Netflix’s ‘Mr. Car and the Knights Templar’ is an action-adventure drama movie directed by Antoni Nykowski and starring Mateusz Janicki, Sandra Drzymalska, Maria Dębska, Jacek Beler, and Anna Dymna. It follows Tomasz, an art historian, who comes across an ancient Templar cross, which can lead him to a hidden treasure. However, to unlock the relic’s secrets, he must join forces with others who seek the treasure for motives good and evil. Originally titled ‘Pan Samochodzik i Templariusze,’ the Polish-language movie features several historical references, generating curiosity about its inspiration. In case you wish to learn more about the inspiration behind ‘Mr. Car and the Knights Templar,’ here is everything you need to know!
Is Mr. Car and the Knights Templar a True Story?
No, ‘Mr. Car and the Knights Templar’ is not based on a true story. The film is based on author Zbigniew Nienacki’s book ‘Pan Samochodzik i Templariusze,’ first published in 1966 in the Polish language. The book’s title roughly translates to ‘Mr. Samochodzik and the Templars,’ with Samochodzik referring to the protagonist’s nickname “Mr. Automboile.” The 2023 film is the second live-action adaptation of the book following the 1971 black-and-white television series based on the titular character. The book was adapted into a screenplay by the trio of Bartosz Sztybor and Antoni Nykowski, with a story credit for the original author Zbigniew Nienacki.
Pan Samochodzik (Mr. Automobile), better known as Tomasz, is a fictional character created by Zbigniew Nienacki, first appearing in the author’s 1957 young adult book ‘Uroczysko,’ before going on to feature in a series of beloved books. Initially, Tomasz is introduced as a journalist before becoming an art historian and amateur detective, elements most evident in the fourth book, ‘Pan Samochodzik i Templariusze,’ which the film adapts. The character does not appear to be based on any real art historian and exists on the same plane as other swashbuckling heroes such as Indiana Jones.
Although the original work predated the ‘National Treasure‘ franchise, the basic outline of ‘Mr. Car and the Knights Templar’ uses a blend of history and fiction to a similar effect. Similarly, the movie’s visual style is reminiscent of the ‘Indiana Jones‘ franchise. However, the original book, which introduces the character of Tomasz, and its sequels, which follow his adventures, are stylistically similar to French author Jules Verne’s ‘Voyages Extraordinaires’ book series. Moreover, the panache and gadgetry of the titular character might also remind viewers of the enigmatic British spy James Bond created by Ian Fleming.
Even though none of these literary works and characters might have been a direct inspiration for the author Zbigniew Nienacki, the similarities suffice to say that Pan Samochodzik is a character who belongs in the realm of literary fiction and is not based on a real person. However, the movie does feature elements from real-world history with references to the Knights Templar, Teutonic Order, and other religious institutions that date back to as far as the eleventh century. It also references the Crusades, a series of religious wars throughout history, mainly between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.
The treasure Tomasz searches for itself is fictional, meant to drive the plot forward. However, the treasure also has its roots in speculative history, as several legends exist about the treasure the Knights Templar hid from King Philip. Ultimately, it is evident that ‘Mr. Car and the Knights Templar’ is not based on a true story. It is a mostly faithful and semi-modernized adaptation of Zbigniew Nienacki’s book, which itself is a blend of fiction, legends, and history. As a result, Mr. Car and his adventures belong strictly in the realm of fiction.