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Man of Marvel: Andrzej Wajda

Saturday, January 17, 2009
8:00 p.m. Ashes and Diamonds
Andrzej Wajda (Poland, 1958)

New Print
Introduced by Tony Lin

Tony Lin is is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at UC Berkeley. He has been a recipient of both a Fulbright and a Kosciuszko Foundation scholarship.

(Popiol i diament). Returning to the World War II theme in Ashes and Diamonds, Wajda offered a searing examination of individual heroism and national consciousness that also was relevant to the contemporary moment. Wajda’s approach to history is close-in, subjective, and painful, following the trajectory of individual fates; his devastating, symbolic hyperrealism gives political form to a tragic struggle. The story is set at a crucial moment when past and future met in exhausted uncertainty for the Polish people: the last day of the war and the first day of the peace. Zbigniew Cybulski became an existential hero (“the Polish James Dean”) for his portrayal of the young resistance fighter Maciek, who must carry out his final, now irrelevant order, to kill a Communist functionary. Maciek faces a night of procrastination, grasping at a few moments of happiness, before Wajda skillfully answers for history the question of the usefulness of Maciek’s “lost generation” in postwar Poland.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Wajda, Jerzy Andrzejewski, based on the novel by Andrzejewski. Photographed by Jerzy Wojcik. With Zbygniew Cybulski, Eva Krzyaewska, Waclaw Zastrzezynski, Adam Pawlikowski. (102 mins, In Polish with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)