Polish Cinema: Psy (Wladyslaw Pasikowski, 1992, Poland)

Psy (also known as Dogs) was the first major commercial success of post-communist cinema. Inspired by American action films, the film brought brutality and violence that hadn't quite been seen before in Polish cinema. The film launched Boguslaw Linda as a true icon of Polish, spawned two sequels, and even created a new genre in Polish cinema - "bandit" films. 

The film's plot is very muddled but involves a conflict between two former secret police officers - played by Linda and Marek Kondrat - both of whom are having difficulties adjusting to post-communist life. Linda's Franz Maurer is a cynical tough-guy, world-weary in his confrontation of the new cutthroat capitalist Polish society. Psy was highly controversial at the time due to its cynicism toward various institutions in Polish society, notably Solidarity as well as the Catholic Church. 

While its plot focuses on a cover-up, Dogs reflects the great uncertainty of the post-Soviet era. The secret policemen in the film enjoyed very privileged status in Polish society before the collapse of Communism, but now they are ready to be kicked out by fresh new upstarts like the character of Nowy (played by fresh-faced Cezary Pazura). Our main character Franz Maurer's job is not the only uncertain thing - his wife has moved to America and taken his son. She is repossessing his house and vehicle.

More than anything else, the film seems to reflect a crisis of masculinity in the post-communist era. This is most demonstrated via the film's attitude toward women. They are relegated to the sidelines of the narrative, mainly treated as sex objects or potential sources of betrayal. This no doubt was emblematic of the new social gender order in Poland following the collapse of communism. Psy is a reasonably entertaining film, but for its historical context, it is worth watching.


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