A director of documentaries and feature films born in Warsaw in 1940.
Antoni Krauze, the brother of director and graphic artist Andrzej Krauze, studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. Between 1958-1961, he worked as an actor with the Student Satirical Theater STS. In 1962 he moved to Łódź and joined the National Academy of Theatre and Film. In 1966 he graduated with a degree in directing from the Łódź film school. Up until 1969, he made films for the Educational Film Studio. His feature debut came in 1969, with the television production Monidło. He has won a number of major prizes, including the Grand Prix of San Remo for Prognoza pogody / The Weather Forcast in 1987.
The 1970s was a time of ups and downs, in which Krauze was frequently labeled as being an author part of the so-called "cinema of moral anxiety". Critic Czesław Dondziłło found in his film's a sense of civic mission and seriousness of tone, a deep skepticism about the existing structures of social life, sensitivity towards any inconsistencies between the official and the private sphere, being prone to believing only what is based on subjective experience, and finally, a longing for authentic values, "not simple ad-hoc compromises and conformism" in films of this trend.
Antoni Krauze began his filmmaking career under the influence of the "small realism" movement - a trend drawn from Polish literature of the 1960s, in which creators reached for topics that were previously avoided including: small towns, suburbs, confined environments, subcultures. This type of literature also had its most notable authors, such as Marek Nowakowski, craftsmen such as Jan Himilsbach or Leszek Plazewski, who were in fact able to capture an authentic glimpse of life of Poland in those times. Antoni Krauze willingly reached for these works for inspiration. It is worth noting that most of Krauze's earlier films (except Podróż do Arabii / A Trip to Arabia, 1979) have their origins in literary works, most of which, in turn, are based on the works of authors writing in the style of "small poetic realism" by such authors as Jan Himilsbach (Monidło, Party przy świecach" / "Party by candlelight, 1980), Leszek Płażewski (Piżama" / "Pajamas, 1971) and Marek Nowakowski (Meta" / "The Pad, 1971, Prognoza pogody" / "The Weather Forecast, 1982), as well as works by Zbigniew Safjan(Strach, 1975) and Tadeusz Zawirucha (Palec Boży" / "The Hand of God, 1973), which were close to the poetic style of the times.
Tadeusz Sobolewski wrote:
The reality in films directed by Krauze is at times dirty and miserable, but it is never a caricature of those times. Krauze talks about issues that are usually perceived as disgusting and are ridiculed in movies in a beautiful manner. People and places appear in his films, full of their ugliness, and without the negative features contained in the image itself, without the satire. (Film 26/1975)
This is due to the fact the director, unlike the critics, understands the term "social margin" in a different way and brings them to the screen using his own particular language. Antoni Krauze looks for goodness in seemingly everyday people and impossible values in their gray and ordinary lives - which are in fact full of drama. Hanna Samsonowska, writing about Meta, Antoni Krauze's second film, a story of ordinary people living modestly in an old house in a district in which comfort nor convenience have not been achieved, notes that this film has a special beauty:
That which would seem a paradox, given that there are no great heroes or attractive interiors and landscapes, nor a great idea that animates the form of drama. It holds the peculiar charm and dreariness of daily life sorrow and harmony (yes!) the days that monotonously go by. (Kino 2/81)
Solid observations, an eye for detail, the language and the ability to draw a narrative background are the realistic sides of Krauze's films, which characterize all his works. His films, however, are not warm, full of sympathy and affection plotted pictures. The director himself, following his first television film, stated:
I was able to include some partial truth about these people in my films their behaviour and manners. These are micro-observations, closed within the so-called small realism. I would want to break these boundaries in the future, to reach a deeper truth about human life. (Film 40/71)
And he accomplished that with his earlier films of the 1970s, such as The Hand of God and Na wylot / Through and Through written and directed by Bogdan Krolikiewicz - and later in A Trip to Arabia or Dziewczynka z hotelu Excelsior / Little Girl from the Hotel Excelsior (1988).
Bolesław Michałek perceived the link between this film and earlier ones, also noting that:
The surface of the film shows [...] a layer of 'marginal culture', including descriptions of environments such as the social landscape – people wandering between train station bars and terrible housing, blowsy, unaware of what to expect from life, equipped with only a sense of bitter defeat. But in this outer layer of reality, there are situations and entire sequences that [...] grab you by the throat. [...] We pass by imperceptibly from the ordinary, trivial, everyday situations - to events based on logic, seen through different eyes. Like blood dripping into a glass of red wine from the ceiling this is madness. (Kino 8 /1973)
The second source of incompatibility between the hero is in the hero himself, the greed for life, work and towards people. Antoni Krauze himself said that people like the hero in The Hand of God only cause trouble.
They do not agree with the opinions of others, are dissatisfied with their fate, bring ferment. [...] The unsuitability of my film character may be described due to his enormous strength, passion, with which he is trying to break into life, and in turn participate in with his entire self. While our cool, typical, practical life-sense, usually does not require such people. (Polska, 12/1971)
It must be associated with Krauze's views on the human condition in general. In the same text, he explained that the concept of human fate formulated by Joseph Conrad gained increasing significance for him through his career and led the director to recognise some existential truths:
A person is born in suffering, lives in suffering and dies suffering [...] but despair, complaints, and sobbing are no way out for us. It is important to preserve dignity, and fight to the end [...] to treat it as an opportunity. Great pessimism - consciously - is also optimistic.
He called The Hand of God a film about searching, not fulfillment, about a hero who appeared good for nothing, but who is a hero nonetheless.
Films based on these types of individual characters created by Antoni Krauze accounted for in his greatest achievements during the Gierek period of prosperity and the Carnival of "Solidarity" (though we cannot forget that during the period of martial law, one of his best films was produced - The Weather Forecast, 1982.) This is the moment when people seem to think that luck is on your doorstep. But it is only an illusion. Krauze talks about this illusion in one of his works, which is the only one of his films, which is not an adaptation from literature, yet, certainly a very personal work, A Trip to Arabia.
Bożena Janicka wrote that A Trip to Arabia talks about the real destructive power which man carries in himself, which may even be values spinning against him: "Demons from Krauze's film have very innocent names, capable of deceiving anyone: the need for love, the gift of compassion, sensitivity, kindness, altruism" (Film 21/80). Jolanta Sarnecka noted that Anna from A Trip to Arabia and Tadeusz, the hero in The Hand of God, undergo a similar change "from rebellion to resignation and reconciliation" ("FSP" 14/80).
One cannot assign the theme of "resigning from all your dreams" to Krauze's work as a whole. The film (The Weather Forecast), based on the wave of Solidarity protests, defies this notion. It is about fleeing residents of a nursing home. A breath of freedom, which the residents feel, for some the one and only - can be compared to the breath of freedom experienced by Polish society during the 16 months of freedom between 1980 and 1981. This film, with a collective hero, is an exception in Krauze's works. However his next movie, A Little Girl from the Hotel Excelsior (1988), like in all of his films with an individual hero, tells of a dream, a dream which materialises while the main character remains at the seaside.
While watching this film, one can't help but draw attention to what makes Antoni Krauze's filmmaking different as compared to other productions. It's about the ability to connect meticulously treated realities with what is fiction - whether the product of a sick imagination as in The Hand of God or the result of dreams as in A Little Girl.... Krauze is also able to tell a story where we never quite know whether what is happening on screen is in the world we are in, or a different world, even in such a feeble story as the A Little Girl from the Hotel Excelsior written by Eustachy Rylski which begins to shine a different light on screen.
As Jan Słodowski wrote,
The realism of events intertwines in the film with a phantasmagoria of Arcadia to the extent that it is difficult to separate them from one other. Transitions between reality and dreams are very smooth - pull in the hero and the spectator, like a gulf, into an extraordinary world of fantasy and originality and the detailed description of the resort-world becomes a universal reflection on life.
Another feature typical of Krauze's pictures is the artistic dimension. Critics have pointed it out - Bożena Janicka in Kino 2 /84 and Bogdan Zagroba in Film 1/84 when discussing The Weather Forecast and singling it out as a film of great cinematographic beauty.
Still, Krauze does not let himself get pigeonholed - he has made several documentary films, along with the spy flick Akwarium / The Aquarium in 1995) and a thriller titled Strach / Fear. It seems that what links these seemingly different movies, is the ability to penetrate the human psyche, to get into the mental state of his characters, whether it be a driver from Strach, an unfulfilled actor in The Hand of God, a frustrated heroine in the film A Trip to Arabia, maybe an officer of the Soviet secret police in Aquarium, or finally the heroes prevailing in his biographical documentaries. Krauze has the ability to tell stories about human fate and the psychological portrait, with a deep respect for the hero. He is curious about the person's uniqueness, even if the given character is one of many.
When reviewing the film Jan Zachwatowicz and Tadeusz Szyma wrote that
An opportunity for the creator of a documentary always comes the biographical approach, which allows you to give justice to the hero of the film, objectify his achievements, yet emphasise the uniqueness of this particular person. (Kino 12/2000)
In 2011 the director realised one of his most popular films: Black Thursday. It tells the story of the massacre which happened in December 1970 in Tricity. In Gdańsk and Gdynia the soldiers and the milicia started an open fire that killed a number of defenceless people.
Returning to one of the darkest moments in the history of PRL, Krauze focused on the story of Brunon Dryw, one of the victims of the violent pacification, who was killed by accident on December 17 1970. He shows the family of the shipyard worker - his wife Stefania and their three children. Their private drama has been confronted with precisely arranged scenes of mass manifestations and with archival materials.
This moving, well constructed was very well received both by the critics and the cinema audience.
Krauze is interested in the mysterious force of the collective. Even if there is pathos in its portrayal, it is a pure, noble pathos. That is why the bloody flag carried in one of the scenes doesn't give the impression of being a fake symbol of a nation's suffering - wrote Łukasz Muszyński on Filmweb.
Zdzisław Pietrasik reviewed the film for Polityka weekly:
Jacek Petrycki's cinematography is great: the images are darkened, grey, they underline the dark subject of the movie, but at the same time there is a logical explanation: the movie takes place in the shortest days of the year, when there is little light. It was a good idea to cast little known actors in the main roles - Michał Kowalski and Marta Honzatko are very convincing.
In 2011 Krauze's film won the Special Jury Award at the Gdynia Film Festival and the FIPRESCI award at the Montreal film festival. It was also noticed at festivals in Minsk, Chicago, Moscow and Łagów, and Michał Lorenc won the Polish Film Award Orzeł for Best Score.
In 2016 Krauze's last, most controversial film, hit the screens. Smoleńsk - a drama with elements of thriller and catastrophical movie - told the story of a journalist (Beata Fido), who searches for the truth about the Smolensk catastrophe. She starts an investigation to learn what happened and why did the Polish president Lech Kaczyński and 97 other people died.
Film was realized between 2013 and 2016 and the premiere was belated because of financing problems. The producer of the film is Maciej Pawlicki, and the funds were raised from sponsors and granters by the Smoleńsk 2010 foundation. The filming started in 2014, and the premiere took place on September 9th 2016.
- 1963 - Igraszki, co-directed with David Williamson and Feridun Erol, animated short
- 1964 - Licytacja, direction, short fiction film
- 1964 - Za parawanem, direction, short documentary
- 1965 - Pytam czy przegrałeś, direction, short fiction film
- 1967 - Grzesiek, direction and screenplay, short fiction film.
- 1966 - Skok" / "The Leap, co-directed with (Edward Bernstein, Bogdan Dziworski and Zygmunt Samosiuk) for the Educational Film Studios
- 1967 - Można lądować" / "Landing Permitted, direction and screenplay. A filmed report from the Warsaw Okęcie Airport. For WFO
- 1967 - W niedzielę" / "On Sunday, direction and screenplay. Sunday factory tours. For WFO
- 1967 - Konflikty" / "Conflicts, co-written and directed with Joanna Krauze. About the Social Work conciliation commissions. For WFO
- 1968 - Cudów nie ma" / "Miracles Don't Exist, direction, co-written with Joanna Krauze. The problem of evasion of young people from working. For WFO
- 1990 - Co się należy prawdzie" / "What is Owed to Truth, direction. Awards: 1991 - The International Catholic Film Festival, Niepokalanów, the second prize in the documentary film category
- 1991 - Czyny i rozmowy, direction. The portrait of a criminal
- 1993 - Wysłannik" / "The Emissary, direction and screenplay, biographical. About the bohemian character, Jacek Baluch
- 1994 - Pisarz" / "The Writer, direction and screenplay, biographical. The portrait of writer Witold Zalewski
- 1995 - Preisner czyli droga do sukcesu" / "Preisner, or the Path to Success, direction, biographical. The Portrait of composer Zbigniew Preisner
- 1997 - Układanie życia" / "Arranging Life, direction and screenplay, biographical. The portrait of the writer Witold Woroszylski
- 1998 - Szwed z 'Wesela' czyli niezdrowo i romantycznie, direction and screenplay, biographical. The portrait of Swedish poet and translator Anders Bodegard. Awards: 1999 - National Short Film Festival, Kraków, "Bronze Horse" for his screenplay
- 1998 - Życie wewnętrzne, czyli hobby" / "Internal Life, or , A Hobby, direction, co-written with Sławomir Kowalewski. Portrait of the artist - amateur Franciszek Adamiak, a tailor. Awards: 1999 at the National Short Film Festival, Kraków, special "Bronze Horse" prize
- 1999 - Idąc, spotykając..." / "Going, Meeting, direction and screenplay, biographical. The portrait of director Stanisław Różewicz
- 1999 - Oczami cenzora" / "Through the Eye of the Censor, direction and screenplay. A film dedicated to photographs captured during the communist period by CAF and censorship photo-journalists. Saved images and attitudes of their authors
- 2000 - Jan Zachwatowicz 1900-1983, direction and screenplay, biographical. The portrait of architect Jan Zachwatowicz
- 2000 - Wyzwoleni" / "Liberated, direction, screenplay by Marek Nowakowski. A three-part documentary – three stories of people and their so-called survival of the Polish liberation by the Red Army, which actually meant a new slavery
- 2001 - Dlatego zrobiłem film" / "Why I Made a Film, direction and screenplay, biographical. The portrait of a documentary director Bohdan Kosiński
- 2001-2002 - Piwnica" / "The Cellar, direction and screenplay. A one hour and three hour movie devoted to the Kraków cabaret called - Piwnica pod Baranami
- 2003 - W jednym o przyjaźni, miłości i śmierci Janiny Garyckiej, direction and screenplay, biographical. Portrait of Janina Garycka, companion of Piotr Skrzynecki and co-founder of Piwnica pod Baranami. Awards: 2004 - National Short Film Festival, Kraków, Kino Polska TV prize and TV Autocom, Kraków Film Festival, Kraków, Jury subscribers "Planete" prize
- 2004 - Ćwiczenia z niepamięci, direction and screenplay, biographical. The portrait of the director Janusz Morgenstern
- 2004 - Do potomnego" / "To the Future Generation, direction and screenplay, fictionalized documentary. A collective portrait of the "generation of Columbus' five poets: Tadeusz Gajcy, Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński, Zdzisław Stroiński, Wacław Bojarski and Andrzej Trzebiński, in the narration of Witold Zalewski, a writer, who could have been one of the victims of the uprising, as the only reader of Gajcy's works
- 2004 - STS, direction and screenplay. A film about the history of the Satirical Student Theatre.
- 2005 - Nie wiem jak to się skończy" / "I don't know how it will end, direction and screenplay. About a bar called "Wetlina" in Warsaw on the Służew Dolinka and its young owners
- 2005 - Radość pisania" / "Joy Of Writing, direction and screenplay, biographical. A portrait of the poet Wisława Szymborska.
- 1969 - Monidło, direction and screenplay, TV film, based on the novel by Jan Himilsbach "Monidło". A humorous story about a visit to one of the residents of a small town, the author of these portraits painted from photographs
- 1971 - Meta, direction, screenplay by Marek Nowakowski, TV film. Two classmate friends (one working honestly, having problems, the other, a blue bird) – a school reunion ends with the escorting of a colleague, who slowly begins to play the role of master of the house, taking the place of the father and husband. The film sat on a shelf for 9 years, and was shown only on the wave of solidarity in 1980. Awards: 1981 - 8 Polish Film Festival, Gdańsk, special jury prize
- 1971 - Piżama" / "Pajamas, direction and screenplay, TV film based on the story written by Leszkek Płażewski called Piżama. A young couple in a workers hotel. The wife comes to the conclusion that the social status of their marriage will rise because of her husband's pyjama which he wears at night
- 1972 - Palec Boży" / "Hand of God, direction, screenplay written with: Tadeusz Zawierucha
A feature film based on the novel by Tadeusz Zawierucha called Selekcja" / "Selection. The story of a young man from the provinces who sets out to fulfill his greatest passion - become an actor. The failure and tragedy of one of his actor friends, an amateur, cannot compel him to give up the fight, not only to fulfill his dreams. Awards: 1973 - Andrzej Munk Prize granted by PWSTTviF, Youth and Film Awards in Koszalin, Journalists' Award, Prize for best screenplay at Jantar 73, 1974 - Locarno, Silver Leopard - Second Prize, 6th Lubuskie Film Summer in Łagów, Coordinating Council Art Studio Cinemas Award - Special Jury Prize
- 1975 - Strach, direction, screenplay written by Zbigniew Safjan
A feature film based on the novel by Zbigniew Safjan Strach
An ex-criminal investigates a crime, while getting to know the true face of the town. Awards: 1975 - San Sebastian, prize for best directing debut CIDALC
- 1976 - Zaklęty dwór" / "The Haunted Mansion, direction, screenplay written by Andrzej Wydrzyński
TV series based on the story by Walery Łoziński called Zaklęty dwór. A film about the secret preparations for a revolution in a supposedly deserted manor. An action film, with a hint of a thriller.
- 1979 - Podróż do Arabii, direction and screenplay.
A psychological feature film. Anna cannot decide whether to go with her husband to Iraq. The reason is, among others, the unreciprocated love towards her of a boy, whom she tries to help. The complicated relations between the woman and the boy and a dream of happiness, become the front end of a trip to Arabia
- 1980 - Party przy świecach" / "Party by Candelight, television movie - direction, screenplay by Jan Himilsbach
Based on the story of Jan Himilsbach Party przy świecach / Party by candlelight. Two families are seeking to create a semblance of their wealth and success. A funny story that ends with the detection of this mystification
- 1981 - Stacja" / "The Station, direction, screenplay by Władysław Terlecki. TV film based on the story written by Władysław Terlecki called Zamieć
- 1982 - Prognoza pogody" / "The Weather Forecast, direction and screenplay. A feature film based on a story written by Marek Nowakowski Zdarzenie w miasteczku. A film about nursing home residents fleeing after hearing the news of the transport of large quantities of coffins. Awards: 1987 - International Festival of Auteur Films, San Remo, Grand Prix, Special Youth Jury Prize
- 1988 - Dziewczynka z hotelu Excelsior" / "Little Girl in the Hotel Excelsior, direction, screenplay by Eustachy Rylski. An adaptation feature film of the story by Eustachy Rylski. A psychological film about the vacation of a married couple - Jan and Barbara in a marine resort. It is about people moving away from each other and searching for something else unknown, which appears in a twelve-year girl named Inte
- 1995 - Akwarium" / "Aquarium, direction, screenplay co-written with Jan Purzycki, a spy film, based on the novel by Viktor Suvorov called "Aquarium". The story of a man who was a spy, but due to moral reasons, risks treason of the so-called service. Followed up by a four-part television series based on the sensational novel by Viktor Suvorov.
- 2010 - Czarny Czwartek / Black Thursday direction. A film about the anti-government demonstrations in Gdańsk in the early 1980s.
- 2016 - Smoleńsk - a film about a journalist chasing the truth about the catastrophe that took place in Smolensk on April 10 2010.
Written by Jan Strękowski, April 2008. Translated by Roberto Galea, January 2011; updated by NMR, September 2016.