Documentary uses unpublished archival films to recreate extraordinary life of ‘Poland’s Indiana Jones’, explorer and filmmaker Tony Halik
The life and work of Tony Halik, a charismatic Polish adventurer and filmmaker who reached some of the most distant corners of the globe and shot with Queen Elizabeth II, Richard Nixon and Fidel Castro amongst others, is being remembered with an online screening of a documentary about his life.
Halik, who was born Mieczysław Sędzimir Antoni Halik in 1921 in Toruń was known for his indefatigable passion for travelling, his imagination and sense of humour and was a colourful public personality, known to many Poles for over 300 popular travel programmes which ran from the late 1970s on Polish television.
His work also included over 400 documentary films and 13 books.
The new documentary ‘Tony Halik’ produced by Marcin Borchardt reconstructs Halik’s remarkable and unique life story over half a century using archival materials, including hitherto unpublished films shot by Halik from his multitude of journeys around the globe.
The film has been nominated in the category of ‘Best Polish Film’ by Polish film reviewing platform ‘Pełna Sala’.
From his earlier years, Halik’s life was never far from adventure. As a 14 year old he already demonstrated the travel bug which would come to define his life when he set out on a raft from Płock hoping to sail downriver to Gdańsk, some 270km away.
He was later forcibly drafted into the Luftwaffe under the German occupation of Poland during World War II and served in France, but deserted in 1944 to join the French Resistance.
It was here that he met his first wife, with whom he moved to Argentina and began the travels which defined him.
He worked for a while as a reporter for NBC and travelled prolifically in South America. It was his documentary from his journey by car through Latin America to Alaska which earned him an army of Polish fans when it was screened on Polish TV in 1972. ‘180,000 km of Adventure’ was an instant hit.
Letters addressed to Halik flooded in to the Polish TV station and after the last episode was aired, demand from viewers to see it again meant that the programme was screened again several more times.
It was with his second wife, Elżbieta Dzikowska, who he met when she was sent from Poland to Mexico to interview him, that Halik returned to Poland and cemented himself as a household name as the pair traversed the globe, filmed their experiences and thrilled Polish viewers with their stories, embellished with Halik’s colourful storytelling and humour.
Their travels took them to the most remote corners of the world, including their discovery of the last capital of the Incas, Vilcabamba in Peru, which they reached by using maps used by the conquistadors and led them to determine the exact location of the last defence of the Incas.
Due to the remarkableness or his travels and Tony’s playful personality, his stories were sometimes filled with exaggeration and it is a well-documented difficulty to sometimes distinguish between fact and fiction and reality and imagination in his descriptions of what he encountered.
“The film aims to unravel the phenomenon of a traveller who due to his natural charisma, fantasy and passion, for many years, consistently created himself in his own stories. It is a history of cultivating his legend by others as well as the great secret hidden under the fabricated identity”, the film’s director writes on the film’s website.
The documentary can be viewed at POSK cinema on Thursday 21st January and can also be found on a number of online platforms.