Polish Vodka has been enjoying continuing popularity worldwide for several decades now. No wonder that it has been featuring in many Polish films and shows since its early days and it was only a matter of time before it appeared on screen next to European and American film stars. Here are some examples from the history of Polish and World cinematography where our national beverage starred alongside the most prominent actors and actresses.
From PRL until today
Is there even a single film from the era of the People’s Republic of Poland where they do not drink a glass of vodka? Perhaps, but let us not bother with those now. In the cinema of the period, vodka is often presented in the context of bigger and smaller social gatherings. For example, Andrzej Wajda’s classic Niewinni czarodzieje (Innocent Sorcerers) from 1960 tells the story of a meeting between two characters – a young couple infatuated with each other. On their first date, Bazyli and Pelagia agree that they should begin their encounter with a glass of vodka. Żytnia is the key element of the “Bruderschaft” ritual in Jerzy Gruza’s Czterdziestolatek (The Forty-Year-Old). Thirty bottles of the same vodka are served at a wedding reception in Roman Załuski’s film Kogel-mogel (Gogl-Mogl) made in 1988.
In Stanisław Bareja’s cult film Miś (Teddy Bear) from 1980, vodka becomes the tool to carry out a cunning scheme. In one of the few grotesque short stories in the film, a character by the name of Stuwała uses two human-sized teddy bears to smuggle several dozen bottles of vodka. Whereas in a scene from another comedy by Bareja, Brunet wieczorową porą (Brunet Will Call) from 1976, there is nothing that a character played by Krzysztof Kowalewski craves more than to spend the evening chilling over a glass of Żytnia.
Polish Vodka in Hollywood
Polish Vodka has made it to the big screen all across Europe and overseas. A great example is the French film Betty Blue from 1985 directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix. After a series of dramatic events, the protagonist, by the name of Zorg, ends up at a police station. And what sort of alcohol is he offered by the policeman on duty? It is vodka, of course, straight from Poland! Wyborowa, to be precise.
Polish Vodka has also been to the outer space – at least in film – which was made possible by the crew of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, from 2012. Again, it was a bottle of Wyborowa that appeared alongside the female protagonist in the intense scene where the spacecraft breaks down.
It is worth mentioning that 2015 was a momentous year in vodka’s cinematic career. This is when the media wrote at length about the dethronement of Russian vodka in the latest James Bond film. In Sam Mendes’s Spectre, Bond clearly prefers the Polish brand Belvedere to Russian distillates.
We could list numerous scenes in film, literature and in other arts which feature Polish vodka. We encourage you to do your own hunt for traces of our national beverage in different types of artistic productions. It could be a great pretext for hosting yet another film night or a fascinating subject to discuss with friends, perhaps over a glass of vodka.