Andrzej Wajda: Wikis


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Andrzej Wajda

Andrzej Wajda, Warsaw (Poland), May 2006
Born 6 March 1926 (1926-03-06) (age 83)
Suwałki, Poland

Andrzej Wajda (About this sound listen ) (born 6 March 1926) is a Polish film director. Recipient of an honorary Oscar, he is possibly 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), Kanał (1956) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958).

He is currently listed as the 97th greatest director of all-time by film website They Shoot Pictures Don't They,[1] with four of his movies nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: The Promised Land (1975), The Maids of Wilko (1979), Man of Iron (1981), and Katyń (2007).


Early life and career

The son of a Polish cavalry officer murdered by the Soviets in 1940 in what became to be known as the Katyn massacre. After the war, he studied to be a painter at Kraków's Academy of Fine Arts before entering the Łódź Film School.

After his apprenticeship to director Aleksander Ford, Wajda was given the opportunity to direct his own film. With A Generation (1955), the first-time director poured out his disillusionment over jingoism, using as his alter ego a young, James Dean-style antihero played by Zbigniew Cybulski, 20-year-old Roman Polanski also featured. At the same time Andrzej Wajda began his work as a director in theatre, including some fantastic spectacles, like Michael V. Gazzo's Hatful of Rain (1959), Hamlet (1960), Two On a Seesaw (1963) by William Gibson. Wajda made two more increasingly accomplished films, which developed further the anti-war theme of A Generation: Kanał (1956) [Silver Palm at Cannes Festival in 1957, ex equo with Bergman's The Seventh Seal] and Ashes and Diamonds (1958), again with Cybulski.

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, the very characteristic of Wajda's symbolism is film Lotna (1959), full of surrealistic and symbolic scenes and shots but he managed to explore some other field of existence 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), a moving story about Jacob, a Jewish boy, who wants to survive during the Nazi occupation of Poland. In the mid-1960s Wajda showed the world an epic film The Ashes (1965) based on the novel by Polish writer Stefan Żeromski and directed some films abroad: Love at Twenty (1962), Siberian Lady Macbeth (1962) or Gates To Paradise (1968).

In 1967, Cybulski was killed in a train accident, whereupon the director articulated his grief with what is considered one of his most personal films, which turned out to be a touching story (using techique "film in film") about film maker's life and work on movie Everything For Sale (1968) whis is now established and regarded as one of the few films on that subject along with Federico Fellini's "8 1/2". The following year he directed an ironic satire Hunting Flies and a TV film based upon Stanisław Lem's short story "Roly Poly".

The 1970s were the most lucrative artistic period for Wajda,who has made over ten films, some of them became one of his finest works like Landscape After the Battle (1970), Pilat 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, very touching, psychological and existential films based upon novels by polish famous writer Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz - The Birch Wood (1970) and The Maids of Wilko (1979).

Wajda continued to work in theatre where he has made his best spectacles, 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 with Man of Iron (1981), a sort of thematic sequel to The Man of Marble, with Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa appearing as himself in the latter film. 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". For this film Wajda was honoured by receiving very prestigious Louis Delluc Award, he also gained a couple of Cesare 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 third 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.

Since 1989

In 1990 Andrzej Wajda was honoured as the third director, after Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman by Felix  - European Film Award 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 nineteenth-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 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.

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 [] 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.

Private life

Andrzej 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.


  • Without Anesthesia aka Rough Treatment (Bez znieczulenia, 1978)
  • The Maids of Wilko (Panny z Wilka, 1979)
  • As years go by, as days go by ("Z biegiem lat, z biegiem dni", 1980 serial tv)
  • The Orchestra Conductor (Dyrygent, 1980)
  • Man of Iron (Człowiek z żelaza, 1981)
  • Danton (1983)
  • A Love in Germany (Eine Liebe in Deutschland, 1983)
  • A Chronicle of Amorous Accidents (Kronika wypadków miłosnych, 1985)
  • The French as seen by... (Proust contre la déchéance, 1988)
  • The Possessed (Les possédes, 1988)
  • Korczak (1990)
  • The Crowned-Eagle Ring (Pierścionek z orłem w koronie, 1992)
  • Nastasja (1994)
  • The Holy Gral (Wielki Tydzień, 1995)
  • Miss Nobody (Panna Nikt, 1996)
  • Pan Tadeusz (1999)
  • Bigda idzie - tv theatre "Bigda idzie!"; 1999)
  • The Condemnation of Franciszek Klos (Wyrok na Franciszka Kłosa, 2000)
  • June night ("Noc czerwcowa" -tv theatre, 2001)
  • Broken Silence (Przerwane milczenie, 2002)
  • The Revenge (Zemsta, 2002)
  • Czlowiek z nadziei (2005)
  • Katyń (2007)
  • Sweet Rush (Tatarak) (2009)

Man of Iron won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival 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 Bros., Leopold Stokowski, Bronisław Kaper, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Janusz Kamiński, Allan Starski, Ewa Braun, Roman Polanski or Jan A. P. Kaczmarek..

See also


External links



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