtime. Indeed, it all comes back to the length of the film, because, at about five hours, this epic's runtime is among the longer in feature drama history, and is achieved a touch roughly, because as tight as this epic narrative admittedly is in a lot of ways, things get to be mighty repetitious, if not uneven the more the film packs on the layers or draws out material, resulting in an almost ponderous pace which is made all the more difficult by aforementioned storytelling missteps. The film is plenty compelling, make no mistake, but it has the potential and, for that matter, the audacity to be a powerful drama, only to buckle short of what it could have been under the overwhelming weight of hiccups falling over an overwhelming structure. With all of that said, the fact of the matter is that the final product is five hours reasonably well-spent, for if you have patience and investment, it's easy to be immersed, with the help of solid art direction.

Whether it be because of the aforementioned technical shortcomings or simply because of the minimalist aspects of this epic, the art direction is far from spectacular, but its intimacy makes up for that by restoring 17th century Poland with enough subtlety and grace to prove rather immersive, while spectacle goes capitalized in the drama's action. If nothing else proves to be technically impressive, it is the almost surprisingly engrossing action sequences, of which there aren't many, but enough to do a solid job of reinforcing a sense of consequence to all of the talk throughout this intimate epic of limited sweep, and nonetheless considerable potential. Driven by political themes and melodramatics, Henryk Sienkiewicz's classic of an epic novel does not translate to the screen with a considerable about of genuineness or sweep, no matter how much storytelling goes bloated here, but as a dramatization of various affairs of politics and the heart, this story concept offers an almost outstanding deal of potential as a layered and grand opus with plenty of intimacy. What further endears you to the characters is, of course, their portrayals, whose across-the-board charisma and solid deal of striking dramatic highlights bond you with this sizable ensemble cast, and arguably grace the roles with more depth than Jerzy Hoffman's, Adam Kersten's and Wojciech Zukrowski's script. With that said, the performers would not be so engaging if they didn't have plenty of engaging material to work with, because as much as I criticize Hoffman's, Kersten's and Zukrowski's cheesy touches and excessive layering as screenwriters, the wit that they place into this film help sustain your investment in a sprawling structure which is surprisingly tight enough areas to make sure that there's always something going on in this plot, even if it's just the bare minimum. There's a lot of ambition in the writing, alone, and it pays off enough to give you an adequate taste of this drama's potential, betrayed by and further reflected within Hoffman's direction, which, with slicker pacing, flashier style and, of course, a greater sense of scope, could have carried the final product a long, long way, but is still pretty engrossing, with technically questionable, yet haunting visuals and plenty of meticulous scene structuring to reflect an audacity that intrigues almost as much as moments in directorial thoughtfulness which truly bite as tense, moving and all around resonant. There are some very strong touches found here and there throughout the film, and although they grow a little more recurring as the plot thickens, the final product goes on for so blasted long that, relatively speaking, the highlights are few and far between, bridged by enough inspiration to overshadow many of the shortcomings, and secure the final product as, at the very least, reasonably rewarding.

When it all comes down to the paper cup, if you will (Forget Sweden's invasion in the 17th century; what about the Aussie invasion of the '80s, Crowded House fans?), some cheesy technical shortcomings and melodramatics, in addition to more than a few directorial dry spells, defuse a sense of scope that should never abate throughout an exhausting and often repetitiously unreasonable course of about five hours, which is still far from wasted, thanks to the immersive art direction, grand action, and intriguing story concept - carried by charismatic performances, clever writing and audacious direction - which make Jerzy Hoffman's "The Deluge", or "Potop" a generally quite compelling and ultimately worthwhile challenge of a sprawling epic.

3/5 - Good
October 12, 2010
Incredible epic, I can't even begin to describe how awesome a ride this was! The characters, the stories, the battles, the costumes, the score, and the photography are all spot on inspiring and incredibly simple to both grasp and enjoy. Everything adds to the atmosphere, the wintry setting is beautiful, and every emotion is tapped. Marching armies, grand churches, deep woods, betrayal, redemption, romance, friendship, partriotism... I love this movie! P.S: Poles can eat sausage while fighting.
October 31, 2009
One of the best Polish production
July 29, 2009
evergreen. for multiple viewing.
February 3, 2009
The most amazing piece from polish cinema. Grand project made in big style with the best cast. Its a 17th century historical drama based on book from one of the greatests polish writters. Politics and love mixed together in one picture from one of the best polish directores. Absolute monument for polish people, classic which runs in tv every christmas, easter and bank holidays:))) Seriously, realy good one!
Super Reviewer
November 3, 2008
nominated for best foreign film at the oscars
November 3, 2008
I wish Hoffman was the one who made "The Teutonic knights" too. He seems to be a parfect match for Henryk Sienkiewicz's novels.
July 3, 2008
I loved the book, but the movie just drags on. I definitely noticed the communist influence, as there was no mention of the Russians, and there was minimal attention paid to the massive uprising (deluge) of people that rose against the Swedish occupiers. While the book is as much about Poland as it is about Kmicic, the protagonist, the movie is mostly about Kmicic. The acting was spot-on, though.
December 12, 2007
I have an immense affection for this movie. Rousing period drama from the second half of the 17th century. Hussars and Cossacks battle invading Swedes in Poland. Great costumes and fantastic, sweeping battles between musketeers and winged hussar lancers. The author, Sienkiewicz by the way, wrote Quo Vadis.
November 25, 2007
The best Polish movie in the history of our national cinematography - epic and brilliant.
November 11, 2007
Some episode of Polish history, this movie means a lot for polish people, generally it's about war between Poland and... Sweden. Sweden has attacked Poland but polish people kicked them asses.
July 30, 2007
very good Polish historical drama, I've seen so many times!!!
½ July 28, 2007
Excellent historical drama, which, as far as I can tell, is quite accurate. Sienkiewicz is one of my favorite authors, so I'm biased when I saw that I also think the plot is superbly constructed. On the other hand, you really have to have an intense appreciation for long historical movies in order to make it through this one, though I would hardly call it slow. Overall, I still think that the first of this series of three films, "With Fire and With Sword" is the best, though it doesn't seem like they have it on this application!
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