Director Jerzy Kawalerowicz fantasized about creating a film about an extinct world, a community long dead. Austeria mourns a culture now extinct. Set against the turbulent history of the first half of the 20th century, the film examines the lives of Polish Jews on the eve of World War I. Refugees ranging from a Hungarian hussar to an Austrian Baroness seek sanctuary from the Russian army in a country inn, the eponymous Austeria, which belongs to a Jewish innkeeper called Tag. Tag watches as the war and the looming Russian army draw ever closer. The final scene of the film brings with it the mass destruction of unsuspecting Jewish civilians, foreshadowing the events of the Holocaust. Though almost instantly received as a masterpiece, the Commission for Film Approval forced Kawalerowicz, a Communist Party member, to alter his original ending, thereby dispelling any negative image of the Russian regime. The director acquiesced, and a new scene was conceived, removing the Russian soldiers as murderers.
1982 Chicago IFF – Gold Hugo – nomination. 1984 Polish Film Festival – Golden Lions – winner.
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Jerzy Kawalerowicz. Written by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Tadeusz Konwicki, Julian Stryjkowski. Cinematography by Zygmunt Samosiuk. Production design by Jerzy Skrzepiński. Film editing by Wiesława Otocka. Music by Leo- pold Kozłowski. Production management: Urszula Orczykowska, Zygmunt Wójcik. © Studio Filmowe Kadr. Cast: Franciszek Pieczka (Tag), Wojciech Pszoniak (Josele), Jan Szurmiej (Cantor), Ewa Domańs- ka (Asia), Wojciech Standełło (Tzaddik), Liliana Komorowska (Jewdocha), Szymon Szurmiej (Wilf), Gołda Tencer (Blanka), Marek Wilk (Bum Kramer), Gerard Ojeda (Hungarian officer), Zofia Saretok (Baroness), Stanisław Igar (Apfelgrun).