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Henryk Wars songster of Warsaw

Z dnia: 2007-09-30

In 1902 to a family of assimilated Polish Jews, Israel and Sarah Warszawski, was born Henryk Wars, an outstanding film music composer.

The history of Jewish population in Poland reaches back to over 1,000 year ago. For many centuries the Jews enjoyed religious liberty and prosperity, but under WWII German occupation they suffered horrendous extermination at Nazi death camps. Prior to WWII the population of Jewish origin in Poland amounted to over 3 million. Out of these 350,000 lived in Warsaw.

Henryk Wars (Warszawski), 1902-1977, world-wide famous composer of music for over 50 films in Poland before WWII and for over 60 films abroad thereafter, mainly produced in Hollywood film studios. He has also written numerous popular hit songs, for which he has been nicknamed “A Songster of Warsaw”. When on the post-WWII exile, he provided songs for Brenda Lee, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, and Margaret Whiting. The songs he wrote in Warsaw before WWII have survived until now and are still performed by contemporary pop stars.

This film tells the story of this extraordinary artist and Polish patriot.

It was produced nearly 30 years after the composer's death and is based on memories contributed by his family, friends, and associates interviewed on three continents: North America, in Hollywood, where Mr. Wars worked and lived and where still live his widow Elżbieta Vars and son Robert Vars; in Europe, in London, where lives Hanryk Wars Orchestra’s principal soloist and General Anders’ widow Mrs. Renata Bogdańska; and in Australia, where lives the orchestra’s another principal soloist, Mr. Gwidon Borucki. The film also showcases some archive material, including the Polish Newsreel footage from 1936 and 1967; fragments of documentary film account of the battle trail of General Anders’ Army The Great Road, produced in Italy, directed by Michal Waszynski, starring Renata Bogdańska, and provided with soundtrack music by Henryk Wars; as well as film and TV renderings of his greatest hits by old and contemporary singers.

Mr. Wars’ and his body’s of work evergreen relevance has been evidenced many decades after his death by two great filmmakers: Steven Spielberg in The Schindler List and Roman Polanski in The Pianist.

In 2009 film Henryk Wars, A Songster of Warsaw was extended and modified. Additional sequences have been added to illustrate complicated and tragic fates of Polish Jews exterminated in the time of WWII by Nazi occupants, as well as an introduction and supplements.

The film was many times aired on various Polish (Public) Television channels: TVP Polonia, TVP Kultura, TVP 2, and TVP, and was presented on festivals in Warsaw, Prague, Chicago, Seattle, Stanford, Princeton, Hollywood, and Orange County. By recollection of Henryk Wars’ life and work the film inspired President of Poland to post-mortem honour the composer with the Knight's Cross of Polonia Restituta Order, which was received by Henryk Wars' grandson, Mr. Dennis Mitchell, at a solemn concert, and coverage of the ceremony provided the film with its natural epilogue.

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