NY Times, TIFF

He Was a Director Who Was a Giant of World Cinema, and the Recipient of an Honorary Oscar — Andrzej Wajda Dies at 90

Oct 10, 2016  •  Post A Comment

Noted film director Andrzej Wajda, who overcame resistance toward his work by the authorities in his native Poland to become one of the giants of world cinema, has died.

The New York Times reports that Wajda died Sunday at 90. He had recently been hospitalized with an unspecified illness.

“From his trilogy of Poland’s wartime resistance (‘A Generation,’ ‘Kanal’ and ‘Ashes and Diamonds’) to his twin portraits of workers under Communism (‘Man of Marble’ and ‘Man of Iron’) to his final film, ‘Afterimage,’ released this year, Mr. Wajda unceasingly drew on Polish reality, sensibility and memory, stressing elements that were at times mystifying to foreign viewers,” The Times reports.

The Times obit adds: “His absorption in Polish sensibilities, and in quintessentially Polish subjects, like the romantic appeal of lost causes, extended beyond plot and subtext to the iconography with which he filled his movies, a tendency he lamented but could not escape. ‘I would gladly trade in this clutch of national symbols — sabers, white horses, red poppies — for a handful of sexual symbols from a Freudian textbook,’ he once said. ‘The trouble is that I just wasn’t brought up on Freud.’”

Wajda struggled first against government censorship in Poland, and then to gain acceptance among Western audiences.

“That he succeeded in overcoming so much to produce towering works of art earned him the enduring regard of his countrymen,” The Times notes. “And as opaque as his allusions may have seemed outside Poland, his international reputation grew steadily.”

The Times adds: “Western film historians eventually mentioned him alongside Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa. He was given the Japanese Imperial Prize for his contribution to film in 1996 and an honorary Academy Award in 2000. Mr. Wajda also received lifetime achievement awards from the film festivals in Venice in 1998 and Berlin in 2006.”

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