(Man of Marble)
Director: Andrzej Wajda
Production: Enterprise de Realization de Films: Ensembles Cinematographiques and Ensemble X; Eastmancolor, 35mm; running time: 160 minutes. Released February 1977, Warsaw. Filmed in Poland; documentary sequences were provided by the Archives des Actualites, Cinematographiques Polonaises.
Producer: Andrzej Wajda; screenplay: Aleksander Scibor-Rylski; photography: Edward Kłosinski; editors: Halina Pugarowa and Maria Kalinciska; sound operator: Piotr Zawadski; production designers: Allan Starski; Wojciech Majda, and Maria Osiecka-Kuminek; music: Andrzej Korzyński, songs performed by the group Ali Babki and the Groupe Instrumental; costume designers: Lidia Rzeszewska and Wieslawa Konopelska.
Cast: Jerzy Radziwilowicz ( Mateusz Birkut and his son Maciek Tomcyzyk ); Michal Tarkowski ( Wincenty Witek ); Krystyna Zachwatowicz ( Hanka Tomczyk ); Piotr Cieślak ( Michalak ); Wieslaw Wojcik ( Jodia ); Krystyna Janda ( Agnieszka ); Tadeusz Lomnicki ( Jerzy Burski ); Jacek Lomnicki ( Young Burski ); Leonard Zajaczkowski ( Leonard Frybos ); Jacek Domanski ( Sound Man ); Grzegorz Skurski ( Chauffeur/Lighting man ); Magda Teresa Wojcik ( Editor ); Boguslaw Sobczyk ( TV Writer ); Zdzislaw Kozien ( Agnieszka's father ); Irena Laskowska ( Museum employee ); Jerzy Moniak ( Moniak ); Wieslaw Drzewicz ( Manager of the restaurant ); Kazmierz Kaczor ( Security man ); Eva Zietek ( Secretary ); B. Fronczkowiak ( Official from the Ministry of the Interior ).
Awards: Prix de la Critique International, Cannes Film Festival, 1978.
Scibor-Rylski, Alexander, Czlowiek z marmuru, Czlowiek z zelaza (in Polish), London, 1982; also published in French ( L'Homme de marbre ) in Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), 15 January 1980.
Douin, Jean-Luc, Wajda , Paris, 1981.
Paul, David W., editor, Politics, Art, and Commitment in the Eastern European Cinema , New York, 1983.
Wajda, Andrzej, Un Cinéma nommé désir , Paris, 1986.
Wajda, Andrezej, Double Vision: My Life in Film , New York, 1989.
Falkowska, Janina, The Political Films of Andrzej Wajda: Dialogism in "Man of Marble," "Man of Iron," and "Danton," New York, 1996.
Bajer, L., in Kino (Warsaw), May 1977.
Holloway, D., in Variety (New York), 1 June 1977.
Keller, R., in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), no. 7, 1978.
Demeure, J., and H. Niogret, interview with Wajda, in Positif (Paris), October 1978.
Thirard, Paul-Louis, in Positif (Paris), November 1978.
Fargier, Jean-Paul, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1978.
Dawson, Jan, in Sight and Sound (London), no. 4, 1979.
Interview with Wajda, in Ecran (Paris), no. 1, 1979.
Quart, Leonard, in Cineaste (New York), no. 4, 1979.
Konicek, Ryszard, in International Film Guide 1979 , edited by Peter Cowie, London, 1979.
Linehart, R., "L'Homme de marbre et de celluloid," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), March 1979.
Canby, Vincent, in New York Times , 17 March 1979.
Amengual, Barthélemy, "L'Homme (de marbre) est le capital le plus precieux, pensait planov," in Positif (Paris), June 1979.
De Benedictus, in Bianco e Nero (Rome), September-December 1979.
Ruf, R., in Medium (Frankfurt), October 1979.
Pap, P., in Filmkultura (Budapest), November-December 1979.
Vrdlovec, Z., in Ekran (Ljubljana), no. 4, 1980.
"Wajda Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), 15 January 1980.
Torres, Fernandez, A., in Contracampo (Madrid), February 1980.
Nissen, D., in Kosmorama (Copenhagen), October 1980.
Dossier on Wajda, in Image et Son (Paris), December 1980.
Bickley, D., and L. Rubinstein, "Between the Permissible and the Impermissible: An Interview with Andrzej Wajda," in Cineaste (New York), Winter 1980–81.
Abrahamson, K. A., in Chaplin (Stockholm), no. 5, 1981.
New York Times , 23 January 1981.
Newsweek (New York), 9 February 1981.
Fox, G., "Men of Wajda," in Film Criticism (Edinboro, Pennsylvania), Fall 1981.
Cohen, Joan, in Magill's Cinema Annual , Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1982.
DiCaprio, L., "Polish Films and Politics," in Jump Cut (Berkeley), July 1982.
Lewis, Cliff, and Carroll Britch, "Light Out of Poland: Wajda's Man of Marble and Man of Iron ," in Film and History (Newark, New Jersey), December 1982.
Janicka, Bozena, in Film (Poland), 18 November 1984.
Sobolewski, T., "Cierpiacy posag," in Kino (Warsaw), August 1989.
Jankun, M., and B. Dopart, "Barwy ochronne albo kazdemu, co mu sie nalezy," in Kino (Warsaw), December 1989.
Della Casa, S., "Amnesia land: il cinema del dimenticare," in Ikon (Milan), October 1990.
Koltai, A., "A versailles-i fattyu," in Filmvilag (Budapest), no. 2, 1990.
Maland, C., "Memories and Things Past: History and Two Biographical Flashback Films," in East-West Film Journal (Honolulu), vol. 6, no. 1, 1992.
Janicka, B., in Kino (Warsaw), July/August 1995.
Cade, M., "Wajda historien du present," in Les Cahiers de la Cinematheque (Perpignan), no. 67, December 1997.
* * *
After many successful and mature historical films, describing different crucial moments of the fate of the Polish, and many screen versions of famous literary pieces, Andrzej Wajda, in Man of Marble , succeeded in creating nearly as great and important a work as his Ashes and Diamonds. Man of Marble is a success rooted in the spirit of the actual moment when it appeared, a critical film for understanding Poland's difficult situation in the 1980s.
The film is the story of a student, Agnieszka, who wants to make her graduation film about a former "exemplary worker" of the late Stalin years. Being a modern, bright and courageous girl, she is astonished at the many obstacles and difficulties she has to overcome in order to learn the whole truth about the forgotten idol. Many who had previously worked with him are currently successful, but not eager to recall the past. The television managers even intervene in order to stop her. At the end, Agnieszka does manage to present the complete biography of the man.
The forgotten hero, Mateusz Birkut, was a peasant boy who went to the city, like millions of youngsters during the 1950s, in order to earn his bread. Birkut was lucky enough to catch the eye of an ambitious filmmaker, who decided to make Birkut a legend and a star. During the Stalinistic epoch, a star could only be a perfect worker; and Birkut became such through the invisible help of his fellow workers who remained anonymous. His problems occurred when he himself began to believe in his own importance. He interfered in various political activities in a way that his bosses never anticipated. He disappeared from view, and his image and memory were brutally degraded. He eventually died, though no one knew when and how.
Wajda manages in this story, masterfully written by Aleksander Scibor-Rylski, to paint a very detailed, ambivalent and strongly emotional picture of the development of his country during the last 30 years, and to portray two generations—fathers and sons—who formed the socialist system in Poland.
The structure of the film is rather sophisticated. Wajda here renounces the use of visual symbols, so typical of his usual style. He replaces the symbols with documentation—chronicles and news items—from the period; his narrative structure consists of three parallel stories, each of them taking place in a different historical time.
In spite of this complicated form, the film enjoyed an enormous audience success. One of the aims of the socialist culture is to educate people to understand an art which participates in the life and the problems of society. The artists themselves, in this case Wajda, feel themselves obliged to function as the consciousness of their compatriots, while at the same time presenting to them refined, aesthetic works.
For all the negative events shown in the film Wajda declares himself to be among the responsible. The character of Burski, the filmmaker in Man of Marble who gained prominence with his film on Birkut and later became a world renowned Polish artist, is a conscious allusion to Wajda himself. Wajda continues today to ask the question: Is the cinema something more than just a creator of myths?