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Man of Marvel: Andrzej Wajda

Friday, January 16, 2009
6:30 p.m. A Generation
Andrzej Wajda (Poland, 1954)

(Pokolenie). It is difficult to overstate the importance of A Generation. As Roman Polanski put it very simply, “The whole Polish cinema began with it.” Using neorealism as a model, with only the germ of Wajda’s later stylistic tropes, seen today, A Generation reaffirms its status as a film of unique sensitivity to the experience of Wajda’s generation. The first installment in a loose trilogy on the cruel ironies of Poland’s wartime Resistance and postwar reconstruction, which includes Kanal and Ashes and Diamonds, the film tells of a group of young people who seek to define their own identities in the attitudes and events of the Nazi occupation. These youths have not only to earn a living under incredibly difficult circumstances; they must also learn to hate and kill. Love is snatched greedily during the pauses in the fight. The setup for the postwar generation lies in the question, “Could it be easier to die for a cause than to live for it?”

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Bohdan Czeszko, based on his novel. Photographed by Jerzy Lipman. With Tadeusz Lomnicki, Urszula Modrzynska, Tadeusz Janczar, Janusz Paluszkiewicz. (83 mins, In Polish with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)