Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest. Overview of the series

Duration of the whole series: 147’ 30″
Original format: 4:3 SD
Format after the revitalization: 16:9 HD

Screenplay and direction: Bożena Walencik, Jan Walencik
Polish version lector: Krystyna Czubówna
English version lector: Bengt Scotland

Production: Program 1 TVP S.A.
Lead time: 1993–1995
End of production: 1995  

A revitalized digital copy was made at the Documentation and Program Collections Center of TVP S.A. in 2014
Color correction: Barbara moRgan Konopka
Artistic care: Jan Walencik/ŻUBROWA 10
Sound development: Krzysztof Kasiński
Graphic development of subtitles: Tomasz Pecko
Scanning: Tomasz Kalisz
Technology supervision: Maciej Kowalik
Production manager: Tomasz Kalisz

Frames from the opening sequence of the series (QUOTES).

In the middle of The Old Continent, on the eastern borders of Poland and the western borderlands of Belarus, the heartbeat of the primeval forest beats. Uninterrupted for several thousand years. In the abundant, dim greenness the same backwoods are still crossed by the emperors of the Forest – European bison. As in the times of King Jagiełło, as in the times of Mendog. The only remnant of truly primeval forests that once covered the European lowlands – the Biosphere Reserve and Human Heritage – the eternal Białowieża Primeval Forest.

QUOTE. The opening sequence of the series Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest. Directed by Bożena Walencik, Jan Walencik. Source: TVP.

The nature series Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest is the original idea and work of Bożena and Jan Walencik and their team, produced by Program 1 of Polish Television. This is the first Polish television nature series, planned from the beginning as a series and so – as an autonomous series, not compiled from other films – realized and broadcast. The authors were acutely aware that the nature films made about the Białowieża Forest up to 1995 were either about the biology and history of its individual species, or had the character of a herbarium a kind of enumeration of the plants and animals living there. They wanted a completely fresh approach, an issue-based view. Hence came the original structure of the series: each part deals with a separate environmental problem, but related consistently to the previous and the next. So first, viewers are introduced to the complex environments of the Forest – places for millions of organisms to live. Later, they follow the complex chain of relationships between organisms. One by one: plants producing green matter, herbivores feeding on them, predators and parasites reducing animal organisms, and finally reducers decomposing organic matter. Finally, they explore the role of humans in the Forest. The filmmakers try to prove that the natural forest is a living network of relationships, forming a holistic, self-regulating system – the Primeval Forest.

The 5-part Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest takes the form of a passionate story and at the same time an engaging analysis of how the organism of the Forest works. The story is spun during the filming by on-screen presenters, i.e. the author-narrators themselves, and by a voiceover. In this way, the sequences of events become very clear and dynamic. The stories presented engage the viewer deeply in the action. By how consistently and attractively each second of the series is developed, it is clear how seriously and with emotion the authors treated their creative work. A specific climate and beauty is added to the series by very thoughtful and consistently shot cinematography and captivating music composed by Ireneusz Dreger.


The series took three years to complete. Documentation and script were created from November 8, 1992 to April 12, 1993. shooting lasted from April 21, 1993, intermittently until July 3, 1995, and picture editing, sound design and final work, from July 11 to November 31, 1995.

The premiere of Part I. The Big House (Living Wild) took place on November 30, 1995, on Channel 1 of the Polish Public Television. Immediately afterwards, on December 2, 1995, at a special promotional screening at the Żubr (Bison) cinema in Białowieża, all parts of Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest were shown to invited guests and Białowieża residents who came in great numbers.

In 1996, Polish Television began producing VHS cassettes of the series Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest – in Polish and English versions, with the original 4:3 SD image and mono sound.

After 19 years (!) since the end of production, the whole series was revitalized in 2014 at the Documentation and Program Collections Center of TVP S.A. After the original 16mm negative was precisely scanned, the image underwent lengthy and painstaking processing, which included scaling it to 16:9 HD widescreen format, undergoing stabilization, ginning, cleaning and retouching, as well as new color correction. The sound was remastered to 2.0 format.

In 2015. Polish Television produced and launched the Heartbeat series after revitalization, i.e. in 16:9 HD format, in the form of two disc releases – a DVD version and a BD (Bluray Disc) version.


On April 22, 1996, in Milano, Italy, at the 21st International Tourist Film Festival, Bożena and Jan Walencik received the award for best film in the Environment category for Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest. Part III. Giants and Dwarfs.

On April 2, 1997, in Warsaw, Jan Walencik received the Professor Hugo Steinhaus Award from the Polish Foundation for the Promotion of Science and the Society for the Promotion and Cultivation of Science for outstanding achievements in popularizing science on television, in particular for his series of films entitled Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest.

On October 10, 1998, in Łódź, at the 8th National Nature Review for the Włodzimierz Puchalski Award, Bożena and Jan Walencik received three awards for the film Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest. Part II. Never-ending Rivalry: the Grand Prix (for both of them), Radio Łódź’s special award for the best sound (for Bożena Walencik) and Janusz Czecz’s special award for cinematography (for Jan Walencik).

GALLERY – PHOTOS FROM THE MAKING OF THE SERIES (click on any photo to enlarge it and enter the gallery).

If our series Heartbeat of the Primeval Forest meets your expectations, you can buy the DVD or BLUE-RAY disc and own it legally.




error: Content is protected !!