|The Last of
the Titans: Classics from Legendary Filmmaker Andrzej Wajda
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This series is an Aero Theatre Exclusive!
Presented in association with Akson Studio, Telewizja Polska
S.A., Polish Film Institute and ELMA, European Languages and Movies in America and with
promotion support from the Skirball Cultural Center.
Born in Suwalki, Poland in 1926, Andrzej Wajda lived a
relatively idyllic life with his family until shortly before WWII, when his father, a
Polish Infrantry captain, was killed in the 1939 Katyn massacre. Wajda survived the era of
Nazi-occupation in Poland, living hand-to-mouth along with his mother and brother.
Post-WWII, Wajda studied painting in Krakow, then switched his interests to motion
pictures in 1950, gravitating to the High Film School in Lodz and studying under
filmmakers Aleksander Ford and Jerzy Toeplitz. He made his feature film debut as director
with A GENERATION in 1955, the first of his post-war trilogy chronicling the Polish
Resistances fight against the Nazis. But he felt the picture was somewhat
compromised by his superiors movie-by-committee mindset (all emblematic of life
under a Communist regime.) The two sequels, KANAL (1957) and ASHES AND DIAMONDS (1958),
completed the trilogy and were internationally acclaimed. Wajda continued making movies
throughout the 1960s. In 1975, his feature THE PROMISED LAND, a critique of
19th Century Polish capitalism (which was also an allegory of Communist
massacres of Soviet and Polish workers in the sixties) was nominated for a Best Foreign
Language Film Oscar. Wajda made yet another scathing indictment of tyrannical bureaucracy
in 1977 with MAN OF MARBLE, an analysis of the destruction by political propaganda
of a famous labor leader who strayed too far from the party line. Wajdas follow-up,
MAN OF IRON (1981), continued to unmask the ruthless Communist machinations behind the
scenes intended to disrupt labor leader Lech Walesas Solidarity movement. 1983 saw
the release of one of Wajdas most lauded pictures, the Polish-French co-production
of DANTON, starring Gerard Depardieu as the doomed hero of the French Revolution. It
remains one of the most astute historical period epics and most stimulating political
thrillers ever made. Wajda served as President of the Polish Film Association between 1978
1983, and was also a member of Lech Walesas Solidarity Council (1981
1989). He won an honorary Academy Award in 2000 for his contribution to world cinema.
All films in Polish with English subtitles.
Saturday, December 15 7:30 PM
ASHES AND DIAMONDS (POPIÓL I
DIAMENT), 1958, Janus Films, 105 min. Director Andrzej Wajdas indubitable
masterpiece. The film is the last in a magnificent trilogy (A GENERATION and KANAL) that
proclaimed the Polish director as one of the most astounding new talents in postwar
Eastern Europe. Working on a variety of levels and set during the last days of WWII, when
the Germans and the-soon-to-dominate Russian Communists were fighting over Poland, Wajda
not only focuses on the confusion and the transformation of his country, but bravely
pictures the consciousness-raising of a generation. Here that generation is embodied by an
incredible Zbigniew Cybulski, who critics soon denoted as the James Dean of the
East. Wajdas mastery in lessons learned from the Italian Neorealists and his
collaboration with cinematographer Jerzy Wojcik (a rare example of a perfect intellectual
marriage) make this a must- see!
MAN OF MARBLE, 1977, 160 min.
Dir. Andrzej Wajda. Film as an act of bravery. One of a very small handful of films
that can rightfully be called "important." Dynamic young polish filmmaker
Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda) investigates the disappearance of mythical Stalinist
bricklayer hero Birkut (Jerzy Radziwilowicz). A CITIZEN KANE-like journey into the
past via newsreels, shady nightclubs and government agents. More than a clenched fist,
more than a history lesson, MAN OF MARBLE is a funny, sexy, powerful masterpiece. Plus
a Clip presentation of Andrzej Wajdas latest film KATYN.
Sunday, December 16 7:30 PM
THE PROMISED LAND, 1975, 115 min.
Dir. Andrzej Wajda. A sweeping, epic masterpiece. Three industrialist friends in
19th century Lodz, Daniel Olbrychski (THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING), Wojciech
Pszoniak (Robespierre in Wajdas DANTON) and Andrzej Seweryn
(SCHINDLERS LIST) dream of building a factory and making their fortune. Never has a
time or a city been captured so well on film. You can feel the mud, the smoke and the
greed. Adapted by Wajda from Nobel Prize winning author Stanislaw Reymont's novel. With an
amazing score by Wojciech Kilar.
KANAL, 1957, Janus Films, 95 min. Based
on a story by Jerzy Stawinski, the second film of director Andrzej Wajda's renowned
trilogy is definitely the darkest and won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film
Festival in 1957. A WWII Polish resistance group based in the sewers of Warsaw fights
against the Nazi Occupation. Starting from the darkness of the sewers, the belly of the
town, the murkiness of ignorance, these fighters jumpstart the rebirth of the nation. The
underground also serves as metaphor for a people hiding their true credo in freedom and
peace, battling against despotic insanity. "Aside from political reservations,
there were also artistic doubts. A film set in the darkness of the sewers wasn't
likely to be a cinematic success, but I was not afraid of this." -- Andrzej