LGM Film Club, Part 371: Man of Marble
I recently rewatched one of the finest films ever to come out of eastern Europe, Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Marble, from 1977. This remarkable film, about the fate of a Stakhanovite worker from the early 50s, and the young woman filmmaker who wants to find him, is an amazingly honest, intense, and powerful view of late era Poland. The dreams of the post-war world, which were real enough for a lot of people, had become totally corrupted by the reality of communist rule. Krystyna Janda is astoundingly good at the filmmaker who will stop at nothing, including direct orders, to do this film. Jerzy Radziwilowicz is just fine as the worker Birkut, playing an idealistic, if a bit clueless worker, deeply committed to the new society and in love with the fame he gets from being such a good bricklayer, but one whose idealism is crushed after he gets burned on his hands and his best friends is disappeared to a prison as a response.
Wajda was the great director of freedom and its complexities. From his early films about World War II Poland and its immediately aftermath, through this and its sequel Man of Iron, featuring Lech Walesa(!), to his biopic of Danton when he was in exile in France, to his late life film about the Katyn massacre, he maintained the theme of political freedom in the context of oppressive regimes. He was a real great. And this is the best of his pictures, imo.