1409 – afera na zamku Bartenstein

Directed by Rafał Buks, Paweł Czarzasty

Kompania M3, a satirical collective from Toruń, and crème de la crème of Polish actors (including, Jan Machulski, Joanna Brodzik, Marcin Dorociński, and Borys Szyc), made an independent comedy about the Teutonic Order.
“1409 – afera na zamku Bartenstein” is the first Polish film to defy the patterns typical for the prose of Henryk Sienkiewicz.

The knights of the military order from Bartenstein were “extremely unique” Teutonic Knights.  The garrison of the castle is composed of losers, who were sent there to ensure that the Teutonic Order was not distracted from doing its regular business.

One day, the knights at Bartenstein are scared out of their wits by the news that the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order has announced a series of inspections to verify their successes in their fight against the heathens – the Prussian tribes.
As could be expected, the “heroic” knights have no achievements in this field, so they decide to ally with their enemies. According to their agreement, the Prussians give consent to be imprisoned in the castle dungeons for the duration of the inspection, so the Grand Master can leave the knights in peace.

The Teutonic History in Toruń

The film crew paid a visit to many places in Toruń. They filmed in the following locations

  • the ruins of the Teutonic castle on ul. Przedzamcze in the Old Town, where the film scribe Sznajder and the Commander had their chambers.
    The courtyard and the preserved elements of the castle gallery were also used in a number of scenes.
  • The castle dungeons from the Middle Ages were used to film the scenes involving  imprisoning Prussian “partisans,” inspecting the dungeons by Teutonic knights, and filming inside the torture chamber.
  • The vestibule of the St. James Gothic Church in the New-Town Market Square appeared in the scene of discovering “the curse of the shaggy hand.”
  • The area of the island of Kępa Bazarowa situated opposite to the Old Town was adapted to create the camp of Prussian “partisans” commanded by the cruel Prince Witek.
  • All the scenes taking place in the village of Polish craftsmen located by the castle were filmed in the open-air Ethnographic Museum in Toruń.


  • The script was an original creation of the satirists from Kompania M3 from Toruń, who had their own programmes on Radio Trójka and on Radiostacja, an independent radio station from Warsaw. The script was a joint effort by the M3 members Jarek i Paweł Jaworscy, Marcin Czyżniewski, Michał Naleśniak, and Krzysztof Rybka, as well as Olaf Młyński from the Filmforum.pl website.
  • A number of scenes were also filmed in the castle in Golub-Dobrzyń, i.e. the arrival of the Grand Master and his retinue, and the closing scene in the film, some in the forest in Radzymin near Warsaw – the journey of the Grand Master and his retinue, and the escape of Otto and Jagiętka, and some in Wilanów (Warsaw) – the scenes in which Sznajder is dreaming.
  • Initially, the film was to be a sitcom entitled Bartenstein 12-86.
  • The idea of making the film, which would “demythologise” the history of the Teutonic Order, as a comedy, was born in the minds of Jarosław and Paweł Jaworscy, and Ramigiusz Zawadzki.
  • All the actors playing in “1409” agreed to perform pro bono.
  • The shooting of the film started in August 2001 and ended four years later, in 2005.
  • The costumes worn by the actors in the film were exact replicas of the clothes worn in the State of the Teutonic Order and Poland, in the Middle Ages.  All the costumes were crafted by hand, under the supervision of costume designer Krzysztof Rybka from Kompania M3, based on academic documents.
  • One of the chambers in the so-called “dansker” in the Teutonic Castle in Toruń was “played” by three different rooms in the film, namely the chamber of the Commander, the chamber of Sznajder, and the drawing chamber of the Commander.
  • The film had its première at the Gdynia Film Festival.

Information on the film

1409 – afera na zamku Bartenstein  / 1409 – the Bartenstein Castle scandal

Poland 2005, 75′

Directed by: Rafał Buks and Paweł Czarzasty

Screenplay: Kompania M3 (Jarosław Jaworski, Paweł Jaworski, Marcin Czyżniewski, Michał Naleśniak, and Krzysztof Rybka) and Olaf Młyński

Cinematography: Jacek Szymczak

Music: Shannon

Produced by: Kompania M3, SPI Polska, XFX, Filmforum.pl

Cast: Joanna Brodzik, Jerzy Bończak, Jan Machulski, Andrzej Nejman, Andrzej Szopa, Borys Szyc, Bartłomiej Świderski, Jan Wieczorkowski, Marek Włodarczyk, Marcin Dorociński, and others.

Animation: Grupa Smacznego

Narrator: Jan Suzin

Selected Awards 

The Gdynia Film Festival – nomination in the Independent Film Competition.