The concept of 'condensed history' developed by John Sundholm is used to analyse the movie 'Lava' by Tadeusz Konwicki. By using this concept it can be shown, on one hand, how the collective memory of social groups and nations is created, and, on the other hand, how a work of art can affect that memory. The author concentrates on the text of the Dziady by Adam Mickiewicz, and shows how it has been treated by Konwicki. He proceeds to show how the movie director has expanded on the original text and presented two centuries of Poland's history against the background of the 19th century poem. Finally he identifies those episodes in the movie which have been particularly emphasised by the director. The two aspects of the analysis, the spontaneous growth of collective memory and its susceptibility to influences, culminate in a review of the interest for the movie which was differently perceived in the early nineties and is differently perceived ten years later.