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Man of Marvel: Andrzej Wajda

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
7:00 p.m. Man of Marble
Andrzej Wajda (Poland, 1977)

New Print

Man of Marble was dubbed the European Citizen Kane for its breakneck search for the true story of a cult hero through the relics of his life—one of which is cinema itself. Student filmmaker Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda) chooses for the subject of her first TV documentary a famous bricklaying shockworker of the fifties, Mateusz Birkut. Birkut (Jerzy Radziwilowicz) is an ”official hero” whose portrait waved at the time from government buildings and whose statue now gathers dust in the back room of a gallery. Also somewhat dusty is an old documentary film about Birkut, which Agnieszka examines for clues to the mysterious fate of this man who began as a peasant socialist and became a victim of the manipulation of human potential in the postwar industrialization period. Wajda juxtaposes the fifties and the seventies, integrating footage from Polish newsreels and simulated documentary footage of Birkut into Agnieszka’s quest: to find and record a story well hidden in that footage.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Alexander Scibor-Rylski. Photographed by Edward Klosinski. With Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Krystyna Janda, Tadeusz Lomnicki, Jacek Lomnicki. (153 mins, In Polish with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)