Legend of world cinema, the Palme d’or at Cannes in 1977, he was throughout his life the champion of the difficult history of poland to which he was able to give a universal dimension.
The famous director of Polish Andrzej Wajda is death Sunday night in Warsaw at the age of 90 years, announced his family and several Polish media. The director of Man of Marble and many other films reflecting the complex history of his country is décéde of pulmonary insufficiency. Hospitalized for several days, he was in a coma pharmacological, indicated a close family member who has asked to remain anonymous. “We had hoped that he would,” said the screenwriter and director Jacek Bromski on the private channel TVN24. Despite its great age, the filmmaker had remained very active in recent years, assisted by his wife Krystyna Zachwatowicz, actress, stage director and set designer.
Born on 6 march 1926 in Suwalki, in the north-east of the country, Andrzej Wajda wants to follow the example of his father, a military career, and tries, without success, to enter in 1939, in a military school, on the eve of the Second world war. During the nazi occupation, he starts to follow a painting course that it will extend after the war at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, before entering the famous film school in Lodz. His early films are imbued with a painful experience of the war, the Polish resistance against the nazis. His first feature film, Generation (1955), a story on the plight of young people of the suburbs of Warsaw during the occupation, gave birth to the famous “Polish School of cinema”, the stream where we undertook a debate on the heroism and romanticism of the poles.
“The day of the Palm has been very important in my life, of course. But I was aware that this award was not only for me.”
In 1957, Andrzej Wajda gets in Cannes, the special Jury Prize for his masterpiece on the Warsaw uprising in 1944, Kanal (They loved life). “This was the beginning of everything”, confessed to the AFP 50 years later. “It has allowed me to do what needed to be my next film, Ashes and diamonds (1958). It has given me a strong position in the Polish cinema”. From the 70s, the work of Andrzej Wajda draws on the literary heritage (Polish: The birch (1970), The Wedding (1972), Land of promise (1974).
In 1977, he presented at the Cannes film Festival, Man of marble, critical of the communist Poland, to which he gives the following three years later in iron Man. The film, telling almost in real time the epic of Solidarity, the first free trade union in the communist world, was awarded the Palme d’or at Cannes. “The day of the Palm has been very important in my life, of course. But I was aware that this award was not only for me. It was also a prize for the Solidarity trade union”, he explained. Andrzej Wajda has offered his Palme d’or to a museum in Krakow. It is exposed at the side of other trophies like the Oscar which was awarded to him in 2000 for his work as a whole. While his many friends are imprisoned during the coup of general Wojciech Jaruzelski against Solidarnosc in December 1981, the Golden Palm of the saves of the prison.
His stance hostile to the regime of Jaruzelski incite him to make films abroad. He turns then Danton (1983) with Gerard Depardieu, A love in Germany (1986), or The Possessed (1988) based on Dostoyevsky. After the fall of communism in 1989, Andrzej Wajda returns to the story with Korczak (1990), The Ring of horse-hair (1993), or Holy Week (1995). It adapts always to the cinema major works of Polish literature such as Pan Tadeusz, when Napoleon crossed the niemen (nemunas) (1999) and Vengeance (2002). His film on modern Poland after 1989, Miss Nobody (1996) does not meet the expected success.
In Katyn, was nominated to the Oscar in 2008, it tells the tragic story of his own father, Jakub Wajda, who was one of 22,500 Polish officers massacred by the Soviets in 1940, including Katyn. Captain of a regiment of infantry of the Polish army, he was executed by a bullet in the nape of the neck by the NKVD, the secret police of Stalin. The film of Wajda devoted to the leader of the Solidarity trade union Lech Walesa, entitled the man of The people, was released in theaters in 2013. It was presented at the Venice film festival selection out of competition.
Lovers of the theatre, Andrzej Wajda has also directed forty plays, of which several are exhibited abroad, notably in South America and Japan. Big fan of the japanese culture, the filmmaker has created in 1994 in Krakow, a center of japanese culture, the Manggha. In 2002, he launched his own school of cinema and screenwriting.
His latest film, Powidoki (After-image, 2016), which had its premiere in September at the Toronto Festival, and which is not yet out in the room, will be the candidate of poland to the Oscar. Wajda tells the story of the last years of the life of an avant-garde painter and art theorist, Wladyslaw Strzeminski, in struggle against the stalinist power. Some critics saw in it a metaphor of present-day Poland, led by the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS).
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