Monday, 10 October 2016

RIP Andrzej Wajda

The celebrated Polish film director Andrzej Wajda has sadly passed away at the age of 90.

In the 1950s, Wajda was hailed as the voice of Poland's disaffected youth, creating such legendary pieces of work as his 'war trilogy' - A Generation, Kanal and Ashes and Diamonds - as the country struggled through political and economic turmoil. In the subsequent decade and into the 1970s, Wajda railed against Communist censorship with a series of adaptations of allegorical Polish novels, using the period setting to subtly challenge contemporary Poland. By the end of the decade, Wajda had given us the brilliant Man of Marble, hailed as Polish cinema's Citizen Kane, which unflinchingly told the tale of a bricklayer in the Stalinist regime of the 1950s and was subsequently followed up with a sequel, Man of Iron in 1981, which looked at the son of that worker-hero, following irrevocably in his father's footsteps with his activities in the Solidarity movement. From there, he made Danton starring Gerard Depardieu, drawing parallels between the relationships of Danton and Robespierre and Poland's own Lech Walesa and General Jaruzelski. Later films included 2009's Tatarak about a May to December romance between a middle-aged woman and a young man, and 2013's biopic Walesa: Man of Hope. Wajda received an honorary Oscar in 2000.

Born in north-east Poland, Wajda's father Juakub, a cavalry officer, was killed at the Katyn massacre - events the director would explore with Katyn, his 2007 film. Wajda joined the resistance at the age of 16 and following liberation, he enrolled in the prestigious film school in Lodz. He was married four times, and is survived by his fourth wife and his daughter from his third marriage.


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