The Mighty Angel / Pod mocnym aniołem

Published: October 9, 2016

The Mighty Angel (Pod mocnym aniołem; literally “under a strong angel”) is a 2014 Polish romance/drama film. It is a film version of the novel of the same name by Jerzy Pilch, which won the Nike, the preeminent Polish literary award, in 2001. An English-language translation was released in 2009. The film version was directed and written (with input from Pilch) by Wojciech Smarzowski, who also directed Traffic Department (Drogówka) and several other highly praised recent Polish films.

Its main character is Jerzy, a writer and alcoholic—and the alter ego of Jerzy Pilch—who is in and out of rehab. The film tells the long story of his last chance at redemption, when he falls in love, but even this may not be enough to help him quit drinking. The film shows his struggles, despair, and backsliding into alcoholism, and we also meet and learn the stories of the wide variety of people he meets on his journey. The title of the book and film refer in part to the bar where Jerzy does much of his drinking.

The film got fairly good reviews from audiences and critics and was nominated for four Eagles at the Polish Film Awards (for best screenplay, actor, supporting actor, and supporting actress), though it did not win any. Some viewers saw the film as almost uncomfortably realistic—it is by no means a comedy—but it was also praised for showing this dark but common side of life. Culture.pl actually saw the film as being even darker than the novel it was based on; the novel’s writing allowed some humor to seep in, but the film focused on the despair and absurdity of an alcoholic’s life.

Find The Mighty Angel on Amazon


Director: Wojciech Smarzowski
Stars: Robert Więckiewicz, Julia Kijowska, Jacek Braciak, Andrzej Grabowski, Kinga Preis
Production company: Klaudia Śmieja, Jacek Rzehak

Official trailer:

Find The Mighty Angel on Amazon


Mighty Angel

About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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