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“The Pauper and the Madame” – screenings in England

Movie about the saint Albert Chmielowski, an artist who, in search of freedom and happiness, sacrifices everything for poor and vulnerable people.

Polish language film

Q&A with director and actors after the screening

The film “The Pauper and the Madame”  depicts the unique fate of Adam Chmielowski, an artist-painter who, in search of freedom and happiness, sacrifices everything.

His rebellious nature and conflict with evil make him not only escape from the tsarist captivity hidden in a coffin, but in the moments of greatest fame, he abandons the world of art to “die for the world” and devote himself to serving people. His tragic fate is completed by a spiritual breakdown, expulsion from the Jesuit order, and confinement in a mental institution. Soon, however, he rises like a phoenix from the ashes and then, mad with love for others, he returns in great style as Brother Albert – the future saint.

The epic story is completed by his friends – Helena Modrzejewska and Józef Chełmoński, the most famous artists of their epoch, but each in their own tragic way, will come to realize that the most beautiful art is the art of a beautiful life. 


The main message of the film is the desire for freedom which motivates the protagonist’s actions and leads to moral victory. His desire for freedom leads him to the January Uprising, allows him to escape from the tsarist captivity and return from political exile in France. His “free spirit” will also make him an artist-painter and allow him to taste fame. But even then he feels unsatisfied, and in time abandons art in favor of: “more freedom”. Soon, he “dies to the world” and goes to a Jesuit monastery. However, even there, his rebellious spirit suffocates within the walls of the intellectual monastery. Torn by doubts, he breaks down spiritually and, declared insane, ends up in a mental institution. Finally, he puts on his own habit and becomes Brother Albert. All this becomes the axis of the film’s plot: “The Pauper and the Madame” .

The fate of Chmielowski contains enormous staging and dramaturgical potential: gloomy forests of the uprising, colourful and swarming salons and theaters, musty backyards of the homeless, a mystical monastery, a grim psychiatric hospital and epic nature – against this background the film carries a universal message of great humanistic and ethical value, such as the affirmation of freedom or Prometheism.

The integrally depicted fate of Chmielowski is an original and innovative theme that has not yet been exhausted in either high or popular culture. Chmielowski’s biography par excellence has not yet been taken up by Polish cinema. Film and theatrical adaptations: “Our God’s Brother” were closed within Wojtyla’s drama, not touching Chmielowski’s biography.

August 20 will be the anniversary of his birth and November 12 the anniversary of Brother Albert’s canonization.  The interest in his person revived in 2017, which was announced the year of Brother Albert.

The film of high artistic and attendance potential consists of: historical and costume convention, the era of the January Uprising rarely present in the film, colourful episodes and an outstanding cast. The title roles have been given to young actors who have already had successful debuts on the big screen. Piotr Zajączkowski and Magdalena Michalik are perfectly cast in the roles of Adam and Helena. Numerous episodes have been given to popular actors. Among them are:  Krzysztof Wakuliński, Radosław Pazura, Lech Dyblik, Marcin Kwaśny, Mariusz Saniternik, and Jarosław Gajewski.

Witold Ludwig – director