Daniel Olbrychski - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: Polish. Born: Lowicz, 27 February 1945. Education: Attended the School of Drama, Warsaw, graduated 1971. Family: Married, one son: Rafał. Career: 1964—film debut in Ranny v lesie ; 1970—in title role of stage production of Hamlet ; 1978—appeared in the Peter Handke play Die Unvernünftigen sterben aus in Nanterre, France; 1987—in TV mini-series The Secret of the Sahara . Awards: Bronze Lion of Gdansk, for The Deluge , 1974; Chevalier de l'Order des Arts et des Lettres, France.

Films as Actor:


Ranny v lesie ( The Wounded in the Forest ) (Nasfeter) (as Lieutenant)


Popioły ( Ashes ) (Wajda) (as Rafal)


Potem nastpi cisza ( The Silence Will Reign ) (Morgenstern); Bokser ( The Boxer ) (Dziedzina) (title role)


Jowita ( Jovita ) (Morgenstern) (as Marc Arens); Małżeństwo z rozsądki (Bareja)


Hrabina Cosel (Antczak)


Pan Wołodyjowski ( Colonel Wolodyjowski ) (Hoffman) (as Azja); Polowanie na muchy ( Hunting Flies ) (Wajda); Skok ( Bank Robbery ) (Kutz); Wszystko na sprzedaż ( Everything for Sale ) (Wajda) (as Daniel); Struktura kryształu (Zanussi); Różaniec z granatow (Rutliewicz)


Brzezina ( The Birch-wood ) (Wajda); Egy Barany ( Angel of Death ) (Jancso); Krajobraz po bitwie ( Landscape after the Battle ) (Wajda) (as Tadeusz); La Pacifista (Jancso); Sól ziemi czarnej ( The Salt of This Black Earth ) (Kutz)


Życie rodzinne ( Family Life ) (Zanussi) (as Wit); Liberation (Ozierow); "Poslednii chturm" ep. of Osvobojdienie (Ozierow)


Wesele ( The Wedding ) (Wajda) (as bridegroom); Roma rivuole Cesare ( Rome Wants Another Cacsar ) (Jancso) (as Claudius)


Potop ( The Deluge ) (Hoffman)


Pilatus und andere—ein Film für Karfreitag ( Pilate and Others ) (Wajda—for TV) (as Matthew the Levite); Ziema obiecana ( The Promised Land ) (Wajda) (as Karol Borowiecki)


Dagny (Sandoy) (as Przybyszewski); Zdjęcia próbne (Holland, Kędzierski, and Domaraddzki)


Panny z Wilka ( The Young Ladies from Wilko ) (Wajda) (as Wiktor Ruben); Die Blechtrommel ( The Tin Drum ) (Schlöndorff) (as Jan Bronski)


Kung-Fu (Kijowski); Wizja lokalna 1901 ( Inspection of the Crime Scene 1901 ) (Bajon)


Les Uns et les autres ( Bolero ) (Lelouch) (as Karl); La Derelitta (Igoux)


Roza (Christofis); Przgody pana Michala (Komorowski)


Si j'avais mille ans (Enkell); La Truite ( The Trout ) (Losey) (as Saint-Genis)


La Diagonale du fou ( Dangerous Moves ) (Dembo) (as Tac-Tac); Casablanca, Casablanca (Nuti); Elakoon Itsemurhaaja (Jasny); Lieber Karl (Knilli) (as teacher)


Der Bulle und das Mädchen ( The Cop and the Girl ) (Keglevic) (as Fritz); O-bi, O-bi—Koniec cywilizacji ( O-bi, O-bi—The End of Civilization ; Ga, Ga—chwala bohaterom ) (Szulkin); Mariage blanc (Kassovitz); Le Monde desert (Beuchot); Music Hall (Bluwal); Pad Italje ( The Fall of Italy ) (Zafranovic); Eine Liebe in Deutschland ( A Love in Germany ) (Wajda) (as Wiktorczyk)


Objection (Trzos-Rastawiecki) (as Grzegorz); Rosa Luxemburg (von Trotta) (as Leo Jogiches); Siekierezada ( Axiliad ) (Leszczynski) (as Katny)


Mosca addio (Bolognini) (as Yuli); Teleftaio Stichima (Zirnis)


The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kaufman) (as Interior Ministry Official); Notturno (Lehner); Dekalog 3 (Kieślowski—for TV)


L'Orchestre rouge (Rouffio) (as Giering); Bugiarda (Giraldi); La Boutique de l'orfever (as Adam)


Le Silence d'ailleurs (Mouyal)


Das Lange Gespräch mit dem Vogel (Zanussi—for TV) (as Angelo)


Ivan and Abraham (as Stepan); Kolejnosc uczuc ( Sequence of Feelings ) (Piwowarski) (as Rafal Nawrot); Jobb Szepnek es Gazdagnak Lenni ( Better to Be Pretty and Rich ) (Bajon)


Transatlantis (as Neuffer); Bastard (as Geza); Pestka (Janda) (as Borys); Pestka ( The Pip ) (Janda) (as Borys)


Truck Stop (Muschner); Dzieje mistrza Twardowskiego (Gradowski); Dzieci I ryby (Bromski); Hommes, femmes, mode d'emploi ( Men, Women: A User's Manual ) (Lelouch)


Szökés ( Escape ) (Gyarmathy)


Sibirskij tsiryulnik ( The Barber of Siberia ) (Mikhalkov) (as Kopnovsky); Il Figlio di Sandokan (Eastman, Mamolo—mini for TV)


Ogniem I mieczem ( With Fire and Sword ) (Jerzy Hoffman) (as Tuhaj-Bej); Pan Tadeusz (Wajda) (as Gerwazy)


By OLBRYCHSKI: articles—

"Rozmowa z Danielem Olbrzychskim," interview with A. Markowski, in Kino (Warsaw), October 1974.

Interview with J. Frenais, in Cinéma (Paris), April 1978.

"Daniel Olbrychski," interview with M. Martin, in Ecran (Paris), November 1979.

Interview with J. Bruller, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), March 1980.

Interview, in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), October/November 1982.

"Khochu pozvonit; Vaide noch'iu," interview with I. Rubanova, in Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 12, 1996.

On OLBRYCHSKI: articles—

Erdmann, L., "Daniel Olbrychski," in Filmwissenschaftliche Beitrage (Berlin), vol. 17, no. 2, 1976.

Filmowy Serwis Prasowy (Warsaw), 1–15 June 1981.

"Daniel Olbrychski in Profile," in Polish Film (Warsaw), no. 2, 1988.

Tabecki, J., "Daniel Olbrychski. Czlowiek sukcesu," in Iluzjon (Warsaw), January/June 1990.

Film Dope (Nottingham), June 1993.

* * *

The acting career of Daniel Olbrychski took shape under the influence of the great legend of Polish cinematography—the actor Zbigniew Cybulski. In 1967, Cybulski died in a tragic accident and thus their lives crossed only briefly: once they were acting partners in the same film ( Jowita ). In spite of this, Olbrychski's artistic career will be long compared and measured by the value of his older colleague, and rightly so. In spite of all that separates them, they have much in common: above all tremendous popularity, evoked by common aspirations, ideas, opinions, and moods of their generations.

Olbrychski debuted while still a student at the Theatrical University in The Wounded in the Forest , directed by Janusz Nasfeter. Foreshadowing future great performances, he played the role of a young lieutenant, captivating the audience with his appearance—slim, fair-haired, cherubic, and radiating youth, intellect, and emotionality. The destiny of a new acting personality of the Polish film was confirmed and in the next year he replaced Cybulski in the film Ashes . During his studies, Olbrychski acted in some other films while polishing his acting technique. Since then he has contributed a whole series of film characters to the Polish cinema.

Olbrychski does not represent an invariable type; he can convincingly play both contemporary and period roles. His heroes are energetic men of action, rejecting stability and security for a life full of reversals, dynamics, and surprises (there exist, naturally, exceptions). Olbrychski plays them with discipline, without effects, in a concentrated and sometimes even reserved manner. This is one of the most noticeable features of his acting method. His relation to the character played suggests a certain aloofness, reserve, inner inaccessibility, and insubordination. The Polish film critic and historian Kryzysztof Teodor Toeplitz expressed this aptly: "When Olbrychski plays a boxer, the suspicion arises in us that he is not a real boxer and that what he really is will remain a secret for us." This approach presents itself in its purest form in Wajda's Everything for Sale (dedicated to the memory of Cybulski), in which Olbrychski in a complicated way resolves the legend of his predecessor and finds his own way.

In other works this quality is less apparent but still present. In Wajda's The Wedding he plays the role of a bridegroom which at a glance differs from all his previous roles. The bridegroom in his interpretation is unusually merry and happy; but gradually the actor lets the spectator peer beneath the surface of this happiness. From the merriment, disquiet and alienation emerge, linking him with the heroes from earlier films. Olbrychski's temperament explodes in The Deluge whose hero is endowed with such vitality that the film was accepted as an excellent study of Polish national character, with all its positive and negative aspects.

In the 1970s a new feature appeared in Olbrychski's acting that is connected with his artistic and human ripening and with acquiring new experiences. We find it for the first time in Wajda's The Promised Land where this dynamic, explosive actor metamorphosizes before our eyes into a sober, matter-of-fact man who, after a youth full of inspiration and enthusiasm, accepts in cold blood the cruel rules of play of his milieu. The roles in his subsequent films continue to be marked by this skepticism.

Since the beginning of the 1970s Olbrychski has acted in the films of both well-known and beginning European directors. The number of parts and different characters he has played is impressive: in the historical fresco Die Blechtrommel , based on Günther Grass's novel, he plays the part of a potential father of an undersized hero, Jan Bronski; in Pad Italje he portrays a partisan commander who because of his love for a girl from a rich family loses the trust of his comradesin-arms; in Von Trotta's biographical Rosa Luxemburg he tackles the role of the co-founder of Polish Social Democracy. Even though Olbrychski has tasted success abroad, when offered a part in a Polish film, he never turns his countrymen down. In so doing, he takes on a range of contemporary, historical, dramatic, and even comedic roles.

In his advancing years, he is no longer a youngster with a cherub's face, nor is he a romantic hero. In his actor's biography this change is sharply documented by his part in Radosław Piwowarski's Chronology of Sentiments . Olbrychski plays with great charm an aging lady-killer, who in spite of his age charms and sweeps a young girl off her feet. Olbrychski continues to act on the stage and he has received a number of theater and film awards, including the Chevalier de l'Order des Arts et des Lettres from France. His son Rafał follows in his steps, appearing with him in Pan Twardowski .

—Blažena Urgošíková

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