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Film / Colonel Kwiatkowski

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Pułkownik Kwiatkowski is a Polish historical comedy directed by Kazimierz Kutz.

It is 1945 and the Soviet occupation of Poland has been complete for some time. Captain Andrzej Kwiatowski, a gynecologist-turned-surgeon, has been given a vacation with a help of one of his grateful patients, a colonel in the UB - State Sec for the forming PRL. While on leave, he takes a Girl Next Door to a date at a fancy hotel. Ending up punching a drunk Soviet colonel, to save his skin he demands an instant call to the Minister of Security, pretending to be a high-ranking security officer himself. This audacious act proves spectacularly successful. Hilarity Ensues as Kwiatkowski continues to use his sharp wit and the Communist Newspeak to skillfully turn its intended meanings inside out and manipulate the unwitting Party faithful to do his bidding, while helping out all sorts of people who have run into difficulty with the new regime.


Pułkownik Kwiatkowski provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: During Dudek's medical exam to see if he is fit to be a soldier, he has a very hard time not to crack up, fully aware that all three doctors are doing their best to get him out of military and toying with the political officer present. The moment castration is mentioned, he almost chokes.
  • Affably Evil: Colonek Kizior is one of two competent UB officials (the other being Moczar) and he is somewhat lenient toward Kwiatkowski after his capture, or at least pretends to be.
    They've could send some hot-head that would shoot you on sight.
  • Based on a True Story: The film ends with such a disclaimer, but Kutz never openly said whose story he meant. There were a few people similar to Kwiatkowski in Poland and other details match non-Polish examples of Impersonating an Officer scams and pranks.
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  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The entire plot runs on it, with Kwiatkowski pretending to be a colonel and a vice-minister of security. Nobody expects this level of audacity, while Kwiatkowski acts in such nonchalant way it fools everyone, including a real vice-minister.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Strongly implied with Colonel Kizior. He - supposedly - leaves Krysia alone just because Kwiatkowksi could have fucked up his face, but didn't. The true irony of this kicks in when you recall Kwiatkowski openly declaring, right after the surgery, that he would have stitched Kizior's nose to his forehead if he only knew he was operating on an UB Colonel.
  • The Bet: Krysia goads Kwiatkowski into rescuing a boy from prison using a bet. If he manages to do that, she will fall in love with him.
    Krysia: (much later, when the bet gets invoked): I'll never bet with you again.
  • Black Comedy: While the subject of the movie is dead-serious, the way how the story is told tries to cast at least some light into the grim-darkness of Stalinist Poland and the brutality of UB.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The UB officer from the opening, colonel Kizior. The movie wisely downplays his importance by having an All-Star Cast, so Adam Ferency doesn't stand out at all in what appears to be a minor role.
    • The lowly sergeant who lends Kwiatkowski the jeep. He's the one to bust the whole charade, trying to trace the colonel who took the car.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As a coping measure for the reality she lives in, Krysia developed this attitude somewhen during the war. Kwiatkowski himself is a Stepford Snarker, his true emotions always hidden under the cool, cheerful facade. Which he keeps up while captured by UB.
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: Subverted, as Kwiatkowski signed all the forms and legally took a Willis jeep from a military unit. It's the only time when he actually signs anything. It eventually leads to his undoing, as the sergeant who leased the vehicle started to snoop around where the hell is the colonel and the car.
  • Go Through Me: When Wacek and his band show up at the wedding reception, Krysia instantly covers Andrzej, but he quickly grabs her and instead covers her.
  • Handsome Lech: After all, the plot only starts because Kwiatkowski wants to have sex with Krysia. She even points out there is something of a cheap lady-chaser in him.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Kwiatkowski is but a captain. But it's not his impersonation of a colonel, but of a fictional vice-minister that he gets in trouble for.
  • Ironic Name: Niewzorow, the Russian aide for Moczar. Directly translated into Polish it means "someone to not take an example from" or at least "not an exemplary".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall
    Colonel Kizior: I'm just reading your diary. Excellent, fascinating read, begging to be made into an action movie (...) You should be an actor.
  • May–December Romance: Before the war Krysia was a very young teen, while Kwiatkowski already had a well-established practice as a doctor. There is at least 15 years of difference between them, possibly more. Kondrat was 46 and Dancewicz 27 when playing their respective roles.
  • Mr. Smith: Invoked, discussed and exploited. Kwiatkowski is one of the most common Polish surnames, so barely anyone pays attention to yet another colonel.
  • Noodle Incident: Almost all of the characters lived through some truly gruesome events during the war that are only barely mentioned without further details, like Krysia being in a forced labour camp and losing her parents there or the officer from Lida surviving in Kazachstan by eating manure and apparently both Kwiatkowski and Dudek were in the AK. Even the boy who Kwiatkowski saves from the UB prison was taking part in one of the boodiest skirmishes of the Warsaw Uprising and miraculously survived that.
  • Only One Name: Kwiatkowski is Andrzej, Dudek is Mandfred and the UB officer surname is Kizior. Good luck remembering those on first watch, as each of them is named only once, going by their surnames or ranks for the rest of the movie.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: Downplayed, Kwiatkowski is a trained doctor with military surgeon experience, but his specialisation is still in gynecology.
  • Precision F-Strike: After realising there is nobody there but him to do the surgery, Kwiatkowski has a truly epic outburst, the only time when he lose his cool during the entire film.
  • Properly Paranoid: Colonel Kizior doesn't even swallow his meds without checking first, fully knowing everyone hates UB and plenty of people would gladly kill him any given chance.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: When Kwiatkowski chews out the Russian soldiers for looting furniture from presidental villa, no subtitles or other translation is provided. The dialogue is still understandable in Polish, though.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Kwiatkowski, when impersonating the vice-minister is this for the highly incompetent, corrupt and brutal UB. His instructions for local bureaus are a swift balance betwen being more humane and in the same time still effective as State Sec.
    • The priest. After Kwiatkowski proves he's not mocking anyone with his desire to marry Krysia in a church and saves the organist from prison, the priest stands on Andrzej's side when the partisants suddenly show up and talks some sense into them, using nothing but his authority of a priest against a band of armed soldiers.
    Priest: You are pointing a gun at me, sonny...
  • Refuge in Audacity: The modus operandi of Kwiatkowski. While Dudek was originally going for false papers and full documentation, Andrzej mentions that nobody would even dare to ask for anything from a vice-minister of security, as long as they will act the part.
  • Restricted Rescue Operation: The very first action by Kwiatkowski involves taking out just two men out of the slammer - and each cell he "visitates" contains fifty people tightly crammed inside. After the action, he instantly points out to his underlings the difference of arranging for just two men versus an entire prison, when all you've got is some serious nerve and an uniform.
  • The Scrounger: Dudek, who is also a small time crook and a con-man.
  • Snowball Lie: What started as an improvised way of saving own skin after punching drunk Russian officer changes into country-wide journey and pushing it further and further with the "authority" of a vice-minister of security.
  • Spanner in the Works/For Want of a Nail
    • All the explits would run smoothly and with no problems, including fooling a real vice-minister... but Kwiatkowski is found out because he didn't return the Willis jeep he borrowed early on, causing a sergant quartermaster to start searching for him.
    • Rather than taking the last, sentimental night in the country, the entire group could just get to the border and thus avoid capture.
  • Spit Take: Dudek, when he hears Krysia's "confidential" phone call to local UB office, anouncing Kwiatkowski's surprise visit there as a vice-minister.
  • State Sec: Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (Bureau of Security), the Polish version of Stalinist Secret Police. It had its own ministry and what could qualify as separate military branch, the Korpus Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego (Internal Security Corps).
  • Survivor Guilt: Krysia shows a bit of it early on, having lost her parents during the war.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Kwiatkowski is trying to get out of the military, he plays it around the fact he's a gynecologist and thus wasted as a military surgeon, when there are countless rape victims who need professional help now that the war's over. Cue his commanding officer turning beetroot-red and Suddenly SHOUTING! "Red Army doesn't rape!". Thing is - Kwiatkowski never said anything about who did the all the raping.
  • Techno Babble: The three doctors pretending Dudek has some sort of STD that makes him unfit for military service. Since the political officer is the only non-medic present, he gets easily fooled by their autority.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Invoked few times by various charactes about Kwiatkowski's actions. Everything he achieves - all the good deeds - in the end goes on the UB account.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Wacek and his band of partisants. Last time we saw them, they've "visited" the newly-wed, the priest talked some sense into Wacek and... it remains unknown if Kwiatkowski warned them about the incoming ambush with two batallions of regular army send after the small band.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: Kwiatkowski's handgun is unloaded. So are the machine pistols of his "guards".
    Kwiatkowski: (points his gun at a non-cooperative doctor) This is my medical diploma! If you are going to oppose me any more, I'm going to first shoot your left ear and then the right one. I love precission shooting! Now move it!
  • Young Future Famous People: Mieczysław Moczar was a quickly rising high-ranking member of the Polish Communist Party, but back in 1945 he was still relatively powerless regional official.

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