Goraczka (Fever) (1981)




Director:     Agnieszka Holland.

Starring:     Barbara Grabowska (Kama),  Adam Ferency (Wojtek Kielza),  Boguslaw Linda (Gryziak),  Olgierd Lukaszewicz (Leon),  Tomasz Miedzik (Kamil),  Aleksy Awdiejew (Governor's Aide),  Wiktor Grotowicz (Governor's Butler),  Tadeusz Huk (Chemist),  Michal Juszczakiewicz (Michal),  Krzysztof Kiersznowski (Activist),  Marian Lacz (Kielza's Uncle),  Pawel Nowisz (Wartki),  Ryszard Sobolewski (Governor),  Michal Tarkowski (Doctor),  Krzysztof Zaleski (Czarny).

in 1905 Poland anarchists try to assassinate the Tsarist Governor-General




Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.


Anarchists ambush a prison vehicle in order to release anarchist Marek 'Leon'.  A number of guards are killed as well as boy out walking his dog. 

"This story is set in 1905-1907.  Its heroes are militants of the socialist party. "

An anarchist woman named Kama comes to see an anarchist man who has just developed a new bomb.  This bomb has a new formula that produces a bigger explosion.  He will continue working on more bombs with some new improvements.  Kama would like to know why the anarchist came here to help the Polish anarchists?  He says:  "It appeals to me.  It seems so stirring!  To fight evil, to kill evil with a bomb."   

As the woman leaves the house, she sees the police arriving at the house.  The policeman in charge of the operation gives the order:  "Surround the house!"   The bomb maker and his mother are arrested.   Kama is very upset about this and hits a wall with her fists and starts crying. 

A young boy named Piotr comes in to speak with Marek 'Leon'.  The boy asks him:  "Is it true you want to kill the Tsar?"  Marek says that's just nonsense.  The boy says he know it's all a secret and gives him something that Marek can sell in order to get  money to help pay for the buying of a bomb.  The boy leaves. 

Marek's father, judging from his home, is very well-off.  He comes into the room and asks Marek:  "Why have you come?"  The son says he came home only to get money from his family.  He adds that he escaped from prison.  Dad looks worried, but Marek tells him that he can relax for he went to prison under a false name.  Dad tells him to leave Poland, but Marek says he's staying. 

Now father and son start arguing over the right methods to use to change society.   Dad says Marek is using "mindless terrorism".    He declares:  "This will end in butchery and the collapse of values."  And the anarchists will be the first victims of their own methods and beliefs.  He adds that Marek will be the undoing of Poland. 

Dad changes the subject to the marriage of Marek's sister to a Pole serving as a Russian military officer.  He goes on to say that the Governor is coming bv and he will ask the influential man to give a pardon to Marek.  Marek says no thank you, but he does ask for the money.  Dad gives it to him and Marek says he will leave by the back way. 

At a public bath, Marek has fallen asleep in a bathtub and the workers are going to call for a constable to remove him.   One worker leaves, while the other one goes to check out Marek some more.  Marek grabs him and pushes him into an empty bath tub and hits the worker a couple of times.  He then grabs his shoes and clothes and runs to hide elsewhere. 

Kama examines the bomb.  There is a knock at her door.  She is ready to explode the bomb and kill herself and whoever comes into the room, but she stops when she sees that it's Leon (aka Marek).  He sleeps on the floor in her room, but soon gets up and goes to her bed where he has very quick sex with the woman.  He lays in the bed with her.  She sits up with a big smile on her face. 

The anarchists get together for a meeting.  They talk about potential targets for the use of the new bomb.  They also ask who should throw the bomb?  Some of the men want the bomb to be used to get the Chemist out of prison.  The woman anarchist says the bomb should be saved for use in an important assassination.   "For the Tsar!"  The men say no, so the woman says the bomb then should be used to kill the Governor.  Leon tells them he will hold the bomb until it needs to be used.  The men say that the bomb needs to be used now. 

Leon tells his comrades that he thanks them for rescuing him from prison.   But their plan was weak.  It ended in the death of two of their comrades and Leon himself had to stay in the open all night.  He wants to be a key player in the planning of their next operation.  He says they are short on pistols.  He takes the money he got from his father and gives it to Kamil to make the necessary purchases.  He now dismisses the meeting.  He holds Andrzej back, asking him for his addresses.  He tells the few men still in the room that he will be out of town but will return on Wednesday for another meeting with the comrades. 

Kamil waits for Kama outside.  He asks her for once to let him accompany her home.   Kamil says they could go dancing.   The woman says a comrade sits in prison and might be put to death and Kamil wants to go dancing.  He persists so she tells him frankly:  "We will always be at cross-purposes.  I know what you are after."

Leon is given a ride in a wagon by one of the comrades.  They pass by the police bringing in some bandits to prison.  Leon goes to a place where he can bury the items he does not want the police or anyone else to find. 

At the next anarchist meeting, a new fellow is brought in to become a member of the group.  He, however, is recognized by one of the anarchists who screams that this mean is the traitor!  This is the man who betrayed Zaliwski to the police!  The fellow knocks the newcomer down the steps.  Leon asks how can the man be sure the newcomer is the traitor?   Because the guy came in with the police wearing a mask, but the mask slipped and his face was exposed to everyone.    The guy says it wasn't him and that he is from the Slamowice gang, but it's strictly non-political. 

The newcomer is taken over the county line.  There he is shot three times by one of the anarchists, but the shooter was so nervous that none of the shots were fatal.  So Leon rushes over and shoots the man in the heart. 

Leon gets off a train at a station where he senses that the police are around the area.  He tries to leave the station, but his way is blocked.  So he sits down on a station bench with his satchel in his lap.  The police are there.  They discuss if they should arrest Leon now, but one of the policemen says they can't now because God only knows what the anarchist has in that satchel (such as a bomb).  Everybody in the station seems to know the police are here waiting to capture the mysterious stranger.  The police know Leon is a terrorist of the bomb-throwing kind and he just recently escaped the gallows. 

The police wait a little too long for now a train has come in and discharged a great many passengers.  The man in charge tries to beat the crowd to Leon, but Leon throws something in a white cloth material and the policeman dives for cover.  This gives Leon time to intermingle with the new arrivals and work his way out of the station.

The Governor asks a policeman for the night's developments.  The Cossacks are out on patrol.  The strike continues, but there are no demonstrations.  The Governor asks if Prokuriakov's funeral has taken place already?  The answer is yes, and the man's body has been taken to St. Petersburg.  There was an explosion and panic with Prokuriakov laying there, blown to pieces.  The next question is did they hang the new man?  Yes, this morning.  (The "new man" executed was the Chemist who made the anarchists' bomb.)

Members of the Strike Committee tell a huge crowd of strikers:  "Listen!  We have made the authorities turn tail.  The state of war introduced in August has been lifted!"  The workers are jubilant and start singing together. 

A "Countess" (really Kama in costume) comes to a doctor who earlier received a shipment.  She says she has come for the crown jewels of Her Highness.  The doctor tells the woman that he is only interested in the mental health of the Countess.  The doctor goes over to his desk and sees the maid there cleaning it up.  He gets angry and tells her that he has told her many times not to clean around his desk.  The maid leaves and the doctor opens his drawer where he placed the shipment from earlier in the day.  And he now sees that the bomb is laying right there in his middle drawer.  He seems shocked to see it right there so close to him. 

Leon is waiting in a carriage for the bomber and the bomb.  Kamil is going to be the get-away driver after the bomb explodes.  Kamil is upset that the bomber will be the "Countess" for he fears that she will be blown up along with her target.  The "Countess" arrives and gets into the carriage.  Off the carriage goes. 

The Governor is getting dressed.  His personal assistant helps him dress.  He comments about the large parade of strikers coming down through the streets.  He adds that the Poles can never keep up anything for long, so there is no worry.  And in 1863 they had an uprising too.  But:  "This time is only riff-raff and Jews." 

Kama gets into the building where they expect the Governor will make an appearance.  She is accompanied by Marek. 

The Governor appears nervous at making this public appearance coming up.  His assistant with his incessant talking seems to be making the Governor nervous with his mention of strange characters being out this night.  He says:  "They are up to something."  The Governor yells at the loquacious man to bring him his sword.

Kama gets ready to drop the bomb at the feet of the Governor within five paces of the man.  But now the Governor in his residence faints.  A guard runs outside to cancel the carriage for the Governor.  The delay starts to be too much for Kama and she starts laughing hysterically.  Leon has to take her outside to the waiting carriage.  They get in and go, but then Kama starts fighting Leon to get out.  He has to slap her a couple of times and cuts her lower lip, but he does keep her from jumping out of the carriage. 

Leon is pretty calm about the whole thing.  He tells her that she is just not cut out for certain assignments.  He will figure out a way to get to the Governor and kill him, but Kama will not be there with him.  He tells her she's more suited for standing on a soapbox and arousing the masses.   Kama gets angry at him and says:  "You have no right to send me packing or go easy on me."    Kamil bends down to ask the two to tell him at last where do they want him to take them?   Kama begs Kamil to take her away from here. 

Kamil ends up in bed with Kama and has sexual intercourse with her.  (brief nudity)  He's thrilled at this development, but Kama acts like it was torture for her to have sex with Kamil. 

Leon goes to the farm of anarchist Wojtek and has him to bury the bomb in his barn.   

Leon pays a visit to the anarchist doctor. He tells Leon that he too is going to cut off contact with Leon. He takes Leon over to see Kama who is a mental patient of the doctor. When Leon tries to talk with her, she goes into a fit. She tears the bandages off her hands and hides under one of the hospital beds. Kamil arrives and holds Kama tight to him. He tells Leon to get out and Leon complies. Coming out of the hospital, the police catch Leon.

Anarchist Wojtek goes to visit his uncle. He says he wants to get into contact again with the anarchists. For a year there has been little or no anarchist activity and the anarchists he knows just donít know what to do. Uncle tells Wojtek to forget the revolution and forget the Party. His advice is for Wojtek to live his live and go home before the police arrest him. Wojtek says thatís ridiculous and adds that he will go see Josef. Uncle tell his nephew that Josef is in prison. Wojtek objects that Josef wasnít even really a member of the group. Uncle says these days it doesnít matter. One can be arrested for being with the anarchists or for not being with the anarchists.

Wojtek wonders if the cause is so lost, then who is doing all this killing of all the spies? Uncle replies that there are still a lot of trigger-happy types around.

Wojtek goes to see a Mr. Cazimir and asks him if Mme Wojdalinska has returned? Cazimir says he knows no such lady. Furthermore, his name has been changed. He is no longer Cazimir. Wojtek begs the man for a few addresses, but the former Cazimir says he canít help the man. Wojtek leaves in disgust.

Wojtek runs into the police and they ask him for his papers. Itís then that Wojtek sees that the police have already taken Leon into custody.

Wojtek goes down to where they had the long-lasting strike to get some names and addresses, but they canít help him either. A man tells him that rallies and the Party are things of the past. "Order has been restored, thank God.." Wojtek is stopped from coming into the work place.

Hearing the commotion outside, a bunch of men come up to Wojtek and ask him what Party is he talking about? "The Polish Socialist Party! Iíve brought a bomb and money." One of the men says: "Weíre sick of bombs!" Another says the old Party has been split into many factions. And now somebody says Wojtek is a spy! Things start getting rough, so Wojtek breaks free of the men and starts running as fast as he can. One of the worker tries to shoot Wojtek with his pistol, but the other workers stop the hot head.

Wojtek now goes into a restaurant and bar where the anarchists used to hang out, but the place looks almost deserted of customers. He gets a beer and sits down. A man walks over to him and sits down. He tells Wojtek that he is not very wise or cautious to shout "I have a bomb because Iím a socialist!" The man says the Party had a big split. Life is hard for the socialists now. Thereís arrests, raids and a reactionary wave. Despite this, the guy will take Wojtek to meet some other socialists.

Wojtek is introduced to a socialist/anarchist that is extremely interested in Wojtekís bomb. Wojtek tells the man that he will throw the bomb at anyone the man selects. The fellow wants to get his hands on the bomb, but Wojtek insists that he will deliver the bomb when the time comes.  Wojtek now asks if the guys could give him a job to do so he can stay active. They say they will take Wojtek to meet the committee. And off they go in a carriage, but the men take Wojtek not to the committee, but to the police station.

Wojtek gets put in a cell. The prisoner who said he was from the Slamowice gang is put in with Wojtek. He says he is being released tomorrow. He was in a cell with two others and they were hanged. And no, they weren't socialists. Wojtek says heís a socialist and has been sentenced to die.   Wojtek asks the bandit if he would give his highly secret letter to his Uncle? He hands the tightly folded letter over to the bandit, who slips it into his heel.

When the bandit gets out of prison he goes to the spy who took Wojtek to the police. The bandit wants to sell him some information. The spy says he joined the Okhrana (a secret police force of the Russian Empire) six months ago and gets 75 rubles a month in salary, expenses and perks. He even urges the bandit to join up with the Okhrana. When the bandit gets his advance payment of 50 rubles, he leaves.

The wife of Wojtekís uncle says that maybe the socialists will rescue Wojtek from execution. Uncle says those days are long gone. And besides he warned Wojtek to stay away from the anarchists and socialists. So Wojtek gets what he deserves.

The Aunt asks what should they do with his things? She asks because the box he has is so heavy that it fills like itís loaded with lead. This makes Uncle curious. He opens a drawer to examine whatís in the heavy box.

The bandit pays a short visit to the Okhrana spy. He shoots the man twice through a window as the two men motion to each other.

Uncle closes all the shutters in his place. He removes the bomb from the box and hides it. He turns and sees the bandit standing there watching him. He nervously tells the bandit that the bomb is not theirs. It was planted here!

The bandit takes out the secret letter from the heel of one of his boots and gives it to Uncle. Then the bandit takes the bomb and hides it under his cape. He says to Uncle that soon he will be joining Wojtek.

Wojtek is taken out of his cell for his execution. He is hanged just after he says: "Down with the Tsar!"

Uncle reads Wojtekís letter to his wife. Wojtek says in the letter that his wife and children may think he abandoned them for the cause but he loved her and the children. Itís just that he felt compelled to do something against the Tsarist reign over Poland. He ends with: "Long live Poland!"

The bandit now takes to the police station the man who tricked Wojtek to get him into the police station where he was arrested. He has the man open a door to a committee room that is filled with men. He pulls the fuse and then tosses the bomb onto the table to explode it, but the bomb just doesnít explode.

The men wait for awhile for the explosion but when it still doesnít explode they rush the bandit and capture him. Then the men start beating the bandit as he laughs and laughs.

The bomb is taken out to be defused. The man pulls on the top and the delayed fuse is set in motion. The bomb disposal man now throws the bomb into the river where it explodes with tremendous force.



In the 19th century Poland had a lot of uprisings and revolution against foreign domination.  But after much work and many deaths the Poles turned away from rebellion and focused on improving the nation.  But in the late 19th century, the fight against the abuses created by the Industrial Revolution caused the growth of socialism, and, more specifically, anarchism complete with its famed bomb throwing.  This film, a good one, shows how all the attempts of the anarchists were thwarted by their use of violence of which bombing was an often used technique.  Many of the anarchists are executed, some are killed, others go insane, or simply drop out of the anarchism movement.  The film follows the passing of one bomb between different anarchists and watching the unfortunate results for those holding the bomb.  We see the falling apart of the anarchist movement.  We also see the examination of the motives and motivations of the various anarchists as they come to sad ends.  Barbara Grabowska (as Kama) and Olgierd Lukaszewicz (as Marek/Leon) were both very good. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph.  D.



Historical Background:


"Increasing oppression at Russian hands after failed national uprisings finally convinced Polish leaders that the recent insurrection was premature at best and perhaps fundamentally misguided and counterproductive. During the decades that followed the January Insurrection, Poles largely forsook the goal of immediate independence and turned instead to fortifying the nation through the subtler means of education, economic development, and modernization. This approach took the name "Organic Work" (Praca organiczna) for its philosophy of strengthening Polish society at the grass roots, influenced by positivism. For some, the adoption of Organic Work meant permanent resignation to foreign rule, but many advocates recommended it as a strategy to combat repression while awaiting an eventual opportunity to achieve self-government."

Throughout the late 19th century, profound social and economic forces operated on the Polish lands.  At the time Poland was divided into Russian Poland and the Silesian regions under German control.  "The grievances of the lower classes led to the formation of peasant and socialist parties. Communism gained only a marginal following, but a more moderate socialist faction led by Jůzef Piłsudski won broader support through its emphatic advocacy of Polish independence. By 1905 Piłsudski's party, the Polish Socialist Party, was the largest socialist party in the entire Russian Empire. The National Democracy of Roman Dmowski became the leading vehicle of the right by espousing a doctrine that combined nationalism with hostility toward Jews and other minorities. By the turn of the 20th century, Polish political life had emerged from the relative quiescence of Organic Work and entered a stage of renewed assertiveness. In particular, Piłsudski and Dmowski had initiated what would be long careers as the paramount figures in the civic affairs of Poland. After 1900 political activity was suppressed only in the Prussian sector."  Wikipedia




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