Stones for the Rampart (Kamienie na szaniec) is a Polish film from 2014 loosely based on the 1943 historical novel of the same name by Aleksandr Kamiński. The book was extremely popular even when it was released, though it was only circulated by an underground press, and it is still widely read in Poland. An earlier film adaptation of the book, called Operation Arsenal (Akcja pod arsenałem), was released in 1978.
The film is about the Gray Ranks, the Polish underground scout movement during World War Two. The main characters are three members of the Warsaw branch of the movement, Jan Bytnar (“Rudy”), Tadeusz Zawadzki (“Zośka”), and Alek, who must make difficult choices about the acts of resistance they are willing to carry out and then deal with the consequences that follow. When Rudy is taken prisoner by the Gestapo, the other members of the Gray Ranks plan a daring rescue operation.
The 2014 film is not entirely faithful to the book, rather using it as inspiration to tell a story that is mainly about the friendship of the main characters. Because the film was such a departure from the book and the historical sources about the events of that time period, many people criticized the film. It was seen as downplaying the heroism of the people who took part in the events, and the descendants of the book’s author distanced themselves from the film. The director, Robert Gliński, seemed to intend to portray the main characters as real young adults rather than as mythological heroes—there are coming-of-age scenes that were not a part of the original book. Audiences gave it average reviews on IMDB and Filmweb.pl, and the film did not win any awards.
Director: Robert Gliński
Stars: Tomasz Ziętek, Marcel Sabat, Kamil Szeptyski, Magdalena Koleśnik, Sandra Staniszewska
Production company: Monolith Films, Akces Films