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"Pan Tadeusz" at Ridge Cinema on April 27 

Polish Premiere

If you think the hype surrounding the opening of "Star Wars: Episode I" was out of control last year, it was a mere blip when compared to the mania that surrounded the premiere of "Pan Tadeusz" in Poland last October. Unlike "Episode I," which was criticized by critics and fans alike, however, "Pan Tadeusz" has received nothing but the highest praise from Polish audiences.

On Thursday, April 27, Richmonders will have a rare chance to see this film, which is based on the 19th-century narrative poem of the same title by Adam Mickiewicz. Considered Poland's greatest poet, Mickiewicz wrote the poem while living in exile in Paris. Today, "Pan Tadeusz" is considered the Polish national epic, a poem that is read by nearly ever Polish citizen.

Directed by Andrzej Wajda, "Pan Tadeusz" is a two-hour costume drama set in 19th-century Lithuania. The story line involves romance, aristocratic feuds, mind-boggling secrets, feasts, hunts, balls and battles, all woven around the poem's central theme: the Poles' hopes of liberation from Russia. All the dialogue in the film consists of rhyming couplets.

Director Wajda was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during the Oscars. Wajda, 74, who has been making films in Poland for nearly five decades, is the first Eastern European director to be honored with this award.

"Pan Tadeusz" will be shown at 7 p.m. at Ridge Cinema, 1501 E. Ridge Road. It will be shown in Polish with English subtitles. The screening is sponsored by the Polish American Society of Virginia. Tickets are $15. To order tickets, call 346-4850.

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