How I Became a Gangster is a Polish mafia movie released in 2020 and recently landed on Netflix. It rapidly became popular on the streaming platform, and people immediately wondered how true the story behind the film is: a piece of information that the Internet doesn’t reveal easily, as many webzines only confirm that the film is based on actual events. But what viewers want to understand is if a real gangster talked and presented all facts or if the movie writers created a fictional story based on true events: in this article, we will provide the real answer.
You can watch the official trailer for How I Became a Gangster here on Youtube.
Is How I Became a Gangster a true story? What’s the source of the movie?
How I Became a Gangster was written by the Polish writer Krzysztof Gureczny: he wrote both a book and the movie screenplay in 2019, allowing both to be released almost simultaneously. If you have the chance to read the book, you’ll find out that the writer had a lengthy interview with a real Polish gangster who obviously wanted to remain anonymous. The story presented by the book and the movie is therefore presented as an accurate description of this gangster’s life over four decades. You can find in this Polish article some extracts from the book, where you’ll have a feeling about how the interview between Gureczny and the gangster went (maybe using an automatic translator).
Does this mean that How I Became a Gangster is a true story? Well, that depends on how much you are willing to believe the words of a real gangster who decides to share his view with a writer. In the book, at some point, they talk about “Masa,” aka Jaroslaw Sokołowski, the most famous criminal in the recent history of Poland. And the anonymous gangster criticizes him: he became a crown witness, betraying all his friends who trusted him inside the gang, so the nameless gangster behind the movie and the book asks the writer: how can you trust, as a reader of his books, someone who already betrayed his closest friend? For the same reason, it is up to each of us to decide how much we want to believe the words of a real gangster who shared his story with no apparent purpose: he’s not in prison, he’s not making money out of it, and he has all motivations to hide any detail that could lead to his identification. Do you like the idea that a criminal tells the truth to the whole world just because he wants to appear as a sort of hero who never wants to betray his close friends?
At this point, you may ask yourself if we actually can believe that this gangster who shared his whole story with Krzysztof Gureczny really exists. Gureczny presented his book as the result of an actual interview with this gangster (you can confirm this on the video presentations he made in Polish), so in this case, the question becomes if the polish writer really talked with a mafia gangster or if he managed to make up such a realistic story, in the form of an interview, making everyone believe that he had an authentic source. Most likely, the interview in the book is authentic.
In conclusion, we can trust the movie author and believe that How I Became a Gangster is based on the story told by an actual Polish mafia boss, presented as a true story, clean of all the details that can lead to his identification. If the gangster told the truth, it’s a real story. And that’s where you decide who to trust: a hard choice, as the movie itself shows.