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Film / The Maids of Wilko

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The Maids of Wilko (Panny z Wilka) is a 1979 film from Poland directed by Andrzej Wajda.

The time frame is a little vague but appears to be late 1920s (definitely later than 1923). Wiktor is an unmarried 40-year-old man who manages a factory in Warsaw. The sudden death of his friend Jurek from pneumonia throws Wiktor into a tailspin. In need of some rest and relaxation, he takes a break from work and goes to the country. In fact, he to his family's farm, a place that Wiktor hasn't visited in fifteen years, now owned by his uncle.

However Wiktor winds up spending the bulk of his time at the neighboring farm, Wilko. When he was a young man, Wiktor worked as a tutor for the six, count 'em, six daughters of the Wilko family. All six had crushes on him back in the day. The oldest, Fela, has since died, but five daughters are still on the Wilko farm. Eldest daughter Julia is married; her husband now runs the farm and seems to dislike his sisters-in-law. Second daughter Jola is unhappily married. Kazia, a divorcee, is looked down on by the others and seems to be a quasi-servant. Zosia is the most cynical about Wiktor's presence in the household. Tunia, the youngest and most innocent of the Wilko girls, immediately falls in love with handsome Wiktor.

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  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: It isn't about domestic servants. The Polish word Panny translates into "maid" in the older sense of maidens, young women, virgin girls. The film is sometimes also referred to in English as The Young Girls of Wilko or The Girls of Wilko.
  • Dead Guy Junior: One of Julia's daughters is named Fela after Julia's deceased older sister.
  • Driven to Suicide: Implied but not definitively stated with Fela. The others seem to be reluctant to talk about how she died. She is buried in a side corner of the cemetery, not the Wilko family crypt, and her grave is untended and overgrown with weeds.
  • Hollywood Midlife Crisis: Wiktor is adrift at the age of 40 and shaken after his friend's death. He describes his own life as "stupid and meaningless" and regrets his "aimless wandering."
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  • Identical Grandfather: In the one brief moment where Fela is seen in flashback, she's played by the same actress who plays her younger sister, Tunia.
  • Ma'am Shock: Wiktor is startled when Tunia calls him "sir" and insists she address him by his first name.
  • No Name Given: Wiktor's aunt and uncle are never named.
  • Secretly Dying: Towards the end of the film Wiktor's uncle sways and nearly faints in the stable. He then admits to Wiktor that he's dying. He hasn't told anybody, as even his wife doesn't know what he's talking about when he bids Wiktor goodbye with a comment about how they'll probably never meet again.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Kasia has short, mannish hair, wears glasses, and dresses rather frumpily—she might be a coded lesbian if it weren't for the obvious unrequited love she shows for Wiktor. Everyone is surprised the night of the party, when Kasia comes out all dolled up, with the glasses gone, in one of her sister's old dresses.
    Wiktor: You look fabulous!
  • Sibling Triangle: More like a Sibling Dodecahedron. Tunia asks Wiktor to marry her, he flirts with both Julia and Jola, and Kasia is still in love with him even though she pretends as if her feelings were in the past.
    Zosia: Which of us are you visiting today?
  • Shipper on Deck: Wiktor's aunt tells him directly that he should marry pretty young Tunia, who is besotted with him.
  • Speech-Centric Work: A lot of people hanging out in a grand old farmhouse, talking about their feelings and the past.
  • Title Drop: Wiktor's aunt, who is trying to get him married off, says "The young ladies of Wilko will regret they didn't wait for her."
  • The X of Y: The Maids of Wilko
  • You Can't Go Home Again: A theme. Wiktor seems to feel as if he no longer belongs at the farm house. He expresses feelings at one time or another for most of the Wilko sisters, but can't seem to bring any of them happiness, not even Tunia, the one who would happily have left with him if he'd asked.
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