Forgotten Love: Is the Netflix Movie Inspired by a Real Surgeon?

Helmed by Michal Gazda, ‘Forgotten Love’ is a Polish film that follows Professor Rafał Wilczur, a successful and wealthy surgeon, whose wife leaves him for another man and takes their daughter along with her. During the search for his family, the surgeon gets beaten by some goons and loses his memory. With no idea about his past life, Wilczur ends up in a village where he uses his surgical abilities to help and cure the local people fifteen years later. However, little does he know that his own daughter is right in front of his eyes, and the duo’s lives get intertwined once again.

Driven by the authentic performances of Leszek Lichota, Maria Kowalska, Ignacy Liss, Anna Szymanczyk, Miroslaw Haniszewski, and Izabela Kuna, the period romance film paints a realistic picture of 1930s Poland and makes the audience wonder if it is based on a true story.

Forgotten Love is Based on a Fiction Novel

The film is based on the 1937 novel ‘The Quack’ (Polish title ‘Znachor’) by Polish author Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz. Interestingly, the Netflix film is the third adaptation of the novel. The earlier adaptations, both sharing the novel’s eponymous title, were released in 1937 and 1982 and were directed by Michał Waszyński and Jerzy Hoffman respectively.

At the same time, akin to the novel, ‘Forgotten Love’ explores the universally relevant themes of love, jealousy, and duty. Even after forgetting everything about his past, Rafał feels an instant connection with his daughter, Marysia, when he comes across her after a gap of fifteen years. Despite being unaware of the fact that she is his own blood, Rafał deeply cares for her and goes out of his way to protect her life. The heartfelt relationship between the father and daughter forms the motif of the film, which is very much applicable to the real world.

At the same time, Rafał’s colleague Dr. Jerzy Dobraniecki’s jealousy knows no boundaries. While the professor considers him a friend and confides in him, Jerzy does not even think twice before betraying him and putting his life at risk. His ambition to get the post of chief surgeon almost costs Rafał his life. Even after finding out that Rafał is alive, Jerzy tries his best to make sure that the professor does not regain his memory so that the secret of his betrayal doesn’t come to light. The film masterfully depicts how jealousy can damage relationships and lead to insecurity and negativity.

Another real-world theme beautifully portrayed in the film is the importance of duty. Though Rafał loses all the memories of his life, he continues to imbibe the skills of a surgeon and goes on to perform surgeries on villagers to save their lives with whichever convenient tools he can find. While the practice is seen as illegal and the professor faces the risk of being imprisoned, he trusts his abilities and performs his duty towards his patients with the utmost conviction.

The movie also explores divisions based on class through the love story of Marysia and Count Leszek Czynski. Marysia, being a waitress, is despised by Leszek’s mother, the Countess, who goes to any extent to keep her son away from a girl she considers isn’t worthy of her family’s name. The issue of class division is prevalent in many parts of the world even today. Meanwhile, talking about the adaptation, actor Leszek Lichota, who essays the role of Rafał Wilczur in the film, revealed that he himself grew up on the story of Professor Wilczur.

“I feel very privileged to have been able to play a character as important to the Polish culture as this one. Period dramas are always challenging but I do believe that the director and the crew did a wonderful job recreating the aesthetics of the 20/30s of the 20th century. A time in history when honor, work ethics, empathy, and romantic love were in the forefront,” Lichota said in a statement. Hence, ‘Forgotten Love’ is not based on any real story but instead on a novel that is considered a classic in Polish culture. That being said, the film does touch upon several subjects and themes that are relevant to the real world.

Read More: Where Was Forgotten Love Filmed?