Quo Vadis, 2001

The only Polish screen adaptation of Sienkiewicz’s novel so far was produced in 2001, but its director had come up with the idea of filming the book thirty years earlier, encouraged by an Academy Award-nomination for his Pharaoh (1965). Under the People’s Republic of Poland, the religious theme (and resonance) of Sienkiewicz’s novel severely impaired its chances for filming. New prospects seemed to dawn for the project in the 1980’s, when American film-making company Metro Goldwyn Meyer reportedly took interest in producing the film (withdrawing, however, when martial law was proclaimed in Poland). The screenplay was re-written a few times in the later 1990’s, but the Zespół Filmowy Kadr [Kadr Film Studio], Poland’s major film production and distribution company, did not have a sufficient funding pool for the film. The necessary budget was finally raised by a newly founded film producer, Chronos Film, with Kadr involved as one of the film’s co-producers. Even though Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s Quo Vadis is the most expensive film produced in Poland to date (with a budget of $18 million), it hardly equals the sumptuous display and spectacular appeal of Hollywood productions. Seen by an audience of over 4.5 million Polish film-goers, Quo vadis has invited mostly scathing critical reviews in Poland. The world premiere of the Polish adaptation took place in Vatican with Pope John Paul II in attendance. The film served as a basis for a six-episode TV series (2002).