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Man of Marvel: Andrzej Wajda

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
7:00 p.m. The Promised Land
Andrzej Wajda (Poland, 1975)

(Ziemia obiecana). From its opening vision of the green life of turn-of-the-century Polish nobility, one has the sense that The Promised Land is truly an “escape novel on film” . . . until it slowly emerges that Wajda is about to unfold one of the most searing political attacks on the wages of greed ever filmed. Centering on three young men—of Polish noble, German immigrant, and Jewish descent—and following closely the progress of their plan to become capitalist mill owners, The Promised Land, based on a controversial turn-of-the-century novel, details aspects of the industrial revolution in Lodz that turned that town into a gruesome carnival of speculation for the rich, and a new kind of hell-on-earth for the poor. Wajda keeps a literary distance that frees his interpretation of sentimentality; he dangles his amoral trio at the end of the lens like absurd toys, granting as little compassion to them as they themselves show for those lives blithely manipulated to feed a monstrous desire.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Wajda, based on the novel by Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont. Photographed by Witold Sobocinski, Edward Klosinski, Waclaw Dybowski. With Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Pszoniak, Andrzej Seweryn, Bozena Dykiel. (168 mins, In Polish with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)