Poland Cinematography in the 1970's

Poland Cinematography in the 1970’s


In 1970 Gomułka was replaced by E. Gierek, who promised economic recovery and greater freedom of expression. Of the production units established after the war only Iluzjon and Tor continued to exist, Kadr, Silezja, Profil, Pryzmat and X were founded, directed by Wajda, while a new generation took over the direction of the units that had as their objective the reflection on the social question and moral. Freedom of expression was effective, so that a film could finally be released, Wajda’s Człowiek z marmuru (1977; The Marble Man), which marked an epochal turning point, stimulating the young people of group X to affirm the political demands that would explode in the Solidarity movement. The resonance of the film was enormous, even in the international field. In November 1978, a few weeks after the ascent to the papal throne of the Polish pope John Paul II, a presence that also influenced the internal politics of Poland, the 4th congress of the Stowarzyszenie Filmowców Polskich (Association of Polish filmmakers) was held: Wajda was elected president, and the outgoing president Kawalerowicz he was named honorary president. The filmmakers developed a series of proposals to overcome the cinema crisis caused by inflation and the spread of home videos, which however were not taken into consideration until the end of the 1980s.

According to top-mba-universities, at the 1979 Gdansk Festival, a group of works was noticed, the result of political mobilization and the experiences of the new generation, collectively called ‘the cinema of moral restlessness’. Among the films to be mentioned Aktorzy prowincjonalni (1979; Provincial Actors) by Agnieszka Holland, Aria dla atlety (1979, Aria for an athlete) by Filip Bajon, Szansa (1980, A favorable occasion) by Feliks Falk, Zmory (1979, Incubi) by Wojciech Marczewski. Andrzej Kotkowski, with Olimpiada 40 (1980, Olimpiade 40), showed with excruciating evidence the resistance taking place in the country, set as usual in the Nazi era, while with Amateur (1979, Il cineamatore), distributed internationally, Kieślowski represented the new attitude of filmmakers, who intended to assume ethical and political responsibilities by observing man and his reality. In 1980 a wave of strikes hit the country, Solidarność was recognized as a political movement and repercussions were also manifested in the cinema: the Komitet ocalenia kinematografi (Cinema Health Committee) claimed the right to free expression against all censorship, and the year later the production units were reorganized. During the strikes of the Gdansk shipyards and the negotiations with the government, a historical documentary was made, Robotnicy ’80 (Workers ’80), signed by a group of twelve directors led by Andrzej Chodakowski and Andrzej Zajączkowski, which returns the climate moment by moment. of assembly and the terms of the negotiations (the title alludes to a famous documentary by Kieślowski, Robotnicy ’71: nic o nas bez nas, 1972, Workers ’71: nothing about us without us, about the repression of the 1971 Gdansk strike). Wajda also went to the gates of Gdansk, and shot Człowiek z żelaza (1981; The Iron Man), a sequel to Człowiek z marmoru, the title of which was suggested by the workers who participated en masse in the shoot. The film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, but in Poland it was removed from circulation immediately after its theatrical release. The martial law of December 13, 1981 blocked the renewal process, and in the field of cinema the military dictatorship of WW Jaruzelski canceled any hope of freedom of expression: many representatives of Solidarność were arrested, numerous production group executives were sacked, including Wajda, placed under house arrest in Warsaw. Censorship worked heavily, particularly on Ryszard Bugajski, who with Przesłuchanie (The interrogation) showed the crimes of the police at the time of Stalinism; the film, made in 1982, could only be shown in 1989. However, thanks to the adoption of some specific measures, the cinema began to obtain economic results, and some box successes led to an active balance. Among these Seksmisja, also known as Sexmission (1984) by Juliusz Machulski, a film that apparently plays on the light tones of comedy, but is biting in describing a country that suffered all forms of repression and censorship. Other successful films of the same year were Marek Nowicki’s Widziadło (Specter) and Ryszard Ber’s Thais. Poland then followed the transformation taking place throughout Eastern Europe with the collapse of the Soviet bloc: in 1985 state cinematography was liquidated and Film Polski became a limited liability company, even if the state it continued to limit self-management by controlling the sources of funding and copies of the films produced. A decisive institutional change was ratified in 1988, with a new regulation that sanctioned the end of the state monopoly in the field of cinema: in 1989 the Film Committee granted full autonomy to the production units, bound however to cover the costs of production for 20%, while the 80% is still guaranteed by state funding. The units also became limited liability companies, while retaining the traditional names. In the same period, the serious financial difficulties caused a strong exodus of artists and workers.

The great cinematographic event of Dekalog was in 1989, ten episodes on the Ten Commandments made by Kieślowski from an idea by Krzysztof Piesiewicz, the lawyer who defended the Solidarność militants. A true event of the Venice Film Festival of 1990 and an authentic masterpiece, this work made the Polish people reflect on themselves and on the situation in the country, as well as the depth of the director’s subsequent films: La double vie de Véronique (1991; Veronica’s double life) and the Trois couleurs trilogy: Bleu, Blanc, from 1993 and Rouge from 1994 (Three colors – Blue film, White film, Red film).

In 1990 L. Wałęsa was elected President of the Republic. In 1991, a film production agency was founded in an attempt to revive national production with state subsidies. But the rapid and profound changes undergone and the uncertainties generated by the new prospect of entry into Europe have caused cinema to halt from an artistic point of view, while the public, tired of political commitment, welcomed the film. invasion of once banned American films, only to tire of those too. A recovery began only at the end of the nineties: examples are great works on the reaffirmation of national identity such as Ogniem i mieczem (1999, A ferro e fuoco) by Hoffman and Pan Tadeusz (1999, Mr. Tadeusz) by Wajda from Patriotic poem of the same name by A. Mickiewicz, or brilliant comedies such as Kiler (1997, Killer) by Machulski and Cześć Tereska (2001, Ciao Teresa) by Robert Gliński. The total lack of interest in politics that has invested the country after the years of struggles and the transformation of post-communist society are reflected in Pagoda na jutro (2004, Il tempo di oggi) by Jerzy Stuhr, one of the favorite actors of Kieślowski, a comedy that summarizes an era in which the new capitalist models of Western countries now prevail.

Poland Cinematography in the 1970's