Andrzej Wajda


Director
Andrzej Wajda

About

Birth Place
Suwalki, , PL
Born
March 06, 1926
Died
October 09, 2016

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 i...

Family & Companions

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

Notes

His name is pronounced AHN-Jay VY-da.

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

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 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).

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Sweet Rush (2009)
Director
Katyn (2008)
Director
Wyrok na Franciszka Klosav (2000)
Director
Pan Tadeusz (1999)
Director
Miss Nobody (1997)
Director
Krajobraz Po Bitwie (1996)
Director
Holy Week (1996)
Director
Natasha (1994)
Director
The Ring With the Crowned Eagle (1993)
Director
Korczak (1990)
Director
Les Possedes (1988)
Director
Everything For Sale (1987)
Director
Kronika wypadkow milosnych (1986)
Director
Eine Liebe in Deutschland (1984)
Director
Danton (1982)
Director
Man Of Iron (1981)
Director
Dyrygent (1980)
Director
Panny z Wilka (1979)
Director
The Young Girls Of Wilko (1979)
Director
Without Anesthesia (1979)
Director
Man of Marble (1977)
Director
The Promised Land (1976)
Director
Pilatus und Andere (1972)
Director
Wesele (1972)
Director
Gates to Paradise (1967)
Director
Lotna (1966)
Director
Ashes (1965)
Director
Love at Twenty (1963)
Director of "Poland"
Siberian Lady Macbeth (1962)
Director
Ashes and Diamonds (1961)
Director
Samson (1961)
Director
Innocent Sorcerers (1960)
Director
Lotna (1959)
Director
Kanal (1957)
Director
Ide ku Sloncu (1955)
Director
Generation (1955)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Wajda by Wajda (2017)
Himself
Primo Levi's Journey (2006)
Wajda's Danton (1983)
Himself
Zdjecia Probne (1977)
Himself

Writer (Feature Film)

Sweet Rush (2009)
Screenplay
Katyn (2008)
Screenplay
Wyrok na Franciszka Klosav (2000)
Screenwriter
Pan Tadeusz (1999)
Screenplay
Holy Week (1996)
Screenwriter
Natasha (1994)
Screenwriter
Les Possedes (1988)
Screenplay
Everything For Sale (1987)
Screenwriter
Kronika wypadkow milosnych (1986)
Screenwriter
Eine Liebe in Deutschland (1984)
Screenwriter
Danton (1982)
Screenplay
Without Anesthesia (1979)
Screenwriter
The Promised Land (1976)
Screenwriter
Pilatus und Andere (1972)
Screenwriter
Gates to Paradise (1967)
Screenwriter
Lotna (1966)
Screenwriter
Ashes and Diamonds (1961)
Screenwriter
Samson (1961)
Screenwriter
Lotna (1959)
Screenwriter
Ide ku Sloncu (1955)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

Przesluchanie (1989)
Executive Producer

Art Director (Feature Film)

Pilatus und Andere (1972)
Art Direction

Costume-Wardrobe (Feature Film)

Pilatus und Andere (1972)
Costumes

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Visage de Chien (1986)
Technical Advisor (Artistic)

Special Thanks (Feature Film)

Schindler's List (1993)
Thanks

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Liberte (1989)
Other
Wajda's Danton (1983)
Other

Cast (Special)

72nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation (2000)
Performer

Life Events

1942

Became Polish Resistance fighter at age 16

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"

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 The Idiot

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

Videos

Movie Clip

Ashes And Diamonds (1968) - Too Much Light V-E Day in a small Polish city, double dealing Drewnowski (Bogumil Kobiela) finds Andrzej (Adam Pawlikowski) and Maciek (Zbigniew Cybulski), who think they've just killed the incoming Soviet puppet commissar, in Andrzej Wajda's Ashes And Diamonds, 1958.
Ashes And Diamonds (1958) - Who's This Guy Again? Opening scene, Maciek (Zbigniew Cybulski) asking fellow Polish Home Army resistance fighter Andrzej (Adam Pawlikowski) who it is they're assassinating, on the day of Germany's surrender, introducing the complex political currents in director Andrzej Wajda's Ashes And Diamonds, 1958.
Ashes And Diamonds (1958) - No One's Waiting For You On the day of Germany's World War II surrender, Polish Home Army resistance fighters Maciek (Zbigniew Cybulski) and Andrzej (Adam Pawlikowski) meet bar-maid Krystyna (Ewa Krzyzewska) and contemplate the future, in Andrzej Wajda's Ashes And Diamonds, 1958.
Ashes And Diamonds (1958) - Innocent People Died Needlessly Russian troops rolling into Poland as World War II ends, Home Army partisans "the major" (Ignacy Machowski) and his lieutenant Andrzej (Adam Pawlikowski) review their accidental assassination of a worker, in director Andrzej Wajda's final feature in his acclaimed war trilogy, Ashes And Diamonds, 1958.
Generation (1955) - The Ghetto Rose Up Polish partisans (Tadeusz Janczar, Roman Polanski, Ryszard Kotas) joined by pal Stach (Tadeusz Lomnicki) and leader Dorota (Urszula Modrzynska), then veteran Sekula (Janusz Paluszkiewicz) brings news of the Warsaw ghetto, in Andrzej Wajda's Generation, 1955.
Generation (1955) - Here In The Slums Advanced single-shot opening from director Andrzej Wajda's first film, beginning his renowned World War II trilogy, from Generation, 1955.
Generation (1955) - Real Patriotic Thief Narration by Stach (Tadeusz Lomnicki) continuing from the opening, stealing coal from a train in Nazi-occupied Poland, then meeting Grzesio (Ludwik Benoit), in Andrzej Wajda's Generation, 1955.
Generation (1955) - Death To The Occupiers! Polish teens Stach (Tadeusz Lonmicki) and Jacek (Ryszard Kotas), in Catholic school mandated by Nazi occupiers, then recruited by young partisans led by Dorota (Urszula Modrzynska), in Andrzej Wajda's Generation, 1955.
Kanal (1957) - I'm Your Messenger Hiding from the Nazis in a bombed-out Warsaw hotel, resistance fighter Korab (Tadeusz Janczar) and girlfriend Daisy (Tereza Izewska) discussing her arrival through the sewer, the Polish word for which is the film's title, in Kanal, 1957, directed by Andrzej Wajda.
Kanal (1957) - Warsaw Uprising The entire enormous opening shot from director Andrzej Wajda in the second film in his World War II trilogy, introducing Zadra (Winczyslaw Glinski), Korab (Tadeusz Kanczar) and much of the band of Polish resistance fighters, from Kanal, 1957.

Companions

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

Bibliography

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