From Expatriation Through Defection to Immigration: Polish Characters in Wartime and Cold War Film (1940–1980)

  • Kris Van HeuckelomEmail author
Part of the Palgrave European Film and Media Studies book series (PEFMS)


At the example of selected British and Italian productions from the 1940s and 1950s, this chapter points, first of all, to the rapid (geo)politicisation of international migration in the early Cold War era and the contribution of these films to the cinematic rising of the Iron Curtain. It equally argues that this paradigmatic shift involves a revival (and remasculinisation) of the romantic ethos traditionally associated with Polish exiles. The chapter then discusses the transition from an apologetic (self-defensive) attitude to a self-critical stance in a series of existentialist films from the 1960s to 1970s (each of which “smuggles” an immigrant character of Polish extraction into the conflict between tradition and encroaching modernisation). The chapter closes by analysing three comparable productions from the 1970s (each of which is set against a background of growing anti-immigrant sentiment and concentrates on the issue of masculine breakdown in foreign space).


Migration Poland European cinema Cold war Geopolitics Defection Modernisation Europeanisation Roman Polanski Exile Nomadism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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