One of Poland’s most famous actress of the 60s and 70s, known for her roles in Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s Night Train and Mother Joan of the Angels, the actress died at the age of 85 on the 22nd of January 2013.
One of Poland’s most famous actress of the 60s and 70s, known for her roles in Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s Night Train and Mother Joan of the Angels, the actress died at the age of 85 on the 22nd of January 2013. Lucyna Winnicka was born on the 14th of July 1928 in Warsaw.
Portraying Marta in Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s 1959 film Pociąg / The Night Train (Special Mention at the Venice International Film Festival) and the protagonist of his award-winning 1960 film Mother Joan of the Angels (Silver Palm Special Jury Award at the Cannes IFF, Film Critics' Award at the Panama IFF), up to 1968 Winnicka played in almost all of her husband’s films.
Before she decided to study acting, Winnicka graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Warsaw (1950). She graduated from the Warsaw Theatre Academy in 1953. She had her debut in his 1954 film Pod gwiazdą frygijską / Under the Phrygian Star. Altogether she appeared in 21 films between 1954 and 1978. In a statement for the Polish Press Agency, film historian Tadeusz Lubelski portrayed Winnicka as the opposite of "the eccentricity and explicitly" of some of today’s actresses, "It was her mysterious femininity that shone through all of the very different films she appeared in".
Talking about the actress to the Polish Press Agency, the film critic and editor in chief of the monthly magazine Kino / Cinema, Andrzej Kołodyński said,
Lucyna Winnicka is an example of a film actress fully aware of filmic measures. I believe there is no other actress who feels that particular medium as well as her. Her portrayal of Marta in the Night Train represents her talent. In the film, her character becomes increasingly interesting with every scene. The construction of character and reacting to what is happening around her is the definition of a truly modern acting.
Most of the plot of The Nigh Train is set in the enclosed space of a moving train. A group of people meet by accident during their journey. Each of the passengers is lonely in their own way, and each one has their own tragedy. A psychological study, as the director said "about the hunger and desire for feelings". It also contains a crime-story motif - there is a wanted murderer on the train. The travellers become very aggressive and almost lynch him.
Mother Joan of the Angels is a love story between a priest and a nun at a monastery that is possessed by demons in east Poland in the 18th century. In an interview with Ray Privette of Kinoeye, Kawalerowicz says, "They often talk about and teach about love—how to love God, how to love each other—and yet they cannot have the love of a man and a woman because of their religion. This dogma is itself inhuman. The devils that possess these characters are the external manifestations of their repressed love. […] It is like the devils give the man and woman an excuse for their human love." The script was co-written by Kawalerowicz and Tadeusz Konwicki and based on a short story by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz. The film met with the protest of the Polish church authorities and the Vatican. Causing a diplomatic and political scandal in Cannes was apparently the reason it was awarded the Grand Prix instead of the Golden Palm. Winnicka’s role on the other hand only received positive feedback, she was "possessed by a demon but beautiful, complicated and interesting", Andrzej Kołodyński went on to say.
Up to 1974 she performed on the stage of the Dramatic Theatre in Szczecin (1953-54) and the Warsaw Contemporary Theatre (1954-57) and the city’s Dramatic Theatre (1959-74). Investing herself in teaching about medicine and philosophy of the Far East at the Life Academy which she set up, writing for newspapers and cooperating on the funding of Transparency International Poland, she ended her acting career in the second half of the 70s. Her last film was Krzysztof Gradowski’s 1977 short film Deja vu czyli skąd my to znamy / Déjà vu or don’t we know this already [editor’s translation]. Travelling a lot to the Far East, in 1987 she published a book - Podróż dookoła świętej krowy / A Voyage Around the Holy Cow and W poczekalni nieba / In Heaven’s Waiting Room in 1999.
Sources: based on the article by Bartosz Staszczyszyn for culture.pl
Editor: Marta jazowska