Jerzy Stefan StawiŃski - Writer

Writer. Nationality: Polish. Born: Zakret, 1 July 1921. Education: Attended law school, graduated. Career: Novelist; 1956—first film as writer, Man on the Track ; 1963—first film as director, No More Divorces ; television work includes the series Wielka milość Balzaka (Balzac's Great Loves) .

Films as Writer:


Czołwiek na torze ( Man on the Track ) (Munk) (co)


Kanał ( The Loved Life ) (Wajda); Eroica (Munk)


Dezerter ( The Deserter ) (Lesiewicz); Zamach ( Answer to Violence ) (Passendorfer)


Zezowate szczęście ( Bad Luck ) (Munk); Krżacy ( The Teutonic Knights ) (Ford) (co)


Historia współczesna ( A Contemporary Story ) (Jakubowska)


"Warszawa" ep. of L'Amour à vingt ans ( Love at Twenty ) (Wajda)


Rozwodów nie bedzie ( No More Divorces ) (+ d)


Pingwin ( The Penguin ) (+ d)


Przedświaeczny wieczór ( Christmas Eve ) (+ co-d); Andremo in città (N. Risi)


Zabijaka (Lenartowicz-for TV); Poczmistrs (Lenartowicz)


Adolphe (Toublanc-Michel + Moal)


Pogon za Adamem ( Chase After Adam ) (Zarzycki)


Kto wierzy w bociany ( Who Believes in the Stork ) (+ co-d)


Godzina szczytu (+ d); Fortuna ( Good Luck ) (Amiradzibi-for TV); Wielka mloso Balzaka ( Balzac's Great Love ) (Solarz—TV series) (co)


Urodziny Matyldy (+ d)


Akcja pod Arsenalem ( Action under Arsenal ) (Lomnicki)


Bilet powrotny (E. & C. Petelscy)


Godzina W (Morgenstern—TV)


Urodziny modego warszawiaka ( Birthday of the Young Inhabitants of Warsaw ) (E. & C. Petelscy); Ojciec królowej (Solarz)


Do oszalalem dla niej ( I Became Mad for Her Sake )


Piec dni z zycla emeryta ( Five Days from the life of a Pensioner )


Obywatel Piszczyk ( Citizen Piszczyk ) (Kotkowski) (co)


Plukownik Kwiatkowski ( Colonel Kwiatkowski ) (Kutz)


By STAWIŃSKI: books—

Światło we mgle , 1952.

Herkulesy , 1953.

Katarzyna , 1955.

Godzina W. Wegrzy Kana , 1956.

Ujcieczka: Casalarga , 1958.

Sześć wcieleń Jana Piszczyka , 1959.

Ojciec królowej (play), 1961.

Pogoń za Adamem , 1963.

Wieczór przedświateczny , 1965.

Godzina szczytu , 1968.

Nie zawijajac do portou , 1970.

Pamiętnik z trzech morz i jednego oceanu , 1973.

I bedziesz miał dom . . . , 1976.

Młodego warszawiaka zapiski z urodzin , 1977.

Notatki scenarzysty (memoirs), 2 vols., 1979.

By STAWIŃSKI: articles—

Film (Warsaw), 3 August 1980.

Film (Warsaw), no. 8, 1985.

Kino (Warsaw), August 1985.

Iluzjon (Warsaw), July-December 1991.

On STAWIŃSKI: articles—

Film Polski (Warsaw), January 1964.

Image et Son (Paris), no. 223, 1968.

Kino (Warsaw), April 1974.

Filmowy Serwis Prasowy (Warsaw), 1–15 January 1978.

Filmowy Serwis Prasowy (Warsaw), 16–30 June 1981.

* * *

Jerzy Stefan Stawiński has three artistic professions: writer, scriptwriter, and film director. From a historical viewpoint, the most important for Polish culture is his scriptwriting, stemming from his literary works which distinctly helped to determine the appearance of "the Polish film school." He started as a writer but the content and themes of his stories and novels resonated with the movement of young new filmmakers, so in 1956 Andrzej Munk filmed Man on the Track from his script on the deformation of contemporary life affected by the personality cult. Later Stawiński cooperated with Munk on two other films, Eroica and Bad Luck . His short story "Kanal," about the trial of a group of freedom-fighters from the Warsaw uprising of 1944, became the basis of the script of the famous film by Andrzej Wajda.

From the beginning of his work in films, Stawiński showed himself to be a brilliant scriptwriter with a special sense for the specifics of film. His scripts have literary value, but to some extent they are left open-ended, therefore leaving space for the director's imagination. As a result he was able to work successfully with directors of completely different artistic signatures, the sober, analytical, rational and ironic Munk or the emotional Wajda. At the same time, he was able to realise through their work his own ideas and communicate his own views.

The point of departure for Stawiński's artistic work was his personal experience of war. An active soldier in the national army, he was a participant in the defeated Warsaw uprising, during which he and his comrades sought the safety of the underground sewers in the same way as the heroes of Kanał . Having exhausted this source to some extent, he moved temporarily on to other projects: for example, he wrote the script based on the historical novel The Teutonic Knights for Aleksander Ford. He enquired into themes of contemporary life, and also several times cooperated on films abroad. He was again reminded of the war towards the end of his artistic career: for example, in the films Action under Arsenal and Birthday of the Young Inhabitants of Warsaw . However, he never appeared in the films he himself directed.

In 1963 Stawiński directed his first film, the comedy No More Divorces . This debut, together with the debut of another writer, Aleksander Ścibor-Rylski, was preceded by the stormy and dramatic discussion which history designated the "revolt of scriptwriters." Both brought out a manifesto in which they criticised the relationship between directors and scriptwriters and expressed their dissatisfaction with the way that texts were treated. They decided as authors to direct their own scripts. It was not the most fortunate of decisions. Stawiński's direction showed a good mastery of craft but brought nothing strikingly new or original. Years later, he revised his views on scriptwriting, directing, and many other things in his two-volume memoirs.

Stawiński has written few scripts during the last fifteen years. In 1988 his script for the film Citizen Piszczyk was filmed. He based this tale of an unlucky person who commands both laughter and compassion on the film Bad Luck directed by Andrzej Munk. Citizen Piszczyk , directed by Andrzej Kotkowski, is less humorous than the original. Loosely filmed from Stawiński's excellent script, it depicts an aging hero unwillingly involved in a conflict with state power.

—B. Urgošíková

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