Essential Cinema: Films of Andrzej Wajda

MAN OF IRON

Directed by Andrzej Wajda

Poland, 1981, 2h 36min, DCP, In Polish with English Subtitles

Essential Cinema  Films of Andrzej Wajda

AFS Cinema

6406 N I-35 Suite 3100 Austin, TX 78752

Showtime

Thu, Oct 18

Wajda’s sense of how political struggle is felt at a human, personal level is at the heart of MAN OF IRON, the director’s second film about Poland’s contemporary worker movements, which earned him both the Cannes Palme D’Or and an Academy Award nomination. The film was even more remarkably timely than MAN OF MARBLE, and was banned in Poland due its harsh critique of the communist government. A newspaper journalist attempts to cover a shipyard workers’ strike for paper that has the government’s interests in mind, and is ultimately seeking to discredit the strikers. When the reporter meets one of the behind the scenes organizers of the strikes, it turns out to be Tomczyk, the son of the famous Stalin-era worker hero from MAN OF MARBLE. In meeting with Tomczyk, the past and present of the workers struggle are brought to light, including the then-current movement for Solidarity—workers’ rights to organize. Flashbacks include footage from then-recent strikes in Poland, and the real-life socialist leader Lech Walesa is featured both in the film’s newsreels as well as in its fictional scenes. The movie’s release happened just after the formation of Polish Solidarity in 1980, and it’s subsequent suppression by the government in 1981, making it a remarkably up-to-date document of current events in Poland for those outside the country. Today’s viewers will find that the immediacy of the political moment is still perfectly captured in this exceptionally layered and powerful film.

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