Today one of the most viewed and recycled archive films by Jadwiga Plucińska, this documentary is a brief chronicle showing the rise of student culture in Wrocław over the first two years after the end of World War Two.
It opens with images of ruins in the city centre to then suggest that students contributed to the reconstruction of both the city’s university and the higher technological school.
Quickly edited observational archive shots show crammed, provisional rooms at the dormitories, where young men share beds, packed trams running through ruined streets and an overcrowded lecture room.
The narrator introduces himself as Mieczysław, one of the law students from Wrocław. He will later guide us through both the higher education schools. We will also observe his friend’s extracurricular activities.
Mieczysław comments that since 1945 the studying conditions have seen significant improvement. Contemporary chemistry and medical labs that appear on screen along with larger and lighter lecture rooms sharply contrast with the earlier footage.
The most interesting part of the film begins when Mieczysław leaves the faculty buildings to go to the canteen and then a coffee shop, where his apparent love interest, Krystyna works after school. Here, a poster on the wall reads: ‘Each student is a member of the student collective’.
It becomes clear that the collective organises paid work for students so that they can survive in the city. Mieczysław’s friends have jobs as salesmen, carpenters and private tutors. They are energetic enough to always find time for their work and study. Notably, when we see them reading and writing at their desks, they always indulge in smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.
Plucińska shows that despite the fact that their days are filled with school and work, they don’t stray away from entertainment. For a few brief moments towards the end of the film, we witness some of the young men attending evening dances and listening to the radio.
The closing shots reveal a panorama of the reconstructed city centre. Here, to foreground solidarity across different social classes, the narrator reminds us that such a quick rise from the ruins was only possible thanks to the joined effort of Polish workers, technicians and academics.