Filming the Main Market Square

Streets and squares

Europe’s largest mediaeval square is a perfect location for shooting various films. It offers a wide range of options as it can be the backdrop for both grand crowd scenes in historical films, as in Wajda’s Katyń, and for intimate encounters of the film’s protagonists.

Let’s move into the shadow of the Cloth Hall standing in the centre of the square. This is where the key moments of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Double Life of Veronique take place, when the two twin heroines see each other from a distance during a student demonstration in the late 1980s. Very close to here, Andrzej Wajda shot a scene for his Katyń in which citizens learn from the loudhailers deployed in the Square of the discovery of the mass graves of Polish soldiers in the Katyń Forest.

However, of all the features of the Main Market Square, the location that most frequently makes its way into films is St Mary’s Church, which provided the setting for the opening scenes of The Wedding by Andrzej Wajda, amongst other films. In the 1960s, it was the set for Yellow Slippers, a costume drama film based on Antonina Domańska’s novel for teenagers, very popular at the time, about a boy who dreamt about practising in the studio of Master Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss).

Other favourite haunts of the filmmakers are the numerous café gardens around the Main Market Square and… above it. This is precisely where prosecutor Szacka from Entanglement (dir. by Jacek Bromski) talks to, among others, the victim’s wife, while the roof of a nearby townhouse accompanies her conversation with police officer Smolar.

The Main Market Square is famous for yet another symbol that has also “set the scene” in films: Kraków’s horse-drawn carriages. The two frustrated protagonists of List of Lovers, the cinematic début of Jerzy Stuhr, for example resort to a trip in one of these across the Market Square and through the Old City.

 

 

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