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Andrzej Wajda (born 6 March 1926) is a Polishmarker film director. Recipient of an honorary Oscar, he is perhaps the most prominent member of the unofficial "Polish Film School" (active circa 1955 to 1963). He is known especially for a trilogy of war films: A Generation (1954), Kanal (1956) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958).

A major figure of world and Central European cinema after World War II, Wajda made his reputation as a sensitive and uncompromising chronicler of his country's political and social evolution. He is currently listed as the 97th greatest director of all-time by film website They Shoot Pictures Don't They, with four of his movies nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: Land of Promise (1975), The Maids of Wilko (1979), Man of Iron (1981), and Katyń (2007).

Life and career

Wajda was born in Suwałkimarker, the son of Aniela (née Biaxowas), a school teacher, and Jakub Wajda, a Polish cavalry officer murdered by the Soviets in 1940marker in what became known as the Katyn massacremarker. After the war, he studied to be a painter at Kraków's Academy of Fine Arts before entering the Łódź Film School.

In the 1940s, he was a member of the Polish United Workers' Party in Krakówmarker. On the heels of his apprenticeship to director Aleksander Ford, Wajda was given the opportunity to direct his own film. With A Generation (1954), the first-time director poured out his disillusionment over jingoism, using as his alter-ego a young anti-hero played by Tadeusz Lomnicki. There were also other future legends starring in this movie - Zbigniew Cybulski, Tadeusz Janczar and Roman Polański.

Wajda went on to make two more films which developed further the anti-war theme of A Generation: Kanal (1956) (The Silver Palm Award at Cannes Film Festivalmarker in 1957, ex aequo with Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958) (FIPRESCI Award at Venice Film Festival in 1959), also starring Cybulski. Wajda started working in the theatre at this time, where he directed several shows (Kapelusz pelen deszczu (Hatful of rain) and Dwoje na hustawce (Two on a seesaw)) and Hamlet.

While capable of turning out mainstream commercial fare (often dismissed as "trivial" by his critics), Wajda was more interested in works of allegory and symbolism, and certain symbols (such as setting fire to a glass of liquor, representing the flame of youthful idealism that was extinguished by the war) recur often in his films. But he explored other fields of human activity making for example a French new wave style film Innocent Sorcerers, with jazz music by Krzysztof Komeda, starring Roman Polański in one of the episodes. After this, Wajda returned to a war theme in a story about a Jewish boy Samson.

In 1967, Cybulski was killed in a train accident, and the director articulated his grief with what is considered his most personal film, Everything for Sale (1969).

The 1970s were the most lucrative and beneficial period for Wajda's artistic activity. He made over ten films, some of which were acclaimed as masterpieces: Pilate and others, Landscape After the Battle, The Wedding, The Promised Land, Man of Marble, The Orchestra Conductor - starring John Gielgud, Rough Treatment, The Birchwood and Maids of Wilko. Wajda continued his work in theatre and many of his most famous shows were shown at that time (his versions of Dostoyevsky's The Possessed and The Idiot - Nastasja Filippovna, November Night, The Immigrants, The Danton affair and Dürrenmatt's Play Strindberg.

Wajda's later devotion to Poland's emerging Solidarity movement was manifested in Man of Iron (1981), with Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa appearing as himself in the film, and earlier in Man of Marble (1976). The director's involvement in this movement would prompt the Polish government to force Wajda's production company out of business. For Man of Iron Wajda won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festivalmarker. In 1983 he directed Danton starring Gerard Depardieu in the title role, a film set in 1794 (Year Two) dealing with the Post-Revolutionary Terror. For some critics in Poland, the film carries sharp parallels with the Post-Revolutionary period in Russia as well as with fascist Germany. Wajda attempted at showing how easily revolution can become terror and how quickly it can start to 'eat its own children'. The film was criticized in France as biased and manipulating the history of the French revolution. Then Wajda made Love in Germany, Chronicle of Amorous Accidents and his film version of Dostoyevky's The Possessed. In theater Wajda worked on a Dostoyevsky adaptation for the third time with Crime and Punishment and directed some other works like Dybuk or Antygone. In 1990 he showed another film "Korczak".

In the early 1990s, he was elected a senator and also appointed artistic director of Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny. He continued to make films, addressing the topic of World War II in 1993's The Crowned-Eagle Ring and 1996's Holy Week.

In 1997, the director went in a different direction with Miss Nobody, a coming-of-age drama that explored the darker and more spiritual aspects of a relationship between three high-school girls. In 1999 there was a big artistic and box office success with Wajda's Pan Tadeusz. After that Wajda made a fanstastic political television spectacle Bigda idzie!, starring Janusz Gajos and the film version of Zemsta (The Revenge), starring Roman Polański and Janusz Gajos.At the 2000 Academy Awards, Wajda was presented with an honorary Oscar for his numerous contributions to cinema; he subsequently donated the award to Kraków's Jagiellonian University. In 2001 he opened the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing. In February 2006, Wajda received an honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Andrzej Wajda has been married four times. His third wife was the popular actress Beata Tyszkiewicz, with whom he has a daughter Karolina (born 1967). His fourth and current wife is actress and costume designer Krystyna Zachwatowicz.

Wajda's very personal project, the film Katyń (2007) concerns the Katyn massacremarker, in which his father lost his life. The director shows this tragedy from the perspective of those (mothers, wives and daughters) who wait for their relatives. In August 2008 he started shooting his next film based upon another novel by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz Tatarak (Sweet Rush) with Krystyna Janda in the main role who also appears as herself. The film was shown in the main section during the 59th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2009 and Andrzej Wajda was given very prestigious Alfred Bauer Prize for "developing new ways of film making". Sweet Rush happens to be poetic meditation about death, Wajda mixes true story and fiction.

Andrzej Wajda has founded Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakówmarker. He has also founded and leads his own film school: Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing, where students have different one year courses (led by famous European film makers) and work on their own projects. Many polish actors became famous due to their acting in Wajda's films (Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Pszoniak, Andrzej Seweryn, Jerzy Radziwiłowicz or Krystyna Janda).


Once dubbed a symbol for a besieged country, Wajda is known for drawing from Poland's history to suit his tragic sensibility—crafting an oeuvre of work that devastates even as it informs. His films are also famous of their visual sides. Wajda shows some symbolic scenes, very often he transforms some paintings onto the screen or makes new versions of some paintings from Polish and European history.


Man of Iron won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festivalmarker in 1981. Four of Wajda's works (The Promised Land, The Maids of Wilko, Man of Iron, and Katyń ) have been nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film. In 2000, Wajda received an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as another Pole who received the Award after Warner Brothers, Leopold Stokowski, Bronisław Kaper, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Janusz Kamiński, Allan Starski, Ewa Braun, Roman Polański or Jan A.P. Kaczmarek..

See also


  3. Komentarz - Miesięcznik polityczny - Łódź

External links

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