Scripted by Zofia Wójtowicz, the film tells a rather schematic story of social advancement. Primarily relying on staged shots, it is reminiscent of narrative cinema. The viewer meets the main character, an unqualified, young peasant, Aniela Kałuża. To get her first job, she approaches a local textile factory in Krosnowice in Lower Silesia.
A fast learner, she soon becomes a local leader (przodownica pracy) in her trade. The voice-over narrator enthusiastically praises her for hard work and skill, for which she is eventually offered to relocate to Łódź to attend a school and to obtain additional qualifications.
Aniela hesitates, not sure if she’s fit for the city life. She also doesn’t want to leave her colleagues from the factory. Eventually, she decides to pursue the opportunity.
Four years later she comes back to Krosnowice eager to train new youngsters who had just entered the profession. At the end, for all her effort in mentoring, President Bolesław Bierut awards her with the Silver Order of Merit, one of the highest trophies a socialist worker could win.
Plucińska’s documentary closes on a propagandistic note with a photograph of Wincenty Pstrowski (1904-1948), a miner who in 1947 apparently achieved 270 per cent of his expected efficiency and was later used as an emblem of workplace competition in official press to inspire dedication among working class.
The commentator concludes: ‘The seed planted by the heroic miner sprouted even in the most remote parts of Poland’.
It is fair to argue that Plucińska’s film could be classified as a cliché agit poster, which presents a schematic story advocating workplace competition among factory workers. It nevertheless offered, however rose-tinted, an outlook on women migrating from the countryside to towns and cities.
Just like Aniela, many women saw work in modern factories as liberation from their traditional peasant lifestyles, a chance to climb the social hierarchy. Plucińska’s story shows that the post-war call for gender equality in the job market reached beyond big cities.
Despite its formulaic character, the film also points to the fears and anxieties of working class women when their job situation demanded relocation. Something that with their focus on the bright side of life, socialist realist documentaries largely ignored.