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Beata: All About Polish Lesson 10 - Top 5 pop culture things/icons you need to know about Poland
Nick: Welcome back to our All About Polish series!
Beata: "Cześć."
Nick: Today on PolishPod101, we bring you the Poland of today.
Beata: That's right, Polish pop culture.
Nick: Now, pop culture is a hard topic to pin down.
Beata That's right, it's constantly changing and developing...
Nick: So this is a little record of Polish pop culture in 2010?
Beata: Yes and no. We will be talking about current newsmakers, but we'll also touch on past Polish personalities and popular trends that remain influential even today.
Nick: So what do you want to start with?
Beata: Let's start with the world of sports.
Nick: From what I know, they play a very important role in the lives of many Poles.
Beata: There are some icons in Polish sports that Poles love with all their hearts. One of them is Adam Małysz. He's one of the world's most successful ski jumpers.
Nick: I saw him jumping in Vancouver. The commentators were calling him the "Polish Pilot" and even the "Flying Mustache," referencing his characteristic mustache and goatee.
Beata: He's really good. He actually won two silver medals for Poland in Vancouver. He's an unbelievable jumper.
Nick: Way to go.
Beata: Another great sportsman is Mariusz Pudzianowski, who's held the title of the World's Strongest Man five times, more championships than any other competitor in history.
Nick: Mariusz, also known as Pudzian, is really huge. He's six foot one and currently weighs 313 pounds. Wow.
Beata: Others worth mentioning are Tomasz Majewski, who won the gold medal in shot put in Beijing in 2008, and Otylia Jędrzejczak, one of the most renowned Polish swimmers, who broke the world record in women's butterfly in 2007. Also noteworthy would be Justyna Kowalczyk, winner of gold, silver, and bronze medals in cross-country skiing at the 2010 Vancouver games.
Nick: So how about music? I get the impression that music in Poland is quite different from music in the West.
Beata: Well, we've been experiencing a wave of Western influence on Polish popular music; however, I think that Polish bands still sound a lot different from what you hear in the West.
Nick: First of all, you have a lot of bands that have been performing for years.
Beata: Yes, the rock/pop groups such as Lady Pank, Budka Suflera, Big Cyc, and others have been representing the Polish music scene for quite some time, and you can definitely taste authentic Polish rhythms in their songs.
Nick: I couldn't agree more. Actually, I have a funny story to tell. I went once to a Polish discotheque—by the way, it's an experience of a lifetime. Anyway, so the second they began playing Polish hits, literally every Pole in the place started singing at the top of his or her lungs.
Beata: Oh, yes, I can see that happening. I've been there many times. (laugh) Wait for the groups such as Golec uOrkiestra or Brathanki who offer a unique and particularly Polish sound, mixing pop rhythms with Polish folk music and with foot stomping and whistling...Poles go crazy!
Nick: I think I will pass on that one. (laugh)
Beata: Okay, since you're not into whistling and stomping, let's talk now about Polish men and women who are well-known abroad. Do you know any Pole who's famous abroad?
Nick: Actually, yes, I do. I mean, throughout the centuries, Poland has produced its share of world-famous figures, such as Copernicus, Frederic Chopin, Solidarity hero Lech Wałęsa, and Pope John Paul II.
Beata: They, for sure, left their mark on history. However, in today's world, Poles who have achieved success abroad have been concentrated in more commercialized industries such as...
Nick: probably modeling and sports.
Beata: Very good. One of the most popular Polish models who's appeared on both runways and magazine pages around the world is Joanna Krupa, who's been recently voted by Maxim Magazine the Sexiest Swimsuit Model in the World.
Nick: Poland is well-known for its beautiful women. And I have to agree with that. So who else is popular?
Beata: When it comes to sports, goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek deserves to be mentioned. He's probably more recognizable in Europe than in the United States. And then Mariusz Czerkawski, who has made his mark on the ice in the NHL, playing from 1993 to 2006.
Nick: Any politicians worth mentioning?
Beata: Actually, two names come to my mind…Jerzy Buzek, who was recently elected the twenty-eighth president of the European Parliament, and Radosław Sikorski, who made an unsuccessful run for the position of Secretary General of NATO in 2009.
Nick: It seems to me that since Poland joined the European Union, Poles have been much more active on the world's political stage. And that's definitely a good sign.
Beata: Okay, so what else would you like to know about our pop culture?
Nick: Actually, I would like to ask you about Poland's movie industry. You do have some movie directors who are widely recognized for their remarkable pieces.
Beata: Among the most well-known movie directors are Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kieślowski, and Roman Polański. They all more or less represent old-school Polish cinema.
Nick: Andrzej Wajda, who you have just mentioned, is still active professionally, though, right?
Beata: Absolutely. He recently directed the movie "Katyń," which can be easily added to the list of Wajda's movies that have become staples of Polish filmography.
Nick: I've seen many of his movies; however, two of them, "Man of Marble" and "Man of Iron," made a huge impression on me. They show the everyday life of Polish citizens, from the post-war years of the 1950s all the way through to the struggles of the 1980s. Great, great movies. Andrzej Wajda was also awarded with an honorary Oscar in 2000 for his contributions to world cinema.
Beata: And his movies are also regularly nominated in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.
Nick: Besides Andrzej Wajda, you've mentioned the name Krzysztof Kieślowski. I know him mostly for his ten-part television series "The Decalogue."
Beata: Definitely. "The Decalogue" series, based on the Ten Commandments, brought him worldwide recognition. He also directed the trilogy "Three Colors…Blue, White, and Red," all produced in France, for which he received important international film awards. Unfortunately, he died in 1996 during heart surgery.
Nick: And the last name that you mentioned was Roman Polański.
Beata: He produced only one Polish feature-length film, "Knife in the Water," and very soon after that he left for the West, where he's best known for movies such as "Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby," and his recently directed "The Ghost Writer."
Nick: In 2002, he won an Academy Award for Best Director for his movie "The Pianist."
Beata: Poland's movie industry does not limit itself to these three movie directors. Also worth mentioning are Agnieszka Holland and Krzysztof Zanussi.
Nick: Recently, from what I've seen at least, I've noticed that Polish cinema more and more mirrors Western trends.
Beata: Yes, that's true. We have quite a lot of shallow romantic comedies and action films. We're still waiting for great movie directors of the quality of those seen in the past.
Nick: What about television? Would you say that it's also affected by Western trends?
Beata: Absolutely. Game shows like "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" or "Family Feud," as well as television series, such as "CSI Miami" and "House," are among the most-watched programs on Polish television.
Nick: But I'm sure you have to have some shows that would show something more tangible for an average Pole, something resembling their lives in Poland.
Beata: I guess we could say that the series "Thirty-nine and a half" would be one of them. The main character is approaching the age of forty and is somewhat fighting through his midlife crises.
Nick: What about Polish game shows? Do you have a personal favorite?
Beata: Actually, I do. It's called "Kocham cię Polsko!" which translates to "I love you, Poland." You have celebrities answering questions about Poland, its history, and its society. You can really learn a lot from this show. It's definitely my favorite.
Nick: So that's a little bit of Polish pop culture as of this date in history.
Beata: Please join us next time for more information on Poland and Polish at PolishPod101.com!