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Andrzej Wajda

Andrzej Wajda
File:Andrzej Wajda OFF Plus Camera 2012(2).jpg
Wajda in 2012
Born (1926-03-06) 6 March 1926 (age 94)
Suwałki, Poland
Alma mater National Film School in Łódź
Occupation Film director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 1951–present
Spouse(s) Gabriela Obremba
Zofia Żuchowska
Beata Tyszkiewicz
Krystyna Zachwatowicz
Awards 40 px

Andrzej Wajda (Polish: [ˈandʐɛj ˈvajda]; born 6 March 1926) is a Polish film and theatre director. Recipient of an honorary Oscar, he is possibly the most prominent member of the unofficial "Polish Film School" (active c. 1955 to 1963). He is known especially for a trilogy of war films: A Generation (1954), Kanał (1956) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958).

Four of his films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: The Promised Land (1975),[1] The Maids of Wilko (1979),[2] Man of Iron (1981), and Katyń (2007).

Early life

Wajda was born in Suwałki, Poland, the son of Aniela (née Białowąs), a school teacher, and Jakub Wajda, an army officer.[3] Wajda's father was murdered by the Soviets in 1940 in what came to be known as the Katyn massacre. In 1942 he joined the Polish resistance and served in the Armia Krajowa. After the war, he studied to be a painter at Kraków's Academy of Fine Arts before entering the Łódź Film School.


After Wajda's apprenticeship to director Aleksander Ford, Wajda was given the opportunity to direct his own film. A Generation (1955) was one of Wajda's first major films. At the same time Andrzej Wajda began his work as a director in theatre, including such as Michael V. Gazzo's A Hatful of Rain (1959), Hamlet (1960), and Two for the Seesaw (1963) by William Gibson. Wajda made two more increasingly accomplished films, which developed further the anti-war theme of A Generation: Kanał (1956) (Special Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival in 1957, shared with Bergman's The Seventh Seal) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958) with Zbigniew Cybulski.

While capable of turning out mainstream commercial fare (often dismissed as "trivial" by his critics[who?]), 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. Lotna (1959) is full of surrealistic and symbolic scenes and shots, but he managed to explore other styles, making new wave style Innocent Sorcerers (1960) with music by Krzysztof Komeda, starring Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski (who was also a co-script writer) in the episodes. Then Wajda directed Samson (1961), the story of Jacob, a Jewish boy, who wants to survive during the Nazi occupation of Poland. In the mid-1960s Wajda made The Ashes (1965) based on the novel by Polish writer Stefan Żeromski and directed several films abroad: Love at Twenty (1962), Siberian Lady Macbeth (1962) and Gates To Paradise (1968).

In 1967, Cybulski was killed in a train accident, whereupon the director articulated his grief with Everything for Sale (1968), considered one of his most personal films, using the technique of a film-within-a-film to tell the story of a film maker's life and work.

File:Olbrychski wajda.jpg
Andrzej Wajda (center) in 1970
File:Andrzej Wajda 1974.jpg
Wajda during filming in 1974

The following year he directed an ironic satire Hunting Flies with the script written by Janusz Głowacki and a television film based upon Stanisław Lem's short story "Roly Poly".

The 1970s were the most lucrative artistic period for Wajda, who made over ten films: Landscape After the Battle (1970), Pilate and Others (1971), The Wedding (1972) – the film version of Polish most famous poetic drama by Stanisław Wyspiański, The Promised Land (1974), Man of Marble (1976) – the film takes place in two time periods, the first film showing the episodes of Stalinism in Poland, The Shadow Line (1976), Rough Treatment (the other title: Without Anesthesia) (1978), The Orchestra Conductor (1980), starring John Gielgud; or two psychological and existential films based upon novels by Polish famous writer Jarosław IwaszkiewiczThe Birch Wood (1970) and The Maids of Wilko (1979). The Birch Wood was entered into the 7th Moscow International Film Festival where Wajda won the Golden Prize for Direction.[4]

Wajda continued to work in theatre, including Play Strindberg, Dostoyevsky's The Possessed and Nastasja Filippovna – the Wajda's version of The Idiot, November Night by Wyspiański, The Immigrants by Sławomir Mrożek, The Danton Affair or The Dreams of Reason.

Wajda's later commitment to Poland's burgeoning Solidarity movement was manifested in Man of Iron (1981), a thematic sequel to The Man of Marble, with Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa appearing as himself in the latter film. The film sequence is loosely based on the life of Anna Walentynowicz, a hero of socialist labor [Stahanovite] turned dissident and alludes to events from real life, such as the recreation in Man of Iron of the firing of Anna Walentynowicz from the shipyard and the underground wedding of Bogdan Borusewicz to Alina Pienkowska.[5] The director's involvement in this movement would prompt the Polish government to force Wajda's production company out of business. For the film, Wajda won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1983 he directed Danton, starring Gérard Depardieu in the title role, a film set in 1794 (Year Two) dealing with the Post-Revolutionary Terror. Wajda showed how easy revolution can change into terror and starts to "eat its own children". But the film should also be seen in its historical context against the backdrop of the martial law in Poland, which can be referred to as its "Polish ambience."[6] For this film Wajda was honoured by receiving the very prestigious Louis Delluc Award, he also gained a couple of Cesar Awards. In the 1980s he also made some important films like A Love in Germany (1983) featuring Hanna Schygulla, The Chronicle of Amorous Incidents (1986) an adaptation of Tadeusz Konwicki's novel and The Possessed (1988) based on Dostoyevsky's novel, in which it is shown how terrorism begins. In theatre he prepared a very famous interpretation of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (1984) and other unique spectacles such as Antygone, his sequential Hamlet versions or an old Jewish play The Dybbuk.

In 1989 he was the President of the Jury at the 16th Moscow International Film Festival.[7]

Since 1989

In 1990 Andrzej Wajda was honoured as the third director, after Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman by the European Film Awards for his lifetime achievement. In the early 1990s, he was elected a senator and also appointed artistic director of Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny. He continued to make films set during World War II, including Korczak (1990), a story about a Jewish-Polish doctor who takes care of orphan children, in The Crowned-Eagle Ring (1993) and Holy Week (1995) specifically on Jewish-Polish relations. In 1994 Wajda presented his own film version of Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot in the movie Nastasja,starring Japanese actor Tamasoburo Bando in double role of Prince Mishkin and Nasstasya, the film was beautifully photographed by Pawel Edelman, who became one of Wajda's great co-workers since that time. In 1996 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 Wajda presented a great epic film Pan Tadeusz, based on the art of the Polish 19th-century romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz.

A year later, at the 2000 Academy Awards, Wajda was presented with an honorary Oscar for his contribution to world cinema; he subsequently donated the award to Kraków's Jagiellonian University.

In 2002 Wajda directed the comedy The Revenge, a film version of his 1980s theatre production, with Roman Polanski in one of the main roles. In February 2006, Wajda received an honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2007 Katyń was released, a well received film about the Katyn massacre, in which Wajda's father was murdered but the director also shows the dramatic situation of those who await for their relatives (mothers, wives and children). The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2008. Wajda followed it with Tatarak (Sweet Rush – 2009) with Krystyna Janda as a main character. It is partly based upon Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz short novel, there is also very important fragment taken from Janda's private life. Sweet Rush turns to be a sort of deep, calm and melancholic meditation about death and love. The film is dedicated to Edward Kłosiński, Janda's husband, a cinematographer and a long-time Andrzej Wajda's friend and co-worker who died of cancer the same year. For this film Andrzej Wajda was awarded by Alfred Bauer Prize at The Berlin Film Festival in 2009, recently he also got critics prize – Prix FIPRESCI during European Film Awards Ceremony. Walesa. Man of Hope (Wałęsa. Człowiek z nadziei), Wajda's biography of Lech Wałęsa, based on a script by Janusz Głowacki and starring Robert Więckiewicz in the title role, had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival on 5 Sep 2013.

Andrzej Wajda has founded The Japanese Centre of Art and Technology "Manggha" in Krakow/Cracow (1994) and has also founded (2002) (along with great Polish film maker Wojciech Marczewski) and leads his own film school [1] in which students take part in different film courses led by famous European film makers.


A major figure of world and European cinema after World War II, Wajda made his reputation as a sensitive and uncompromising chronicler of his country's political and social evolution. 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.

Andrzej Wajda's films have a strong visual side, he sometimes made his own versions of Polish and European paintings and he also thinks by the images. He tries to give the right mood and atmosphere of times in which he sets the action and he refers to the paintings of that time as well. He has worked with Polish cinematographers such as Jerzy Lipman, Jerzy Wójcik, Witold Sobociński, Edward Kłosiński, Zygmunt Samosiuk, Sławomir Idziak or Paweł Edelman, he also cooperated with Igor Luther or Robby Muller.

Personal life

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



Man of Iron won the Palme d'Or at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival. The Promised Land won the Golden Prize at the 9th Moscow International Film Festival in 1975.[8]

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 Bros., Leopold Stokowski, Bronisław Kaper, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Janusz Kamiński, Allan Starski, Ewa Braun, Roman Polanski or Jan A. P. Kaczmarek.

The Orchestra Conductor was entered into the 30th Berlin International Film Festival, where Andrzej Seweryn won the Silver Bear for Best Actor.[9] In 1988, his film Les Possédés was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 38th Berlin International Film Festival.[10] In 1996, his film Wielki tydzień won the Silver Bear for an outstanding artistic contribution at the 46th Berlin International Film Festival.[11] The following year, his film Miss Nobody won an Honourable Mention at the 47th Berlin International Film Festival.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "The 48th Academy Awards (1976) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "The 52nd Academy Awards (1980) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Andrzej Wajda Biography (1926?-)". Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "7th Moscow International Film Festival (1971)". MIFF. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  5. ^ [[Michael Szporer, Solidarity: The Great Workers Strike of 1980. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012 <>]]
  6. ^ Szporer, Mieczyslaw [Michael] (Winter 1983–1984). "Andrzej Wajda's Reign of Terror: Danton's Polish Ambiance". Film Quarterly 37:2: 27–34. 
  7. ^ "16th Moscow International Film Festival (1989)". MIFF. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "9th Moscow International Film Festival (1975)". MIFF. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  9. ^ "Berlinale 1980: Prize Winners". Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "Berlinale: 1988 Programme". Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "Berlinale: 1996 Prize Winners". Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "Berlinale: 1997 Prize Winners". Retrieved 8 January 2012. 

External links

Template:César Award for Best Director

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