What were once bridges are now piles of rumble stacked high in the Vistula. Smoke and smolder litter a city that once was. This is Warsaw in the spring of 1945, just after World War II, after it was totaled by the Nazis.
These visuals are vividly reconstructed in the 3D film ‘City of Ruins’ (Miasto Ruin) that historians and computer graphics experts showed for the first time in Warsaw on July 28 at the Warsaw Uprising Museum (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego.) The goal of the film is to bringing home to a young generation the scope of the wartime devastation of Poland’s capital.
Although only 5 minutes long, the project took 40 specialists two years to complete. It consists of a 3D aerial view sequence; a simulation flight of a British Liberator bomber over the city right after the war in 1945.
When speaking with American Press, Michal Gryn, of Warsaw based Platige Image (the studio that created the film) said the team was surprised by the large amount of documentary material they had to seep through.
“It was a unique project to build a 3D model of authentic city ruins and make five minutes of film from it,” Gryn said. “I don’t think that anyone in the world has done this.”
His team took a helicopter flight over contemporary Warsaw to film base material. They then relied on over 2,000 historic pictures, films and paintings (some from private archives) to fill in the blanks and recreate Warsaw as it appeared right after the war.
The result is a computer simulation that shows collapsed bridges along the Vistula River, whole districts of roofless, burned-out houses and the Warsaw Ghetto as a flat sea of rubble. A solemn musical score enhances the sense of death and menace. Here is a sneak peak at the trailer:
The film ends with an inscription that says that before the war some 1.3 million people lived in Warsaw, some 900,000 at the start of the uprising and just 1,000 amid the ruins in 1945.
Since then the city has been fully rebuilt, including a meticulous reconstruction of the Gothic and Renaissance Old Town. Today it is a bustling city of some 1.7 million.
The uprising began on Aug. 1, 1944, and the release of the film has been timed to mark the 66th anniversary. The film is now screening at the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
Make sure to check it out when you’re in Warsaw. The museum is breathtaking. And it’s proven to be a big hit with visitors. Last year it had some 500,000 people walk through its doors. It’s definitely worth a visit. UT