Blog Article / 18 February 2021
7 films shot in Poland that you need to watch
Have you ever wondered whether Schindler's List was shot in the original enamelware factory at Lipowa 4? Learn surprising facts about classic movies that were filmed in Poland. Most of them were Oscar winners or nominees!
Schindler's List (1993)
Steven Spielberg decided to shoot most of the scenes in Krakow. The majority of movie locations were set up within the Kazimierz district - a historical Jewish Quarter. For example, Szeroka Street, which was one of the film's main locations, "played" Plac Zgody - the main square of the Krakow ghetto (now Plac Bohaterów Getta). This is where many scenes were shot, for example, the one with Jews signing up for forced labor and the famous scene with a girl in a red coat on the night of the ghetto liquidation massacre. The location was not a square, but just a wide street. The Old Synagogue at 24 Szeroka street can be seen in the background in several scenes. The seat of the Jewish Religious Community at 2 Skawinska street appeared in the film as the seat of the Judenrat. Other movie locations in the Kazimierz district include the building at 12 Jozefa street and the intersection of Jakuba and Ciemna streets. Pilsudski bridge on the Vistula river connecting Kazimierz and Podgorze districts were used to recreate the scenes of the mass exodus of the Jews of Krakow.
Krakow Main Station (Krakow Głowny) was shown at the beginning of the film and in the scene of Oskar Schindler's farewell to his wife Emilia. Some scenes were even shot inside the famous St Mary’s Basilica in the Main Market Square. The tenement house at 7 Straszewskiego Street was used as the exterior for Schindler's apartment. This is actually the very building in which he lived during the war. In one scene, when Schindler leaves the building, you can see the Wawel Castle in the background, a place where the governor-general Hans Frank arranged his office during Krakow's occupation.
The location for the extermination camp in Plaszow was built at the foot of the Krakus Mound, on the site of the former "Liban" quarry. It is located a few hundred meters away from where the original Plaszow camp once stood. In 1993, 34 barracks and 11 watchtowers were built there for the film. They are still standing there to this day.
Was the original building of Schindler's Factory really used in the movie?
Interior shots of Schindler’s enamelware factory were filmed at a similar facility in Olkusz - a city 40 kilometers away from Krakow. This included workshops themselves, as well as the Schindler’s office with a panoramic window for production. Exterior shots and the scenes on the factory stairs were filmed at the actual factory at Lipowa 4 in Krakow. In 2005, the buildings of the factory became the property of the Krakow city and today they house the Historical Museum of Krakow. However, back in 1993 many of the premises of the former factory were abandoned. Cinematographers made use of the building facade, a courtyard, and one staircase.
Perhaps many people ask themselves whether Auschwitz scenes were really shot at the premises of Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The answer is yes and no. To avoid filming inside the actual death camp, the film crew constructed a replica of a portion of the camp just outside the entrance of Birkenau.
Our guides will be happy to show you all the above mentionned movie locations during our Krakow tours.
The Pianist (2002)
Most of the scenes were shot in Warsaw, where the action of the movie took place. Some scenes were also shot in Potsdam and Berlin.
One of the first scenes - the entry of German troops into the city, was shot in Krakowskie Przedmiescie street. The damages from bombing visible in the buildings were created later using computer technology. The next shot was taken from the perspective of the entrance to The Holy Cross Church and its characteristic statue of Christ. The Copernicus Monument is visible in the background.
The district of Praga was selected for most of the open-air scenes. As only 25 percent of Praga’s architecture was destroyed during World War 2, it had many well-preserved buildings from pre-war times, which created a perfect setting to imitate Warsaw during the occupation. Most scenes were shot in Mala and Stalowa streets. The ghetto wall was built along the streets, and a wooden footbridge was set up over Stalowa street. In the scene where the Warsaw ghetto was moved in the fall of 1941, crowds of Jews including Władysław Szpilman and his brother Henryk passed this footbridge. On the adjacent Zaokopowa street, an old ruined building served as a construction site on the Aryan side of the ghetto, which Szpilman ended up after saving himself from deportation to Treblinka death camp. Several scenes were also shot in Wola and Srodmiescie districts, as well as in the suburbs of Warsaw. The scene at the Umschlagplatz, where Szpilman, his family, and hundreds of other Jews are waiting to be transported to extermination camps, was shot at the National Defense University in Rembertow.
In the first scenes of the movie, we see a railway bridge that was shot in Wyszkow, 60 kilometers north-east of Warsaw. The next scene in which the main character Anna goes to the field hospital to search for her husband is located on the premises of the church of St. Joseph in Poswietne - a small village in the Masovia. The morgue next to the church was also used in the film. Another church that was used as a location in the movie was the historic Orthodox Church in Stary Dzikow in the Subcarpathia. This brick building served as a prisoner-of-war camp in Kozielsk, USSR. Polish officers who were later murdered by the Soviets were imprisoned here. Inside the church, multi-level wooden bunks were installed, on which Polish prisoners slept. The filmmakers agreed that the scenery would remain inside the church after the film shooting. Several street scenes were filmed in the old town of a nearby city Jaroslaw. Other scenes were also shot in Poland's two major cities - Warsaw and Krakow. Military Training Ground in Wesola (suburban district of Warsaw) was a location for the Katyn forest.
The film was shot entirely in Poland. One of the most characteristic movie settings was set up in Klemensow - a former village, today incorporated into the city Szczebrzeszyn near Zamosc. The pre-war Klemensow residence of the Zamoyski family was chosen to "play" a monastery where the title character Ida was brought up. Many scenes were shot in the city of Lodz (Legionow, Rzgowska, and Dowborczyki streets) and on the cemeteries (Jewish cemetery and Doly cemetery). Other scenes were shot in Plish cities Zgierz, Pabianice, and Mianów.
The Witcher (2019)
Netflix’s The Witcher was filmed in multiple locations around the globe, including the Canary Islands, Hungary, and Poland. Filming part of the scenes in Poland was a tribute to the author of the books - Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, on which the series was based. One of the most characteristic locations is Ogrodzieniec Castle near Krakow. It is used at the Battle of Sodden in the final episode. Ogrodzieniec Castle is part of a popular tourist route including several medieval castles between Krakow and Czestochowa, known as the Trail of the Eagles' Nests. To get the full The Witcher experience while in Poland, the Polish Tourist Organization also recommends visiting the Crane in Gdansk, a painted village in Zalipie, and the windmills in the Wielkopolska Ethnographic Park in Dziekanowice, which were the inspiration for the show and design references for the video game.
The Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film was shot on three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. In Uzbekistan, where most desert scenes were shot, soldiers of the Soviet Army appeared as extras. The film was also shot in Egypt (Luxor, Cairo, and Giza). In Poland, scenes were shot in the Bledowska Desert - the only natural desert in Europe and Lake Kirsajty in the Masuria Lake District, where the scenes on the Nile with Ramses and Sara were shot. Most of the palace, temple, and labyrinth scenes were created in the film studio of the Lodz.
The Bridge of Spies (2015)
The film with Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg was shot mainly in New York and Berlin. However, two film locations were arranged in Wroclaw. The city "played" the center of Berlin during the Cold War of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Outdoor shots were filmed here, including spectacular group scenes. The shots were taken in the area of Ptasia, Kurkowa and Miernicza streets. The film crew added the front of the building in a place of the demolished building next to the tenement house at Kurkowa 36. A new mural appeared on one of the walls of the building - the symbol of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands - the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, which ruled in the former GDR. The mural was painted over after the shooting was completed. On Ptasia street, the Berlin Wall with barbed wire and a border barrier was built.
Our guide will show you the movie locations during our Wroclaw city tour.
Author: Monika AB Poland Travel
Posted on: 18th February 2021
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