|Directed by||Juliusz Machulski|
|Produced by||Juliusz Machulski|
|Written by||Juliusz Machulski, Jolanta Hartwig, Pavel Hajný|
|Starring||Jerzy Stuhr, Olgierd Łukaszewicz, Beata Tyszkiewicz|
|Music by||Henryk Kuźniak|
|Edited by||Miroslawa Garlicka|
In August 9, 1991, Maksymilian "Max" Paradys (Jerzy Stuhr), trying to find an adventure, and Albert Starski (Olgierd Łukaszewicz), biologist, volunteer themselves for the first human hibernation experiment, created by professor Wiktor Kuppelweiser, a Nobel Prize laureate, who previously successfully hibernated a chimpanzee for half a year. Experiment is considered as an epochal event and is broadcast by television. Process of the hibernation is scheduled for 3 years.
Instead of being awakened 3 years later as planned, they wake up in the year 2044, in a post-nuclear world, both are 86 years old. When they wake up, they believe at first that they are in a clinic following their hibernation. They are being taken care of by women, which they enjoy at the beginning, especially Max, who becomes attracted to Lamia Reno. However they gradually realize that everything going on around them is odd. After explicitly asking to meet professor Kuppelweiser, they are informed by Lamia and Dr. Berna that he's dead as there was a war long ago, that all males have long been extinct, and that it is actually March 8th, 2044 (Women's Day). Max and Albert think that these must be hallucinations as a side-effect of hibernation and try to leave the room, but are electrocuted by a closed door. The men are under constant surveillance after this. Lamia informs them their society reproduces without males through parthenogenesis. During a briefing, Max kisses Lamia, for which she knocks him down and threatens both men with euthanasia if there is another attempt at sexual assault. However, the kiss causes Lamia's drug-inhibited passions to resurface, making her both confused and fascinated. Due to her internal feelings she wants to find the oldest living woman to find out anything about the men before the war. She found 74-year old Julia Novack, who has good memories with her fiancée and tells that old world with two sexes should be restored. She also guesses that Lamia fell in love with one of man.
After several days, Max and Albert are permitted to go out to meet with Her Excellency, the supreme ruler of women. Waiting for her in the bio-sanctuary, they spot a tree with two tiny apples and eat them, being disgusted by synthetic food. At the meeting they ask what womankind did to mankind. The women reply it is not their fault, but Kuppelweiser's, who during the war invented an agent - the so-called M bomb - which was supposed to temporarily paralyze male genes, but due to an oversight wiped out male genes permanently. Max offers a proposal: he and Albert will serve as reproducers to restore the male population. But the women do not wish the old order to come back; Her Excellency points at the "sacred apple tree" and says it was planted by Arch Mother, and from which, when once in paradise, a male took an apple and seduced a woman by it, for which act all lost paradise forever. After noticing the missing sacred apples, Her Excellency becomes desperate and enraged and demands the men be taken back to their previous confinement and not be released anywhere.
Once again confined, the men grow distressed and plan to escape by damaging the electric power grid. They succeed but are caught during a course organized by the special section how to act with men if they would ever return to the world, and locked up again. The women provide them with their last chance: to submit themselves for "naturalization" - undergoing a sex reassignment surgery. When they refuse, a ceiling above the room opens, showing a huge assembly of women, which has to determine their fate. Albert and Max now face a humiliating trial while the women blame males for oppression, virtually all evil and vices, and praise their new society. They engage in historical revisionism in claiming that the greatest scientists - such as Copernicus, Einstein or Pincus (one of the pioneers of parthenogenesis) - were, in fact, women. When Max and Albert are taken away, the assembly is to choose between forced 'naturalization' (proposed by group "Archeo") and 'liquidation' (proposed by group "Genetix") of men. The first option is passed by a margin of only one vote. In the meantime, the men escape again. Wandering through what Albert calls "a nightmarish skyscraper", they encounter other women, who have known no man, and therefore see Max and Albert as their "sisters", provoking humorous encounters. After that the men discover a boot lying on the floor, with a bottle of cheap wine (in real popular in Poland in late 20th century) and newspaper from 1993 with real history of the world from begin of the world war inside. Next they have to run away and discover the nest of "decadency" - one of the anarchist, "hippie" women's groups, who do not wish to be part of the oppressive regime, play loud music, and some engage in lesbian relations. Max and Albert are caught as supposed government spies by them. In the meantime, the pursuing regime forces attack, and subsequent chaos provides the men with an opportunity to escape. During escape, they found After escaping, the men stumble upon Lamia, who provides them with a way to see the outside - a periscope - and reveals that they live deep underground in expanded old mines. The periscope shows a dark, rocky landscape above ground, and sensors indicate high levels of "Kuppelweiser radiation", a side effect of M bomb. However it turns out that Lamia's plan was a plot to catch the men and force them into surgery as Lamia was loyal for her group "Archeo". Lamia is congratulated by Tekla and Emma Dax (members of "Genetix") for her ingenious plan, but they also inform her that their section will now be in charge of the males, which devastates Lamia.
In the hands of Tekla, the fate of the males is to be different. Their organs will be extracted for transplantation, and the remains will be tested for possible use of dead bodies for consumption due to a growing protein shortage. The chief surgeon, Dr Yanda, an old lady, is revealed to be Max's daughter, who now delights in taking revenge for his abandonment of his wife and child in favor of hibernation for his own profit. Lamia sabotages the surgery and helps the men escape as revenge for Tekla and Dax taking the men and her research. Shortly after escape Albert falls asleep in the lift and is dreaming that he's in 1994, when process of hibernation has successfully finished. In the periscope room Lamia threatens the guards by telling them that she will blast the whole block if they do not give her the code activating a capsule reaching the surface, while Max and Albert find and change into protective suits. The guards claim that only Her Excellency knows the password required; enraged, Max shouts "kurwa mać!" (a common strong Polish swear), and to the surprise of all present, the capsule is activated. Lamia changes into another protective suit and joins the men. While they explore the surface, Max suddenly bumps against an invisible barrier and is unable to go further. He takes a knife and cuts the fabric of the barrier, and a dazzling light appears. They all go through the hole and see a beach, with the periscope area being surrounded by a small circular structure. They then travel to a forest, but the suits are running out of oxygen. Suddenly Max shouts with joy and throws away his suit, seeing a flying stork and declares "if it can live, it means we can live too". After removing the suits, they find a cosy villa full of fresh food. While eating in the garden, they are found by Emma, who has been following them and, armed with a harpoon, demands their surrender, but she faints due to lack of oxygen. When she regains consciousness, Emma begins to fight with Albert; during their tussle, they accidentally turn on a TV and see an official government version of the events, including Lamia and Emma considered to death and an interview with "naturalised" Max and Albert, who claim to be feeling very well and thankful. Emma is shocked, unable to understand such lies and all the strange environment "with too much air". Max goes with Lamia to a bedroom and tries to explain her what mating is, while Albert tries his luck with Emma.
Later, while resting in the living room, Max and Albert suddenly hear the familiar, distressing sound of an arriving underground lift and hide. It is 'Her Excellency' who leaves the lift (covered in a locker) to feed 'her' caged birds. When 'she' opens a wardrobe, 'she' is attacked by Max, who has hidden in it. During the ensuing fight, 'her' breasts and hair are stripped, revealing that 'she' is a male in disguise, to 'her' panic and Max's disgust and rage. Max also removes an electronic necklace, which was converting 'Her Excellency's voice into one that sounds like a woman's. 'Her Excellency' tells the men his life story - just after the war, when the League of Women took power, he was 4 years old; the few boys remaining were naturalised into 'girls', but he was hidden by his mother. Growing up in a female disguise, he joined the League and finally was appointed as 'Her Excellency'. He was too afraid of the women to form a relationship with any and, revealing himself, to try to return to the old order. The government has been exaggerating the radiation level in order to keep the inhabitants underground, making them easier to control; likewise, the inhabitants are medicated to remove sexual desire. The three make a deal: Max and Albert will not compromise 'Her' Excellency's true identity, but they can stay in his home with Lamia and Emma. Later, Max and Albert, disguised as laboratory workers, put male gametes into the incubation center. Flashing forward to several months later, a nurse, routinely wrapping newborns in blankets, is horrified to see a penis.
The film contains numerous subtle allusions to the realities of the communist-bloc society, particularly to that of the People's Republic of Poland just before the fall of communism, perhaps in the anticipation of the major events to come; the fall of communism and the rise of political liberty. When Max and Albert escape, they jump through the wall, which then starts to shake (often associated with later Lech Wałęsa's jumping over the wall of the Gdańsk shipyard, and also with the subsequent fall of the Berlin wall). The secret meeting of the Women League apparatchiks and their lies to the women parallels the communist government of Poland. This dimension of the movie appears to typically escape the viewer more removed from the context. Some sections of this kind were left out from the version shown in Polish theaters by the government censors, but many passed through.
In a contemporary review, Variety stated that the film was "not up to the standards of those quality Polish pics of the late 1970s [...] nonetheless the best pic to emerge form the Warsaw studios over the past season."
The film has been very popular in Poland. It was proclaimed to be the best Polish film of the last 30 years in a 2005 joint poll by readers of three popular film magazines. However, this assessment by the audience was considered to be a surprise as it disagreed with the historical rankings of Polish movies by the professional film critics. It received the Złota Kaczka award for the best Polish movie of 1984. The movie was also fairly popular in Hungary when shown a couple of years later.
- Olgierd Łukaszewicz as Albert Starski
- Jerzy Stuhr as Maximilian 'Max' Paradys
- Bożena Stryjkówna as Lamia Reno
- Bogusława Pawelec as Emma Dax
- Hanna Stankówna as dr Tekla
- Beata Tyszkiewicz as dr Berna
- Ryszarda Hanin as dr Jadwiga Yanda
- Barbara Ludwiżanka as Julia Novack
- Mirosława Marcheluk as Secretary
- Hanna Mikuć as Linda
- Elżbieta Zającówna as Zająconna
- Dorota Stalińska as TV Reporter (1991)
- Ewa Szykulska as Instructor
- Janusz Michałowski as Professor Wiktor Kuppelweiser
- Wiesław Michnikowski as Her Excellency
- A.D. 2044, a video game based on the film
- Idiocracy, an American film about hibernees who wake up 500 years in the future
- Y: The Last Man
- Assemblywomen, ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes describing a society ruled entirely by women
- The Gate to Women's Country, a novel about a city-state of women whom a male garrison plots to take over and subjugate
- The Female Man, a multiple universe-travelling novel including world where men have died out in a plague.
- Willis 1985, p. 452: "Review is from August 1, 1984"
- "The Best Polish Film of the Last 30 Years" (results of the poll by "Cinema", "Esensja" and "Stopklatka.pl") (in Polish)"
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