Jan Laskowski was a cinematographer on films directed by Kawalerowicz and Konwicki. He filmed The Last Day of Summer, Night Train and See You Tomorrow, among others. He was born on 10th February 1928 in Piotrowice (at the time in the Vilnius region), and died on 8th December 2014 in Warsaw.
He has collaborated with such directors as Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Tadeusz Konwicki, Janusz Morgenstern and Jerzy Skolimowski, among others. He contributed to the success of the so-called New Wave of the Polish cinema of the late 50s and 60s. As Konwicki confessed in the book Tadeusz Konwicki: I Remember It Was Hot (2001) by Katarzyna Bielas and Jacek Szczerba:
My strength was built mainly on the genius of Jan Laskowski. I knew that with him by my side I would overcome every obstacle.
Laskowski worked on The Last Day of Summer (1958) directed by Konwicki – the film which gave rise to the ‘New Wave’. Today, Konwicki’s debut feature is considered as one of the masterpieces of post-war European cinema. As its director recalled: ‘actually, we had nothing but the camera’.
After the war he settled in Łódź, where the Leon Schiller State Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre was founded in 1948.
One day, on my way to work, I bought a camera and started taking pictures. On my way to school I saw a poster for the film The Hunchback of Notre Dame and I got hooked on cinema. I saw an announcement for student enrollment on the door of the National Film School. 'Why do you want to study here?' Antoni Bohdziewicz asked me. Because I want to make films like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. 'Well, you're admitted'. That's what my entrance exam looked like.
–he recalled in interviews.
After graduation, in 1955, Laskowski has been working on the production of such works of Polish cinema like Man on the Tracks (1956) by Andrzej Munk, Shadow (1956) Jerzy Kawalerowicz or Farewells (1958), directed by Wojciech Jerzy Has. As a director of photography he debuted in The Last Day of Summer.
The cameraman Paweł Edelman reminisced that 'for us, film school students, the excellent black-and-white images by Laskowski in The Last Day of Summer, See you Tomorrow (1960) and Jowita (1967) were an unattainable ideal.'
Laskowski’s work reveals his inspirations as the aesthetics of Italian neorealism, by means of which he showed the dramas of ordinary people. He sketched rich psychological portraits of characters by using soft, subdued lighting.
I don’t consider my work in film as art. I look for practical solutions which let the camera lens get closer to the truth – that's is the most important thing in cinema for me.
– explained Laskowski.
After the ‘golden years’ of Polish art cinema he worked on such films as, Man – Woman Wanted (1972), What Will You Do When You Catch Me? (1978) directed by Stanisław Bareja, and the musical comedy Halo Szpicbródka, czyli ostatni występ króla kasiarzy (Hello, Fred the Beard, 1978), directed by Janusz Rzeszewski and Mieczysław Jahoda.
He was also the author of screenplays, animated films and documentaries, including Zbyszko (1969), dedicated to the actor Zbigniew Cybulski. 'I liked to create in any genre of cinema', he said.
Souce: press materials, ed. TK, December 2014, transl. GS, August 2015