As World War One breaks out, Poland is caught in the middle of the global conflict. Hundreds of years previous to the events in this film, Poland had been partitioned by its neighbours, with the eastern half being absorbed into Russia. The western half was divided between Prussia and Austria.
Poles found themselves fighting for various European Empires that were not their own and yearned for the day when they would once again be free and Independent.
With the outbreak of World War I, Polish patriots saw an opportunity. If they could take up arms and fight for the Central Powers (Germany & Austro-Hungarian Empire), then perhaps their independence might be won at last.
What Is The Legions About?
The Legions (Legiony) tells the story of a Polish army unit formed at the outbreak of the First World War.
The film follows the journey of three men and one woman as they fight against Tsarist forces, in the newly formed Polish Legion. This unit fought on the side of the Central Powers through some of the most brutal battles of the war.
By defeating the common enemy, the Russians, Poles hoped to liberate themselves from oppression. The Polish Legions, as they were called, were formed from volunteers who flocked to the colours to fight for their country's freedom.
However, the movie is not just about war. It is also a love story too. Although I can't help feeling this is where the film falls a bit flat.
While I enjoyed the historical aspects of The Legions, I have to say that I was disappointed with the romantic aspect of the film. It felt forced and lacking in resolution.
Perhaps this is because I am not familiar with the true story that inspired this movie, but I found myself wanting more from this plotline or for it to be completely omitted.
The Legions does a good job of conveying the brutal reality of war and the high stakes that the Polish were fighting for. However, I felt that the romantic subplot was a bit weak and didn't add anything to the film.
Is The Legions Worth Watching?
Firstly I would say that if you are interested in history, and want to learn more about a little-known aspect of World War One, then The Legions is definitely worth watching.
How many Polish World War One films can you name? Not many, I would wager. So in that sense, The Legions is a welcome addition to the war film genre.
The action sequences are well done and give a good sense of the chaos and confusion of battle. However, you might need a deep understanding of Polish history to fully appreciate what is going on.
The movie is epic in scope and does a good job of portraying the various battles and political machinations that took place during this period.
Nevertheless, I would say that for non-Polish audiences, a brief introduction to the history of Poland, might be helpful before watching this film.
Overall, I would recommend The Legions to fans of war films and historical dramas. Just don't expect too much from the love story aspect of the film.