What first sparked your interest in Jacob Boehme?

I wanted to make my first documentary about my home town Zgorzelec. As a beginner with limited financial assets I was convinced that it would be much easier to make a film touching on a subject connected to the region I live. At that time, as a student of cultural studies, I was attending history of philosophy classes. The teacher explained complicated philosophical issues in such an engaging way that I realized that philosophy doesn’t have to be boring. This inspired me to search for some more information about a philosopher from my home town, who is generally considered as the most important and influential figure of Zogrzelec. Having the general idea in hand, I started filming the first interviews.

 

How has the public responded to the film?

The official premiere took place in Zgorzelec, the home town of Jacob Boehme. Response of the public was beyond my expectations. Everyone in Zgorzelec has heard about Jacob Boehme but understanding his philosophy was quite a challenge. The film allowed them to get basic knowledge of his life and made his thoughts more plain and clear. Outside Zgorzelec Jacob Boehme is not very well known and quite often people hear of him for the first time watching the film. The documentary has been presented many times in academic societies all over the country and abroad. It is sometimes surprising even for experts. Once after a screening in Zgorzelec a former student of philosophy told me that she struggled through Boehme’s works many times, but she found them too difficult. She started understanding his thoughts just after seeing the film. This is the most common kind of feedback I receive after screenings.

 

What is Boehme's relevance for the 21st century?

 

Deciding to make this film I haven’t known much about Boehme’s output and his worldwide influence. Although several years have passed since its premiere, I am still learning new facts about Boehme’s life and thoughts. His legacy is relevant for the 21st century thorough philosophers and thinkers inspired by his ideas. Boehme is considered as the first German-speaking philosopher. This makes him one of the most important figures in the modern European philosophy. His independent and revealing thoughts touching on God and religion but at the same time being in opposition to the official standpoint of the protestant church in his era, made him very popular in the age of romanticism. He influenced the most important Polish literates such as Mickiewicz and Słowacki. His thoughts became widespread in Russian and German philosophy in 19th and 20th century and have been reflected in ideas of such significant philosophers as Hegel, Solovyov. This formed the basis for Boehme’s influence on presentday culture. Although Boehme is not a very popular philosopher, his works are still being translated, published and reprinted. So far in Poland only one complete book of Boehme has been translated and published. I hope it will change soon. I think that some of his ideas are timeless, for instance his idea of egoism as the main enemy of human being and of the world as a subject of the everlasting conflict.

 

Tell us a little about your film project.

 

When I started making the movie, I didn’t anticipate how difficult the task was. I did not have the funds for appropriate equipment or film crew. Fortunately, I met in Wrocław a few young, talented artists who have taken an interest in Boehme. Assembling the film crew, I have simultaneously tried to find experts on the subject. I managed to reach and encourage a few outstanding people to take part in the film, among others Józef Piórczyński, the author of a book about Jacob Boehme and Jerzy Prokopiuk, an expert on Western Esotericisim and translator of esoteric works into Polish. If I made the film today, many elements would probably be different. Perhaps I would reach more experts on the subject. I met many of them after I made the movie. However, I think that the film fulfills its role - it is a source of basic information about the philosopher's life, his thoughts and their subsequent influence. It is watched and appreciated by both laymen and experts on the subject. Younger and older. I am currently working on translations into other languages.

© 2019 Łukasz Chwałko

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