In this documentary about a change in one woman’s professional path, Gryczełowska comes across as a supporter of idealistic social engagement. With its compelling title, To Fully Live One Life succinctly chronicles the story of Wanda Bartówna-Gebethner, whose unusual and radical move from theatre to the education of children awarded her with personal satisfaction.
Having left her profession as an actress, at the start of the film Bartówna-Gebethner is shown teaching children in one of the local cultural centres in Warsaw. These observational shots frame her as patient, understanding and caring. Similar sequences are repeated later in the documentary.
At the most basic level, the film intercuts observations with excerpts from on-camera interviews. The latter reveal Bartówna-Gebethner’s contentment with her new career. Although rather secretive about the actual moment of her departure from the theatre, she says that she started working with the young, because she ‘wanted to feel needed’.
Knowingly or not, in this film Gryczełowska bows to the myth of the self-sacrificing woman, who is best fulfilled in life by assuming a profession that is dedicated to children’s needs. As though to confirm this, in its touching final sequence the documentary praises Bartówna-Gebethner for her heroic abandonment of personal glory to serve the local community.