Tuesday, October 26, 2021

‘Operation Hyacinth’ Review: Polish LGBT Persecution Drama Checks All The Correct Boxes

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The film focuses on the “pink files” or “Operation Hyacinth” that terrorized the LGBT community in Poland

Operation Hyacinth is a new Polish film on Netflix directed by Piotr Domalewski; It plays Tomasz Zietek and Hubert Milkowski in leading roles. The film lasts over 100 minutes, with picturesque scenes from Poland’s streets and extravagant parties. The film was recently released internationally on Netflix and is set in the 80s.

“Operation Hyacinth” draws its inspiration from the secret operation carried out in Poland under the communist regime. The aim was to create a nationwide database of all Polish homosexuals and those who have joined the LGBT community or are known to be queer. The operation lasted over 2 years (between 1985 and 87) and saw the persecution of over 11,000 people – “pink files” were created and used to blackmail and pressure men for their sexuality. Thousands of the community were arrested, interrogated and monitored. To date, most of the files have not been restored.


The film follows Robert, a Polish policeman whose father is a high-ranking officer in the “secret police”. While picking up a case and investigating a murder, it leads him to another thug who appears deeply rooted in Operation Hyacinth. Fascinated, Robert continues to pursue the murder even after higher authorities (including his own father) believe the case is closed, and draws closer to the gay community in Warsaw.

We are now invested in Robert’s personal and professional life. Not only does Robert show his wit in solving the case, but also the change in his character development as he becomes a better person while handling the case and after solving it.

Almost all of the above have a death that is brilliantly highlighted at the climax. The final part of the film in particular lifts the film up from something that is all just fun and games and will eventually leave you with unanswered questions.

An LGBT-centric film in Poland’s current political climate is very fresh indeed and sheds a very different light on the matter. Other than that, it’s a pretty bold statement, too. “Operation Hyacinth” creates a fictional story that is far more than a typical “Based on Real Events” movie would have been.

All in all, ‘Operation Hyacinth’ checks all the boxes for an ideal must-watch. From the direction to the plot, the acting and the camera work, everything together makes an extraordinary film. While the film moves at a rather slow pace, it eventually gains momentum in the second half and works to build up the tension further as the film progresses. The genre of the film is a crime thriller, but it could easily be a coming-of-age drama.

The main actor goes on a path of self-expression when he uncovered indications of a possible scandal. This slow transition in his character is a star spectacle, and the effect is multidimensional, which helps you see through the many levels of complexity that, over time, make Robert understand who he really is.

The movie definitely makes you want more (even a sequel!) Like all great movies usually do. Additionally, this movie gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the historical persecution that the LGBTQ community faced just to love who they wanted.

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