|Richard Brzostek - 12/17/2008
Some birthdays can be uneventful or forgettable while other birthdays are unforgettable. "Birthday" (Urodziny Mlodego Warszawiaka) shows us four days in the life of a young man named Jerzy Bielecki - but only his birthdays, September 24 1938, 1939, 1943 and 1944. The birthdays shown are moments of a chaotic time during World War II. The film is like a portrait of a young man; it shows his days and experiences, as well those of the brave people he knew. Occasionally, in the style of a narrator, he tells us the fate others.
The first two segments set the stage while the last develop the story. In 1938 we see Jerzy at the young age of 17 before the war. Instead of going aboard for studies he joins the army. In 1939, a few weeks into the war, Jerzy is in the army and Warsaw is under siege. A few years later in 1943, a more mature Jerzy works in the underground army doing what he can to liberate his city. Finally, in 1944 we see the 56th day of the Warsaw uprising. The city is in ruins and the resistance now wears uniforms openly. (Note the use of improvised equipment such as a German helmet with a red and white band around it). With each birthday the story only gets more interesting.
"Birthday" is an excellent war drama. Jerzy isn't just a Polish patriot but a true hero. He even manages to find love in brief moments of respite during the war. He always makes time on his birthday to visit his father and the changes we see in his father's situation are like a reflection of the current happenings. The story builds to a point where it would be difficult not to call it poignant.
|Click to view All Reviews