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Film / Siege

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Warsaw burning

Siege is a 1940 documentary short film (10 minutes) directed and photographed by Julien Bryan.

It is a visual record of the siege of Warsaw, at the beginning of World War II. Bryan arrived in Warsaw on September 7, after the Polish government and all the rest of the foreign press had evacuated. He was the last journalist from a neutral country in the city. For two weeks Bryan, accompanied only by his interpreter, filmed the death and devastation being wreaked on Warsaw as the Germans approached. He eventually made it out of Warsaw along with other residents of neutral nations, concealing his film in a gas mask container.

No relation to the comic book, the 1998 film The Siege, or the 1983 Canadian film Self Defense (also known as Siege).



  • Abandoned Hospital: One segment has Bryan visiting a hospital that was hurriedly evacuated when German bombs started falling. Rubble, shattered windows, and abandoned medical equipment is everywhere. He eventually finds the women from the maternity ward still cowering in the cellar along with their infants.
  • Documentary: A particularly horrifying one, although Bryan pulled some of his punches, omitting some of the more ghastly violence his cameras captured.
  • Narrator: The film opens with Bryan at a desk talking about his experience; he then narrates the rest of his film.
  • Scenery Gorn: The massive destruction wrought by the Luftwaffe (the German Air Force) on Warsaw. Fires, giant bomb craters, empty shells of buildings. (Bryan also took even more disturbing still photographs of bodies littering the streets, material that was left out of the newsreel.)
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  • The Siege: A harrowing real one, as Warsaw is surrounded and mercilessly bombed by the Luftwaffe.
  • War Is Hell: Yes, yes it is.