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Andrzej Wajda

Andrzej Wajda

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Also Known As: Died: October 9, 2016
Born: March 6, 1926 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Suwalki, , PL Profession: director, screenwriter, cooper's assistant, art restorer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

By far the best-known film director working in Poland, Andrzej Wajda has achieved the status, both in his life and his work, of a symbol for his beleaguered country. The son of a cavalry officer killed in WWII, Wajda joined the Resistance as a teenager. Later, he studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Krakow for three years before transferring in 1950 to the newly opened State Film School in Lodz, where he learned technique directing several short films.Wajda's first feature film, "Pokolenie/A Generation" (1954), traced the fate of several young people living under the Nazi Occupation. It was followed in 1957 by "Kanal/They Love Life" a grim tribute to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, when Red Army units were unable or unwilling to come to the aid of the city. Wajda completed his trilogy on the effects of WWII with his best-known early film, the controversial "Popiol i Diament/Ashes and Diamonds" (1958), which dealt with the undeclared civil war of 1945-46 between elements of the anti-Communist Home Army and the security forces established by the Communist Party-dominated government. Based on a Jerzy Andrzejewski novel, the film incisively depicted the corruption and idealism coloring both sides of the...

By far the best-known film director working in Poland, Andrzej Wajda has achieved the status, both in his life and his work, of a symbol for his beleaguered country. The son of a cavalry officer killed in WWII, Wajda joined the Resistance as a teenager. Later, he studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Krakow for three years before transferring in 1950 to the newly opened State Film School in Lodz, where he learned technique directing several short films.

Wajda's first feature film, "Pokolenie/A Generation" (1954), traced the fate of several young people living under the Nazi Occupation. It was followed in 1957 by "Kanal/They Love Life" a grim tribute to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, when Red Army units were unable or unwilling to come to the aid of the city. Wajda completed his trilogy on the effects of WWII with his best-known early film, the controversial "Popiol i Diament/Ashes and Diamonds" (1958), which dealt with the undeclared civil war of 1945-46 between elements of the anti-Communist Home Army and the security forces established by the Communist Party-dominated government. Based on a Jerzy Andrzejewski novel, the film incisively depicted the corruption and idealism coloring both sides of the struggle. In keeping with Wajda's tragic sense of Polish history, the idealistic representative of each faction is killed, and both sides remain controlled by the corrupt--whether greedy politicians or arrogant aristocrats.

In addition to adapting literary works to the screen ("The Birch-Wood" 1970, "The Wedding" 1972, "The Young Girls of Wilko" 1979), Wajda has consistently drawn on Polish history for material suited to his tragic sensibility--from the fate of lancers serving under Napoleon in "Popioly/Ashes" (1965) to the harsh industrialization of Lodz in "Ziemia Obiecana/Land of Promise" (1975). It was in the late 1970s, however, that his films became a virtual barometer of social unrest and rebellion. "Czlowiek z Marmuru/Man of Marble" (1977) and "Bez Znieczulenia/Without Anesthesia" (1979) depict the oppression, respectively, of the worker and the intellectual in contemporary Poland. In the later film, a journalist discovers that he has taken the wrong side in a literary prize discussion and subsequently loses his university lectureship, as well as such special privileges as the opportunity to read foreign news magazines. Unable to cope with the simultaneous collapse of his marriage, he is driven to suicide. "Man of Marble," with a plot which echoes "Citizen Kane," traces a student filmmaker's attempt to reconstruct the story of Birkut, a Stakhanovite bricklayer and former propaganda hero who mysteriously fell from favor and went to an unmarked grave after the 1967 unrest.

That film's sequel "Czlowiek z Zelaza/Man of Iron" (1981), charted the beginnings of the Solidarity movement, using newsreel footage and featuring Solidarity leader Lech Walesa in both its documentary and directed segments. The events of August 1980 are seen through the eyes of Winkiel, an alcoholic reporter whom the secret police try to use in order to defame the movement. Although essentially a tribute to Solidarity's success, the film ends with a Party official laughingly dismissing the accord between union and government as a mere piece of paper. It also earned a 1981 Oscar nomination as Best Foreign-Language Film.

Following the military crackdown of the winter of 1981, Wajda moved to France to make "Danton" (1982), a consideration of the dual nature of revolution. The grim tone of the film is hardly surprising given the fate of Solidarity, and of his own "Unit X" film production unit, which was to be dismantled in 1983. He headed to Germany for "Eine Liebe in Deutschland/A Love in Germany" (1983), dealing with the tragic and forbidden relationship between a German woman and a Polish prisoner-of-war under the Third Reich. In 1989, with the astounding liberalization in Poland, Andrzej Wajda was not only elected as Solidarity candidate to the Sejm (the Polish parliament), but was able to realize a long-cherished project about Jewish-Polish pedagogue Janusz "Korczak" (1989), who died, along with his wards, in a Nazi death camp.

Into the 90s, Wajda has continued to create disturbing films, often returning to the familiar setting of WWII-era Poland. "The Ring With the Crowned Eagle" (1993), a look at Polish history with particular attention on the 1944 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. "Nastazja/Natasha" (1994) was a fascinating two-character retelling of the final chapter of "The Idiot," cast with Japanese Kabuki actors. The director returned to the Warsaw uprising with "Wielki Tydzien/Holy Week" (1996), which examined the event through the efforts of a Jewish woman seeking asylum with an intellectual. Most recently, Wajda depicted a metaphysical relationship with lesbian overtones in "Panna Nikt/Miss Nobody" (1997).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Sweet Rush (2009)
2.
  Katyn (2008)
3.
4.
  Pan Tadeusz (1999) Director
5.
  Miss Nobody (1997) Director
6.
  Holy Week (1996) Director
7.
  Krajobraz Po Bitwie (1996) Director
8.
  Natasha (1994) Director
10.
  Korczak (1990) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Wajda by Wajda (2017)
2.
3.
 Wajda's Danton (1983) Himself
4.
 Zdjecia Probne (1977) Himself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1942:
Became Polish Resistance fighter at age 16
:
Made first short films while attending film school in Lodz
1953:
Served as assistant to director Aleksander Ford on "Five Boys From Barska Street"
1953:
Co-wrote and directed diploma film "Three Stories"
1954:
Feature directing debut, "Pokolenie/A Generation"
1955:
Directed first documentary, "Ide ku sloncu/I Walk to the Sun"
1957:
First of Wajda's film to examine the Warsaw uprising, "Kanal/They Love Life"
1958:
Earned international attention with "Popiol i diament/Ashes and Diamonds"
1959:
Debut as theater director, "A Hatful of Rain"
1962:
First credit as a TV director, "Interview with Ballmayer"
1965:
Helmed the expensive historical romance "Popioly/Ashes"
:
Concentrated on stage directing in the 1970s
1975:
"Land and Promise" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign-Language Film
1977:
Helmed "Czlowiek z marmuru/Man of Marble"; employed a cinema verite style
1979:
"The Young Girls of Wilko/The Maids of Wilko" received Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign-Language Film
1981:
"Czlowiek z Zalaza/Man of Iron" earned Oscar nomination as Best Foreign-Language Film
1982:
Garnered further praise for his adaptation of "Danton" starring Gerard Depardieu
1989:
Elected Senator in Polish government (Solidarity Party representative)
1993:
Focused on the Warsaw Uprising in "The Ring with the Crowned Eagle"
1994:
Helmed "Natasha" featuring two Japanese Kabuki actors in a drama based on the final chapter of Dosetevski's <i>The Idiot</i>
1996:
Revisited familiar themes in "Holy Week"; focusing on a Jewish woman who seeks asylum from an intellectual during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising
1997:
Helmed "Panna Nikt/Miss Nobody"; a feature with lesbian overtones in its central relationship between a teenager and a New Age hippie
1999:
Helmed "Pan Tadeusz/The Last Foray in Lithuania"; selected as Poland's official entry for the Best Foreign-Language Academy Award
2002:
Directed "Zemsta/The Vengeance" starring Roman Polanski
2007:
Helmed the Polish film, "Katy?" about the Katyn massacre; earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
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Education

Academy of Fine Arts: -
State Film School: - 1950 - 1952

Notes

His name is pronounced AHN-Jay VY-da.

In April 2000, Wajda donated his honorary Academy Award to Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.

"The greatest difficulties I have are with myself." --Andrzej Wajda

"I am often asked why I bother myself with the theatre, whose works disappear with time and are so easily forgotten, since I can make films which last foreverm always having a chance to move and entertain future generations. It is precisely this ephemeral and transitory nature that truly and profoundly binds me to the theatre, for it is not only the meed of immorality and the wish to live on that constitute the natural human need--it is also the awareness of nothingness and death that attracts us, and with age even more so." --Wajda in 1990

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Beata Tyszkiewicz. Married in 1967; divorced.
wife:
Krystyna Zachwatowicz. Stage designer. Married in 1975.

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