Synopsis by Judd Blaise
Playwright Tom Stoppard, best known for such works as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Arcadia, turned his attention to recent Polish history in this television film about the early 1980s formation of the Solidarity movement. Filmed just two years after the actual events, Squaring the Circle initially focuses on the inner workings of the Politburo and their reactions to the strikes led by deeply dissatisfied workers. When the strikes become more prominent and unified, with demands for independent trade unions, the film's attention shifts to the leaders of the workers, especially the charismatic Lech Walesa. For a brief period, the workers and the Politburo make a doomed attempt to come to an acceptable compromise in order to avoid internal violence and prevent the intervention of Russian troops. Stoppard addresses the complexities of dramatizing recent history by telling his tale through an unreliable narrator, who is occasionally interrupted and corrected by a native Pole regarding certain historical and political facts. Originally made for British television by director Michael Hodges, the film underwent a number of unauthorized changes in the hands of the American co-producers; the detrimental effects of these changes are detailed in Stoppard's introduction to the published script.