Feature film directed by Andrzej Wajda in 1976.
Andrzej Wajda's Man of Marble / Człowiek z marmuru is now considered one of the foremost films from behind the Iron Curtain. The film, released at a time when the country's media was carefully screened by censors, criticises the system from within.
Agnieszka, a film school student, wants to make a television film about an over-achieving worker in the 1950s, Mateusz Birkut. A bricklayer at Krakow's Nowa Huta district who beat records when he led a 5-man team to lay 30,000 bricks in eight hours.
Through talks with people who knew Birkut and archives of old newsreels found in vaults, Agnieszka discovers the truth about the hero of the time, and the truth about the time in which she lives and last but not least - about herself.
The film, shot in 1976, could not openly discuss the subject but the people watching during the time of protests at the Gdańsk shipyards knew - it was clear that Mateusz Birkut probably died on the coast during the riots in 1970, when the militia and the army were ordered to shoot workers protesting against the situation in their country.
For Wajda, Man of Marble, seriously questioning the role of filmmaker in the field of political conviction, is a kind of questioning and self-criticism. The essence of Wajda's film is to create a myth, this goal is supported by the epic structure of the image, blatantly recalling the structure of 'Citizen Kane'. (...) Agnieszka is by no means an engaging heroine and Wajda makes it clear that she is potentially vulnerable (like the medium of film itself) to the corruption, which the old film director shows signs of, being the first to use Birkut. Wajda himself is not exempt from criticism: in the credits of a fictional propaganda film from the 1950s he is listed as 'assistant director' – aware of how easily an artist becomes a political mercenary. However, the film ends with a hint of hope, that Agnieszka does not lose her strong beliefs.
(David Ansen, Newsweek 1981)
Agnieszka understands perfectly well that the destruction of Birkut as a 'working hero', is not a result of the errors or malice of some officials, or some remnants of the cult of the individual; it was destroyed by the deep inner logic of the system.(...) In the 'Man of Marble' Stalinism becomes an era which is both bright and bleak, safe and dangerous. An excess of poetry and politics, the burden of inclusion in the unpredictable history of social coercion ever-present and nowhere at the same time, powerful and elusive. Wajda can expertly describe this with his camera movements, and richness of style.
(Barthelemy Amengual, Positif, 1979)
- Man of Marble" / "Człowiek z marmuru, Poland 1976. Director Andrzej Wajda. Screenplay Aleksander Ścibor-Rylski. Director of Photography Edward Kłosiński. Music Andrzej Korzyński as well as socialist songs from the 1950s. Set design Allan Starski. Editing Halina Prugar. Sound Piotr Zawadzki. Producer Barbara Pec-Ślesicka. Production PRF Zespoły Filmowe - Zespół X, 1976; Cast Jerzy Radziwiłowicz (Mateusz Birkut), Krystyna Janda (Agnieszka), Tadeusz Łomnicki i Jacek Łomnicki (Young Burski), Michał Tarkowski (Witek), Piotr Cieślak (Michalak), Wiesław Wójcik (Jodła), Krystyna Zachwatowicz (Hanka Tomczyk), Magda Teresa Wójcik (Editor), Bogusław Sobczuk (TV editor), Leonard Zajączkowski (Cameraman), Jacek Domański (Boom operator), Irena Laskowska (Museum Employee), Zdzisław Kozień (Agnieszka's Father), Wiesław Drzewicz (Owner of "Ostoja"), Kazimierz Kaczor (UB Colonel ), Ewa Ziętek (Secretary), Grzegorz Skurski (Driver and Lighting operator). Colour/Black and White, 35 mm, 4518 m, 165'.
- The Award of the Polish Federation of Film Discussion Clubs "Don Quixote"
- 1977 - Press Award, 4th PFFF Gdansk
- 1978 - FIPRESCI Award, 31st IFF Cannes
- 1979 - Actor's Award for Jerzy Radziwillowicz, 6th IFF Brussels
- 1979 - Main Award 9th FEST Belgrade, and Actor's Award for Jerzy Radziwillowicz
- 1980 - Special Award of the Jury, 20th IFF Cartagena