Forgotten Love (Znachor) is a beautiful film full of hope and love. It’s set in rural Poland at a time when horses and buggies were more common than cars, telephones were rare, and finding what you lost was difficult.
Forgotten Love begins in the city. Rafal Wilczur (Leszek Lichota) performs pretend surgery on his beloved daughter’s doll. They have a sweet relationship. He’s a respected surgeon known for his skill.
The doctor’s relationship with his wife is less good. In fact, she leaves him for another man and takes the little girl with her. One of the doctor’s rivals for the job of chief surgeon goes with him for a night of drinking. The doctor is mugged. There’s a serious head injury. His friend leaves him for dead. He doesn’t even try to help.
Fast forward 15 years. A man going by the name Antoni Kosiba wanders Poland looking for something, but he can’t remember what it is. He’s our doctor. He survived the mugging but has no memory of his name, his family, or his status in the world. He’s assumed dead by everyone who knew him before.
Antoni can’t stop himself from helping people who are hurt. The original title in Polish, Znachor, means “quack.” Practicing medicine without a license was considered quackery and could land you in jail. Antoni can’t stand to see people suffer if he knows how to help them. He helps them in spite of the danger to himself. He remembers how to be a doctor, but he doesn’t know he’s a doctor.
By now the grown up Marysia Wilczur (Maria Kowalska) has been introduced. (That’s her photo up at the top.) She’s lost her mother and her stepfather and is traveling in a wagon loaded with a piano. She tries to sell the piano to the Jewish owner of a pub. She ends up staying on there to play the piano and work as a waitress. She wants to save enough money to go to college and become a doctor.
Antoni is headed for the same village from another direction. He stops to help Zoska (Anna Szymanczyk). Zoska owns a flour mill and offers Antoni a job. She likes Antoni and would like to establish a relationship with him. He’s slow to respond but eventually does.
Into the pub with his motorcyle and his money comes rich Count Leszek Czynski (Ignacy Liss). He promptly falls in love with the waitress. She’s slow to respond. Their class differences make a relationship impossible. He wears her down.
Father and daughter are now in the same village but don’t realize who they are. Two love stories are slowly developing. The film is prepped and ready for something to change so the lost family can be reunited and the new loves can blossom.
Many months of problems and setbacks hinder the reunion we’re waiting for. It’s a beautifully told story with interesting events that lead to a final heartwarming resolution.
The film is based on a 1937 novel by Tadeusz Dolega-Mostowicz. This 2023 version is the third film based on the book. Some storytelling sticks around because it’s full of universal truth and touches the heart. This is one of those stories.
I thought everything about this film was excellent. It told a wonderful story, the costumes and settings were well chosen, the characters had depth and courage. It’s on Netflix and well worth the watch.