On a tempestuous night a coach battles through the dark forests of 19th-century Poland. The galloping horses start at something in the darkness, the coach loses control and after a wild ride, it smashes somewhere deep in the woods. A young traveler emerges from the wreckage, the coachman and the horses having fallen into a deep sleep. Dazed, he staggers further into the woods. From out of the darkness ominous shadows emerge at speed: all around him are warriors on dark steeds. They release a barrage of fiery arrows over his head. He runs for his very life to the edge of a lake, where suddenly all is stillness. He topples into the lake. The traveler is transported to a medieval world, where he witnesses the last days of the town of Świteź which lies at the bottom of the lake after being plundered by the ghostly warriors that the traveler saw in the forest. As the town is set on fire, the townspeople flee into their church, and pray for salvation. Their prayers are answered by a deluge, which engulfs marauders and innocents alike. But the innocents are transformed into lilies, which to this day cover the entire surface of the lake. The next day our young traveler, stunned but alive, is pulled out of the lake from amongst the lilies.
The animated film 'The Lost Town of Świteź' is based on the 19th-century epic poem by Poland's greatest writer, Adam Mickiewicz, about a ghostly town deluged after a bloody massacre in medieval times, which now lies at the bottom of a remote lake. It is an apocalyptic tale of destruction, religious miracles and spectral visitations.
The film imports oil paintings into digital 3D combined with both CG animation and visual special effects to create a mesmerizing aesthetic experience, set to a specially-commissioned full choral and orchestral score. It dramatically merges literature, painting, music and animation.
When I accidentally read the ballad „Switez” by Adam Mickiewicz, describing the last day of existence of a medieval town, where the mysterious lake Switez lies these days, many different emotions ran through me. Surprisingly, a romantic text, written almost 200 years ago, became the main inspiration to make the animated film The Lost Town of Świteź.
Together with my team, I started to create this non-existent world. We built landscapes, a wooden town with a brick church inside it. We animated a XIX century hero, who would experience the most incredible night in his life. We created a choreography for thousands of extras. We controlled the elements of fire and water so that they would face each other in a battle for human life. Good against evil. Life against death. The struggle of faith for the purest happiness and inner peace.
In the visual sphere, I looked up to great painters (Rublow, Gierymski, Szyszkin, Uccello), filmmakers (Griffith, Eisenstein) and creators of amazing ballet spectacles (Tchaykovsky, Prokofiev) – that’s why everything in this film lives with music. And although the whole visual world is borrowed, put together from images seen in museums and present in different cultures, still there is blood flowing through the film – it’s the blood of my emotions and how I experience the world.