From the directors of Loving Vincent, The Peasants is a cinematic pageant about a 19th-century Polish village where a beautiful maiden marries a widowed landowner while nursing a burning love for his son.
DK Welchman, Hugh Welchman
Yearning for a world beyond the fertile yet arduous one known to her, a maiden resides with her mother in the picturesque Polish countryside of the 19th century, where the homespun traditions of peasantry date back to antiquity. Full of ornamental song and rapturous dance, and meticulously painted frame after frame, The Peasants, from DK and Hugh Welchman, is a comic, tragic, and reflective tableau resembling an ancient epic.
Told through seasons that honour the cyclical rituals of ploughing, plantation, and harvest, this adaptation of Władysław Reymont’s Nobel Prize–winning novel of the same title (written in four volumes between 1904 and 1909 and translated into 27 languages) recounts the tale of a charming and voluptuous woman named Jagna (Kamila Urzedowska) hungering for love and lacking in cunning. Her home of Lipce, a God-fearing village, is full of characters, including a lecherous mayor, a snooty church organist, and a razor-tongued gossip, and hundreds of storks that, according to lore, foretell the arrival of new life. Here, Jagna creates havoc by marrying a wealthy widower named Boryna (Mirosław Baka), whose children and their families — including the apple of her eye, his brawny son, Antek (Robert Gulaczyk) — work the land and expect inheritance. Jagna’s fate is all but sealed when she breaks one of the few societal taboos. Naturalistic in the best of times and brutal in the worst, The Peasants is a love song to the memories of our ancestors and to timeless matters of the heart.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: nudity; sexual violence