Ogniem i mieczem

Directed by Jerzy Hoffman

Ogniem i mieczem/With Fire and Sword is a Polish blockbuster, which at the time was the biggest and most-expensive film production in the entire history of Polish cinema, today being the fifth-most-expensive Polish film in history.  The film by Jerzy Hoffman is a monumental work – it is a three-hour epic story based on the first part of the Trilogy by Henryk Sienkiewicz.

The two previous films by Hoffman, namely Pan Wołodyjowski/Colonel Wolodyjowski from 1969, and Potop/The Deluge from 1974, the latter of which was nominated for Academy Awards, raised the standard very high. For the third time in a row, the film Director proved that it is possible to combine romantic themes with battle scenes, in a masterly fashion, showing the fates of the colourful characters created by Henryk Sienkiewicz against the background of the complex history of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 17th Century.

The film featured a whole galaxy of the best Polish and Ukrainian actors, and Dumka na dwa serca (Dumka on two hearts), a song from the film performed by Mietek Szcześniak and Edyta Górniak, became a great hit. The film featured performances by  actors Michał Żebrowski as Skrzetuski; Izabella Scorupco, known for her role in GoldenEye as Helena; Wiktor Zborowski as Longinus Podbipięta; Zbigniew Zamachowski as Michał Wołodyjowski; Aleksandr Domogarov as Bohun; and Bohdan Stupka as Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Naturally, the film would be incomplete without Daniel Olbrychski, who played Tugai Bey, a chief of the Crimean Tatars. In the previous films directed by Jerzy Hoffman, he gave his most-memorable performances, as Kmicic in The Deluge and Azja in Colonel Wolodyjowski”.

The Beautiful Biskupin

The filmmakers used many locations scattered all around Poland.  For example, the famous Biskupin archaeological open-air museum (in Kujawsko-Pomorskie) became the Zaporozhian Sich, in other words the “heart” of the Cossacks polity.


  • The first attempt at filming Ogniem i mieczem/With Fire and Sword was in 1989, but it was a failure for many different reasons.
  • A couple of years later, Jerzy Hoffman started a foundation, which began collecting money for the film, in 1992.
  • The filming started on 13th October 1997, within the premises of the Museum of the Mazovian Countryside, at the open-air museum in Sierpc, and lasted 118 shooting days.
  • After an on-site visit, the film Director decided to abandon the original idea of making the major part of the film in outdoor locations in Ukraine.
  • Machine Shop, a renowned company with extensive experience in making special effects (for example, they were responsible for special effects in Braveheart and Terminator 2”), was engaged to prepare special effects in the film (e.g. the death of Longinus Podbipięta pierced with arrows).
  • The film’s budget was PLN 24 mln.
  • One of the reasons for filming the Trilogy from the end was the fact that Jerzy Hoffman read the three parts of the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz in that very order.
  • Among others, the following locations were adapted for the purposes of the film: the open-air museum in Zubrzyca Górna in the region of Orava; the Castle and Chapel of the Holy Trinity in Lublin; the castle in Pieskowa Skała; Fort Sanguszki in Warsaw; the Kraków Gate in Ojców; and the granary in Wilanów. The film was also shot in the quarries and Skałki Twardowskiego (Twardowski Rocks) in Kraków, in Młociny near Warsaw, in Szumin near Łąck, at the training ground in Zielonka, at the reservoir by the Ropa River near Szymbark, in Biedrusko near Poznań, and in the open-air museum in Sierpc – it “played” the estate in Rozłogi.
  • In total, 130 kilometres of film was used.

Information on the film

Ogniem i mieczem / With Fire and Sword

Poland 1999, 175′

Directed by: Jerzy Hoffman

Screenplay: Jerzy Hoffman, Andrzej Krakowski

Cinematography: Grzegorz Kędzierski

Music: Krzesimir Dębski

Producer: Jerzy R. Michaluk, Jerzy Hoffman

Produced by: Zodiak Jerzy Hoffman Film Production Sp.z.o.o.

Cast: Michał Żebrowski, Aleksandr Domogarov, Izabella Scorupco, Bohdan Stupka, Krzysztof Kowalewski, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Andrzej Seweryn, Wiktor Zborowski, Wojciech Malajkat, Ewa Wiśniewska, Maciej Kozłowski, Marek Kondrat, Rusłana Pysanka, Daniel Olbrychski, Leszek Teleszyński, Jerzy Bończak, Andrzej Kopiczyński, Gustaw Holoubek, Adam Ferency, and others.

Selected Awards

The Gdynia Film Festival – the Jury Award, for production design, & editing; the Award of the President of TVP Polish Television; the Polish Film Festival in America – the Golden Teeth Award; the Golden Ticket awarded by the Polish Cinemas Association; the Polish Film Awards: Eagles – the Eagle Award in the Best Producer category, and Best Supporting Female Character; the TP SA Music and Film Festival in Warsaw – the Philip Award; the Golden Knight International Film Forum in Moscow – an award for directing; the Golden Duck Award for the 50th anniversary of the song Dumka na dwa serca and others.