Andrzej Wajda

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Andrzej Wajda (Polish pronunciation: [ˈandʐɛj ˈvajda]; born 6 March 1926) is a Polish film director. Recipient of an honorary Oscar, he is possibly the most prominent member of the unofficial "Polish Film School" (active circa 1955 to 1963). He is known especially for a trilogy of war films: A Generation (1954), Kanał (1956) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958).

Four of his movies have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: The Promised Land (1975), The Maids of Wilko (1979), Man of Iron (1981), and Katyń (2007).


Early life and career

Andrzej Wajda is the son of a Polish cavalry officer murdered by the Soviets in 1940 in what came to be known as the Katyn massacre. After the war, he studied to be a painter at Kraków's Academy of Fine Arts before entering the Łódź Film School.

After his apprenticeship to director Aleksander Ford, Wajda was given the opportunity to direct his own film. With A Generation (1955), the first-time director poured out his disillusionment over jingoism, using as his alter ego a young, James Dean-style antihero played by Zbigniew Cybulski, 20-year-old Roman Polanski also featured. At the same time Andrzej Wajda began his work as a director in theatre, including some fantastic spectacles, like Michael V. Gazzo's Hatful of Rain (1959), Hamlet (1960), Two On a Seesaw (1963) by William Gibson. Wajda made two more increasingly accomplished films, which developed further the anti-war theme of A Generation: Kanał (1956) [Silver Palm at Cannes Festival in 1957, ex equo with Bergman's The Seventh Seal and Ashes and Diamonds (1958), again with Cybulski.

While capable of turning out mainstream commercial fare (often dismissed as "trivial" by his critics), Wajda was more interested in works of allegory and symbolism, and certain symbols (such as setting fire to a glass of liquor, representing the flame of youthful idealism that was extinguished by the war) recur often in his films, the very characteristic of Wajda's symbolism is film Lotna (1959), full of surrealistic and symbolic scenes and shots but he managed to explore some other field of existence making new wave style Innocent Sorcerers (1960) with music by Krzysztof Komeda, starring Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski (who was also a co-script writer) in the episodes. Then Wajda directed Samson (1961), a moving story about Jacob, a Jewish boy, who wants to survive during the Nazi occupation of Poland. In the mid-1960s Wajda showed the world an epic film The Ashes (1965) based on the novel by Polish writer Stefan Żeromski and directed some films abroad: Love at Twenty (1962), Siberian Lady Macbeth (1962) or Gates To Paradise (1968).

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