With Loving Vincent, the directors DK and Hugh Welchman attempted something that had never been done before: to create and edit together 65,000 oil paintings into a feature-length film. The result—which was the labor of 125 painters and numerous actors over the course of six years—was a unique amalgam of flesh, paint, and animation that earned the duo one of the top prizes at Berlinale as well as an Academy Award nomination. But that painstaking process (“the slowest form of filmmaking ever devised in 120 years,” as H. Welchman put it), didn’t discourage the couple one bit. On the contrary, it inspired them to test the limits of filmmaking once again, as their latest film, The Peasants (which not only entailed the same artistic problems but was also interrupted in production by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), unquestionably proves. Ahead of the January 26 release, the new trailer for Poland’s Oscar entry has now arrived.

Adapted from Władysław Reymont’s beloved four-volume novel of the same name, The Peasants “tells the story of Jagna, a young woman determined to forge her own path within the confines of a late 19th-century Polish village—a hotbed of gossip and ongoing feuds, held together, rich and poor, by pride in their land, adherence to colorful traditions and a deep-rooted patriarchy. When Jagna finds herself caught between the conflicting desires of the village’s richest farmer, his eldest son and other leading men of the community, her resistance puts her on a tragic collision course with the community around her.” The cast includes Kamila Urzędowska, Robert Gulaczyk, Sonia Mietielica, Ewa Kasprzyk, and Mirosław Baka, who is best-known for his role as Jacek in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s A Short Film About Killing.

In a mixed review of the film, TFS’s Christopher Schobert said this: “There are lovely moments in The Peasants, chiefly the exhilarating wedding between Jagna and Boryna set to the powerful music of Lukasz L.U.C. Rostkowski. Finally, though, there is only one sequence in The Peasants wherein these painted frames serve to enhance the story. It is a stunning change-of-seasons shot––we watch as snow falls and autumn in the village literally becomes winter. Otherwise the painting does not add to the narrative in any way. It feels obtrusive and showy, an unnecessary addition to a story that does not deserve such a meticulous process.”

Watch the trailer below:

The Peasants opens on January 26 and will expand.

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