Fine Art Meets Film in ‘The Peasants’  

‘The Peasants’, Poland’s official selection for Best International Feature at the 2024 Academy Awards, is an exquisitely animated Sony Pictures Classics feature length film adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning writer Władysław Reymont’s classic turn-of-the-century novel of the same name. The epic story is required reading for all high school students in Poland. 

THE PEASANTS. Photo credit: Vladimir Vinkic Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Directed and adapted for the screen by DK Welchmanand and Hugh Welchman, the creative team behind the ground-breaking, Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA-nominated biopic ‘Loving Vincent’, and produced by Sean Bobbitt & Hugh Welchman, ‘The Peasants’ tells the heart-breaking story of Jagna, a beautiful yet tormented young woman trying to fight for her rights within the prejudiced and often misogynist confines of a 19th century village in rural Poland. 

The production of ‘The Peasants’ uses the same hand-painted technique as its predecessor ‘Loving Vincent’, but on an even grander scale. The result is a bolder and more expressive living painting, which creates an immersive effect that draws the viewer into Jagna’s world. The captivating film was shot in live-action before being transformed into painted animation. It was completed during a two-year period using 42,000 oil paintings by a group of more than 100 painters from four different countries (Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, and Lithuania), and had to be shut down for a year as a result of the Russian invasion).

Jagna inhabits a world full of gossip and feuds between the richer and poorer members of the rural farming community, rooted in pride in their land and a blinkered adherence to traditions and deep-rooted patriarchy. The central character Jagna finds that her enigmatic beauty leads to unwanted attention from the richest farmer in the village, and a battle for her attention from the farmer’s eldest son and other men in the community results in a doomed love affair for Jagna. She finds herself unwillingly at the centre of a heartless Witch hunt, and the film serves as a warning against misogyny and patriarchy, with a gut-wrenching finale that shows Jagna’s inner defiance will enable her to rise above everything. 

Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in theatres beginning 26th January, 2024.

Check out the trailer here: 

THE PEASANTS. Photo credit: Malgorzata Kuznik. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

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