Sunday Matinee: Andrzej Wajda

Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda turns 85 today. Director of close to 51 films – he has had a long and prolific career directing some of Poland’s greatest films and he hasn’t slowed down despite his age.

Wadja started his film career in 1955 with A Generation – a film about two men who join the communist resistance during the Nazi occupation of Poland. It was the first in Wadja’s Three War Films trilogy. The film was “influenced” by the communist regime so it has a pro-communist bent to it but Wadja’s later work would rebel against this.

The last part of the trilogy, Ashes and Diamonds, is my favorite film by Wajda. It’s set in the closing days of WWII and two men who are members of Poland’s Home Army (a Polish resistance army) are assigned to assassinate a communist Commissar. Their first attempt ends in disaster. It’s a brilliant anti-war movie.

One of his latest films was Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Film – Katyn (2007). It deals with the Katyn massacre that occurred in 1940. Wadja’s father was one of the soldiers who was massacred by the Soviets. When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, the Soviets invaded Poland 16 days later. The Soviets took thousands of Polish soldiers prisoner (because the soldiers had orders to fight the Germans not the Soviets). In 1940 Stalin decided to have the prisoners executed killing 22,000 Polish soldiers and then had it covered up.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka has spent most of his life watching movies and reading comic books. He has decided to use this vast knowledge for evil instead of good.