Andrzej Wajda is considered to be one the most brilliant film creators. His portfolio includes plenty of great and unforgettable films, but even among them the the greatest gems could be singled out. Which of his works were most significant to his career? Which of the movies by him earned the greatest renown from critics and viewers?
The film portrays a story of the last hours of life of Home Army soldiers who fought in the Warsaw Uprising. When an attempt to get through German outposts failed, a company of lieutenant Zadra is tasked with getting from Mokotow to the Downtown which still fights on. The only chance is to get there through the sewer system. The dramatic script was written by Jerzy Stefan Stawinski. „Sewer” is the first post-war film about the Warsaw Uprising. The work was awarded with a Silver Palm at the Cannes festival.
Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
A story of a young Home Army soldier, Maciek Chelmicki, who gets an order to shoot a secretary of KW PPR, but due to a coincidence kills a different person. When he meets his would-be target, he gets shocked, as he realizes he will have to repeat the attack. Then he meets a barmaid named Krystyna and falls in love with her. This relationship causes him to realize how pointless it is to kill after the war is over, but the oath he took and the necessity to follow orders turn out to be stronger.
Innocent Sorcerers (1960)
The movie’s plot focuses on a meeting between a young doctor and a beautiful girl who sleep together and then attempt to stay indifferent in order to mask the attraction developing between them. The tale of Bazyli and Pelagia is the most low-key film by Wajda, taking place in a single time and place. Despite the master himself later describing the film as „one of the most politically neutral films he ever made”, it couldn’t go without an intervention by the socialist government’s censorship bureau, which considered some of the scenes to be indecent.
The Wedding (1972)
The film is an adaptation of a drama by Stanislaw Wyspianski. The action focuses on a single wedding and starts with the wedding procession leaving the church and subsequently switches to the Host’s house. The Bride comes from a farming family, whereas the Groom is an intellectual, and similar divisions exist among the guests. And then when the wedding reception is crashed by a sentient haystack, an aura of eeriness enters it. A very important part of the tales is held by symbols, and the movie itself is great at giving off vibes of a bygone era.
The Promised Land (1974)
Another important film by Wajda is an adaptation of a novel by Władysław Reymont. The story revolves around three friends, Karol, Maks and Moryc, who start a factory in Lodz and give up on the ideals of their youth in order to make a fortune. The work makes a great portrait of the capitalistic conflicts of the late 1800s Lodz. The production has earned plenty of awards, on top of being nominated to Oscar.
Man of Marble (1976)
The film takes place in 1976, when a film school student named Agnieszka produces her alma mater film on Mateusz Birkut, a former hero of socialism. Although the party’s activists tried to prevent „Man of Marble” from being distributed, it quickly gained publicity and up to this day it remains one of the most discussed works by the master. The film targeted the contemporary government in its accusation of sacrificing an individual for the sake of the system.
Man of Iron (1981)
The film’s protagonist is a radio reporter who gets assigned with making a reportage that would discredit Maciek Tomczyk, son of Mateusz Birkut. Maciek is a worker at the Gdansk Shipyard and a practicing activist of the strike committee. The master himself would later say that „Man of Iron” was his only commissioned film, as it was the shipyard workers who asked him to make it.
The film is an adaptation of a national epic by Adam Mickiewicz. The plot focuses on the character of Jacek Soplica, but first we meet 18-year-old Tadeusz Soplica, who return to his family manor. His uncle gets an idea to get the protagonist married with Zosia Horeszkowna in order to bring feuding families back together. Dialogue in the film were cut compared to the source work, although their rhyming form was maintained.
The Revenge (2002)
A movie adaptation of a comedy work by Aleksander Fredro. The story revolved around neighbors, Czesnik Raptusiewicz and Rejent Milczek. Both gentlemen have been conflicted for years, and to make things worse, they develop interest in the same lady, widow Podstolina. The work received favorable reviews, especially thanks to great performance by Roman Polanski, who played a playboy and merrymaker named Papkin.
In this film, Andrzej Wajda returned to the wartime themes, playing a tribute to the victims of the Katyn massacre (during which his father was killed as well). „Katyn” tells the story of the tragedy, focusing on the point of view of the women waiting for their husbands and sons to return home, as well as the accompanying prisoners of war captured by the Soviets.