Directed by Marek Piwowski

Rejs/A Trip Down the River is a film which bucked the accepted norms. The whole action takes place on the  Dzierżyński, a little ship cruising from Gdańsk to Warsaw, and is wholly based on conversations between the trippers and their disquisitions.

It would be difficult to summarise the plot in the film which breaks with smooth narration, which is interlaced with jokes, absurd situations, and improvisations by the actors, who are accompanied by a  “dream team”  of non-professional actors.  Under this seemingly unattractive appearance, there is a whole volcano of implied meanings, bitter mockery, and brutal observations of the social and political structure of Poland and the life of the Polish people at the time. The film is ripe with intelligent irony.  The film is not only based on perfect dialogues, but also uses effective pauses to its advantage.  The entire script is a mockery of the official language in force at the time, the communist and bureaucratic  “newspeak”.

The shooting of the film started in November 1969. Marek Piwowski, who directed the film, was just beginning his film career.

Jan Himilsbach was one of the  “faces”  introduced to Polish cinema, thanks to  Rejs/A Trip Down the River.  The film by Piwowski was his screen début and marked the beginning of his timeless presence in the firmament of Polish cinema.

In the film, non-professional actors are accompanied by professional players, who already had a lot of cabaret experience.  It was Stanisław Tym from the STS Students’ Theatre, Jerzy Dobrowolski, instigator of the first post-War cabarets in Poland, and Zdzisław Maklakiewicz, for whom the film was a gateway to fame.  It was during the shooting of  Rejs  that Maklakiewicz and Himilsbach became friends, this way creating one of the most-distinctive acting duos in Polish cinema, for many a long year.

A Trip Down the Vistula River

  • The opening scene in the film was shot at the contemporary Philadelphia Boulevard in Toruń, in the vicinity of Żeglarska Gate, situated at the very end of ul. Żeglarska.
  • The beach by the river shown in the first scene of  Rejs  is the Vistula River bank in Toruń, today occupied by beautiful municipal boulevards.
  • The film harbour for little cruise ships is located virtually in the same place as today.
  • The film frequently shows a panorama of Toruń seen from the banks of the Vistula River.


  • At the Philadelpia Boulevard in Toruń, there are boards with stills from the film shot by Feridun Erol (a sailor in the film), a mural with quotations from the film, and  Old Katarzynka , i.e. the boat seen in the first scenes of the film, all of which are meant to commemorate the shooting of the film in Toruń.
  • The biggest casting was also carried out in Toruń, with nearly 10,000 people showing up for auditions.  Among others, the most-important criterion to qualify was “ the ability to do something interesting or something different”  – at least that was what the filmmakers were looking for.
  • The film director allowed for a certain degree of improvising by actors, in terms of dialogues.
  • Piwowski also recruited  “actors”  from among passers-by and regular bar flies frequenting the worst dives he could find in the city.  Acting abilities were somewhat less important, as the film director was looking for distinctive traits of character, or bizarre personalities with expressive faces.
  • Initially, the role of the cultural and educational instructor (“kaowiec”) was designated for Bogumił Kobiela, but he was unfortunately killed in a car accident in July 1969.
  • When shooting  Rejs , it was Zdzisław Maklakiewicz’s idea to use the giant sunglasses he wears in the film.
  • In its majority, the cast in the film was basic amateurs selected during castings.
    Only those without any skills could hope for employment – when it turned out that a particular person could sing, recite, or dance, they would be disqualified on the spot!
  • The film hit the cinemas in October 1970, but only two copies were distributed.
  • The film was also shot on location in the Zegrze Reservoir, among others.
    This is the powder magazine built in Zegrzyń in 1907, and a holiday centre owned by the Polish Press Agency, used as the background for the conversation between Mamoń and Sidorowski about the conditon of Polish cinema.

Information on the film

Rejs / A Trip Down the River

Poland 1970, 65′

Directed by: Marek Piwowski

Screenplay: Janusz Głowacki, Marek Piwowski, Jerzy Karaszkiewicz, and Andrzej Barszczyński

Cinematography: Marek Nowicki

Music: Wojciech Kilar

Produced by: Zespół Filmowy Tor

Cast: Stanisław Tym, Zdzisław Maklakiewicz, Jan Himilsbach, Wanda Stanisławska – Lothe, Irena Iżykowska, Jolanta Lothe, Jerzy Dobrowolski, Andrzej Dobosz, Ryszard Pietruski, Jerzy Karaszkiewicz, and others.

Selected Awards

The Samovar Award of Cinema Enthusiasts given by the Film Discussion Club in Świebodzin; 1st place in the poll by the  Polityka  weekly magazine for the end of the Century –  “The most-interesting Polish films of the 20th Century.