Expired December 7, 2023 9:00 PM
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A Bear Named Wojtek tells the true journey of an orphaned Syrian brown bear who was adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II, becoming a beacon of hope and an emblem of their fate.

A half-hour animated film, this is essentially a love story for one’s homeland – an important subject in times of refugees, nationalism and xenophobia. It relates the experience of the Polish people during World War II through the true story of Wojtek and his friend Piotr Prendys, a member of the 22nd Artillery Corps of the 2nd Polish Army.

The story begins with a platoon of Polish soldiers, exiled in the Persian Desert, trading rations for a small orphaned Syrian bear cub that Piotr names Wojtek – ‘the happy warrior’. To Piotr, the bear comes to represent his lost homeland, needing protection and care to become strong and independent again. To Wojtek, Piotr and the soldiers become his only family.

Piotr and Wojtek’s epic journey is explored through the semi-mythical tales of Wojtek’s personality; how he become an enlisted soldier of the Polish Army and the famous image of Wojtek carrying munitions at the Battle of Monte Cassino; ultimately, he represents the soldier’s hope for independence.

Tragically, the realpolitik of the War’s outcome force Piotr and Wojtek to become refugees in Scotland. Piotr’s experience echoes that of many Polish people, who would become the biggest losers of the War as their land is bargained off to the Soviet Union. Despite feeling abandoned and betrayed, the Polish fortitude continues today via Wojtek: still a celebrated legend – and symbol of hope.

The film ends with Wojtek confined in the Edinburgh Zoo, visited by his Polish friends. While they do not have the freedom they once did, the soldiers salute – brothers until the end.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    28 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United Kingdom
  • Genre
  • Director
    Iain Gardner
  • Screenwriter
    Wojciech Lepianka
  • Cast
    Shauna Macdonald, Bill Paterson, Michael Golab