Operation Hyacinth is a Polish movie that was recently released internationally on Netflix. Set in the 80s, the film draws inspiration from the secret mass operation conducted under the communist regime in Poland. It aimed at creating a nationwide database of all Polish homosexuals and those that associated themselves with the LGBT community. The operation lasted for over 2 years and saw the persecution of over 11,000 individuals.
The film is directed by Piotr Domalewski and stars Tomasz Ziętek and Hubert Milkowski in the lead. The total run time is just over 100 minutes. It can be accessed on Netflix with an English dub as well as English subtitles.
The film follows Robert, a Polish cop whose father is a high-ranking official in the “Secret Police”. While he investigates a homicide, it leads him to another racket rooted deep within Operation Hyacinth. He continues to pursue the murder, even after the higher authorities deem the case closed and comes in closer contact with the homosexual community in Warsaw.
Netflix describes it as:
Not satisfied with the result of a murder investigation in Warsaw’s gay community, an officer in 1980s communist Poland resolves to uncover the truth.Via the Netflix Official site
– This Operation Hyacinth review does not contain any spoilers –
Making an LGBTQ+ centred film in the current political climate of Poland is brave, and not to mention, a bold statement. In the process of this, however, you get a film that isn’t anything less than a must-watch. Operation Hyacinth creates a fictional story that turns out to be much more powerful than a “Based on True Events” film would have been. Set in the 80s, when the Secret Police held much of the power in communist countries, the film focuses on the “pink files” or “Operation Hyacinth” that terrorized the LGBT community in Poland.
The film gets almost everything right. From the direction to the plot, to the acting and the cinematography, all of them work in tandem to make for a great film. The pace of the film is slow, but this works to further the tension as it progresses instead of just stretching it. The genre of the film is a crime thriller, but it could easily be a coming-of-age drama. The lead, Robert, undergoes a path of self-discovery even as he uncovers clues to a potential scandal. The effect is multidimensional, which helps you see through the multiple layers of complexity that make Robert understand who he truly is.
The resolution then isn’t just the key to solving the case but also how Robert changes and fits himself better after this. There’s a fatality to it all that especially comes through in the climax, and this is particularly what will elevate the film from something you enjoyed to something that will leave you thinking.
Final Verdict: Operation Hyacinth
Two words: Watch. It.
Operation Hyacinth is one of those foreign films you shouldn’t get scared of just because of the language barrier. While watching the dub isn’t exactly the best experience, using the subtitles is easy enough and so worth it at the end of it all. The film will leave you wanting more, as do all good films, sure, but more than that, the film will give you a chance to delve into the historical persecution the LGBT community has faced only for loving who they wanted to.
However, fair warning: The film does contain graphic visuals and nudity, so it should only be watched by an age-appropriate audience.
Operation Hyacinth is now streaming on Netflix.