At the beginning of February, a unique film made in 1946, Wielka Droga [The Great Way], will be screened several times in the Los Angeles area. It will be presented by the Modjeska Art & Culture Club in Tujunga, CA on February 4, and the USC Polish Music Center in downtown Los Angeles on February 5. Both events will feature a discussion with Dr. Dorota Lekka from the National Film Archive in Poland.

Admission is free for both screenings, however RSVP is required (see below).

Henryk Wars with his Polish Parade Orchestra, Teheran 1942
Henryk Wars with his Polish Parade Orchestra, Teheran 1942

The Great Way tells the story of the soldiers of the Second Corps of the Polish Army under the command of General Wladyslaw Anders, the so-called “Anders’ Army.” The film contains unique archival materials, as well as contributions from those who themselves were part of the actual Anders’ Army. The female lead of the film was portrayed by actress Irena Anders, who traveled with 2nd Corps as a singer and later married the General. It also features a score by Henryk Wars (known as Henry Vars after emigrating to the US), who was the leader of the ‘Polish Parade’ ensemble that served in the Anders’ Army. One of the themes of Wars’s Piano Concerto, written much later in the US, was based on a song played by the Polish Parade during WWII and used in the score of this epic film.

Sunday, Feb 4, 2024 | 4:30 pm: lecture, 5:15 pm: film screening & discussion
“Wielka Droga” Film Screening & Lecture by Modjeska Art & Culture Club
Bolton Hall Museum
10110 Commerce Ave, Tujunga, CA 91042
Admission is free, RSVP required:
More info:
Reception to follow

Monday, Feb 5, 2024 | 2:00 pm: film screening & discussion
“Wielka Droga” Film Screening by USC Polish Music Center

USC Thornton School of Music, MUS 303 (map)
840 W 34th St, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Admission is free, RSVP required:
Campus Parking: $4/hr or $20/day (McCarthy Way Structure)

This event was prepared in cooperation with Jerzy Barankiewicz, the president of the Polish Art Salon in San Diego, where the screening will also take place on February 10, 2024.

About the Lecturer

Dorota Lekka

Dr. Dorota Lekka, PhD, Head of the International Cooperation Department at Poland’s National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute. Her responsibilities include the promotion of Poland’s film heritage around the world, as well as coordinating the Archive’s joint projects with international and external institutional partners.

About the Film

Wielka Droga [The Great Way]
Directed By Michał Waszyński
Italy and Poland, 1946, 87 Min

The film depicts the fate of an engaged couple separated by various circumstances of the Second World War: from the siege of Lviv in 1939 to the formation of the Anders’ Army inside the USSR, through its wanderings across Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt, to the Italian campaign. The most important and valuable element of the film is its authentic documentary footage, including the Battle of Monte Cassino, in which the film’s protagonist Adam is wounded.

The Great Way is more than 75 years old, but has only become known to Polish audiences relatively recently. The only version of this film available in Poland to date came into the possession of the National Film Archive in 1962 from the USA. However, due to its inconvenient themes around Soviet Russia, the film sat on a shelf for 25 years without ever being shown to the public. Because it contained numerous authentic recordings showing the life of the II Corps along the entire route of its march, including drills, participation in military operations, and preparations for the Battle of Monte Cassino, it was treated not as a film but documentary footage, with only excerpts of it being made available.

The first screenings of the film in its entirety, though open only to students, took place in 1988 and 1989 in Katowice and Wroclaw. In April 1991 the film was televised, which was the first time it was shown to the general public in Poland. It was only then, 45 years after its premiere, that The Great Way came into the consciousness of viewers across the country.

Prepared by the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute, the now reconstructed film stands as yet another highly important undertaking aimed at restoring the contributions of Polish filmmakers to Polish culture and collective memory. It is an act of giving due place in Polish culture to wartime and later emigrant artists, who, also being soldiers, shared the wandering fate and inconveniences of frontline conditions with the II Corps, at the same time, through their talent and the beauty they created, upholding the national spirit and faith in a return to a free homeland – which many never lived to see.

The journey of The Great Way to audiences in Poland was a long one. Thanks to the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute, today we have the opportunity to interact with a unique relic of Polish cinematography. Following the film’s heroes, we symbolically walk the path of The Great Way alongside Anders’ Army.

About the Presenters

To learn more about the Modjeska Art & Culture Club of Southern California and its long-standing tradition in the thematic area of the Second Corps of the Polish Army of General Władysław Anders, please visit To learn more about the Wars archives at USC, please see the Henryk Wars Collection.

[Source: press release]