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The Peasants review – disconcertingly beautiful animation of a dark Polish saga | Film

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A free-spirited young beauty in late 19th-century rural Poland falls foul of the repressive patriarchy, the petty-minded jealousies simmering in her village and her own extremely poor judgment in this lavish rotoscoped and oil-painted animation. Directors DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman, the team behind the Oscar-nominated Loving Vincent, employ the same painstaking and striking animation technique as they used to explore the final days in the life of Vincent van Gogh.

This time, the source material is The Peasants, the 1924 Nobel prize-winning epic novel by Władysław Reymont. This is a key issue. Condensing a huge, sweeping story that weaves together Polish traditions and national identity into a two-hour film proves to be challenging, and the result feels a little soapy and sensationalist at times, with lots of covert rutting in haystacks and bodices in permanent disarray. And the film is a match for Lars von Trier’s Dogville in its grimly relentless approach to misogyny and sexual violence. A disconcertingly beautiful picture about the ugliness of humanity.


A free-spirited young beauty in late 19th-century rural Poland falls foul of the repressive patriarchy, the petty-minded jealousies simmering in her village and her own extremely poor judgment in this lavish rotoscoped and oil-painted animation. Directors DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman, the team behind the Oscar-nominated Loving Vincent, employ the same painstaking and striking animation technique as they used to explore the final days in the life of Vincent van Gogh.

This time, the source material is The Peasants, the 1924 Nobel prize-winning epic novel by Władysław Reymont. This is a key issue. Condensing a huge, sweeping story that weaves together Polish traditions and national identity into a two-hour film proves to be challenging, and the result feels a little soapy and sensationalist at times, with lots of covert rutting in haystacks and bodices in permanent disarray. And the film is a match for Lars von Trier’s Dogville in its grimly relentless approach to misogyny and sexual violence. A disconcertingly beautiful picture about the ugliness of humanity.

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