While he’s exercising filmmaking muscles that are mighty spry for a 90-year-old, no one will mistake Andrzej Wajda’s latest feature for an expression of joie de vivre: “Afterimage” is a somber portrait of a Polish artist who, unlike his portraitist here, was defeated by the fickle shifts of political ideology imposed on art. This respectable if somewhat monotonous drama won’t be an easy sell to offshore audiences for whom its subject, avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski is hardly a household name. Moreover the film references his defining triumphs just in passing, focusing instead on bleak later years when he was persecuted for failing to tow the Party aesthetic line. The result is another significant chapter in Polish history from Wajda, albeit one unlikely to travel as widely as some of his past subjects. Continue reading Andrzej Wajda – Powidoki AKA Afterimage (2016)
The depiction of the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Poland’s Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa, as events in the 1970s lead to a peaceful revolution.
Wałęsa, an electrician at the Gdańsk Shipyards, participated in local demonstrations during the 1970s. Following the bloody aftermath, which remains with Wałęsa, he concentrates on his day-to-day duties. Ten years later, a new uprising occurs and he becomes an unexpected and charismatic leader of Polish dockworkers. Continue reading Andrzej Wajda – Walesa. Czlowiek z nadziei AKA Walesa: Man of Hope (2013)
Wajda’s remarkable sequel to Man of Marble welds newsreel footage of the Solidarity strike to fiction in a strong investigative drama. A disillusioned, vodka-sodden radio producer is bundled off to Gdansk in a black limousine. His mission: to smear one of the main activists – who also happens to be the son of the hapless ‘Marble’ worker-hero. But, tempered by bitter experience of the failed reforms of ’68 and ’70, these new men of iron are more durable than their fathers, not as easily smashed. Media cynicism, censorship and corruption are again dominant themes, this time anchored through the TV coverage of the strike, though the conclusion hints with guarded optimism at a possible rapprochement between workers and intelligentsia. An urgent, nervy narrative conveys all the exhilaration and bewilderment of finding oneself on the very crestline of crucial historical change; and for the viewer, all the retrospective melancholy of knowing that euphoria shattered by subsequent events. Continue reading Andrzej Wajda – Czlowiek z zelaza AKA Man of Iron (1981)
In May of 1983, a man turns 49 and, with his 17-year old son, journeys to the village in Baden that he left 40 years before. He wants to discover what happened then, the truth about an affair his mother had with a young Polish prisoner of war, how the authorities came to learn of it, the lovers’ arrest, and the aftermath. While his son takes Polaroid photographs, he retraces the steps of his childhood and interviews those who should remember. The story is disclosed in flashbacks that focus on the lovers (Paulina and Stanislaus), on a jealous and conniving neighbor, and on Mayer, the local SS commander who wants to find a way out of inevitable consequences.
Venice Film Festival – Golden Lion – 1983 Continue reading Andrzej Wajda – Eine Liebe in Deutschland AKA A Love in Germany (1983)
First short film by Wajda, based on the story “A Naughty Boy” by A. Chekhov. Continue reading Andrzej Wajda – Zly chlopiec AKA The Bad Boy (1950)
Synopsis : At the end of the Warsaw uprising, the few remaining groups of Polish resistance are collapsing under the German onslaught. After taking heavy casualties, the 43 men and women fighters of Lt. Zadra (Wienczyslaw Glinski) are ordered back into the center of the city via the only route not completely controlled by the Germans, the sewers…
Continue reading Andrzej Wajda – Kanal (1957)
A young doctor is tired of being sought by women. One night he meets a young girl who all but forces herself into his room where they talk of morals and love. But he loses her when he goes out to see some friends and then rushes madly around the city after her.
A neglected masterpiece by Andrzej Wajda, reflective of the best of 1960s Polish cinema. Wry and cynical in tone, the work is important for being “the first film in Eastern Europe to chronicle the disillusionment of the younger generation” (San Francisco Chronicle). A bachelor doctor, who is also a jazz musician, can’t quite commit himself to his superficial girlfriend. He and his aimless friends find any kind of human contact or emotional commitment a troubling and ultimately uninviting prospect. With Tadeusz Lomnicki, Zbigniew Cybulski, and a young Roman Polanski. Continue reading Andrzej Wajda – Niewinni czarodzieje AKA Innocent Sorcerers (1960)