The Hospital [DOCUMENTARY]


Director: Krzysztof Kieślowski
Country/Year: Poland, 1977
Duration: 20’

At first, Kieslowski did not want to make a documentary about doctors – it was meant to be a film about how a group of people is able to overcome obstacles and shortcomings in order to succeed. He finally stumbled upon the 1st Traumatology Ward of the hospital on Barska street in Warsaw and that’s where he found his heroes. He followed them with a camera for 3 months during their weekly 31 hour shift. He was able to frame their professional daily life almost entirely focused on the physicians, leaving the images of suffering patients offscreen. Apart from being tired and overworked, the medical personnel has to struggle with other problems: lack of supplies and appropriate specialist equipment, which also makes the documentary a depiction of Polish 1970s reality. Kieslowski arranged the film material consecutively, where an image with a specific hour informs of the passage of time, and the viewer feels that he or she is joining the doctors for their entire, killer shift.

About the director:

Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941-1996) – a world famous director, who began his career as a documentalist. He was among the authors of the so-called “Cinema of Moral Anxiety” who, towards the end of the 1970s, decided to point their cameras closer to reality. They wanted to show real people and real problems through screen fiction. Man, his ethical choices and existential problems, was the centre of Kieslowski’s work. The director created the unique TV series “The Decalogue”, which was an attempt at a modern interpretation of the ten commandments – the basic ethical rules upon which Christian and Judaism culture are formed. Krzysztof Piesiewicz, an attorney, was Kieslowski’s regular collaborator, with whom he wrote most of his screenplays. In the later period of his work, the director became interested in metaphysics, a feature of the films he produced in France in the 1990s: “The Double Life of Veronique” and the trilogy “Three Colours: Blue, White, Red”, which symbolically correspond to three colors of the French flag.

Most important films:

  • 1979 “Camera Buff”
  • 1981 “Blind Chance”
  • 1984 “No End”
  • 1987 “A Short Film About Killing”
  • 1988 “A Short Film About Love”
  • 1991 “The Double Life of Veronique”
  • 1993 “Three Colours: White”

Author: Mikołaj Góralik
Translation to English: Katarzyna Matej