SIBERIAN LADY MACBETH (Andrzej Wajda, 1961)

A heavy-duty though murky morality tale based on the 1865 novella Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Nikolai Leskov, Sibirska Ledi Magbet—which, incidentally, has nothing to do with Macbeth—is a turgid, arty melodrama, made in Yugoslavia, by Poland’s Andrzej Wajda. Its unhappy protagonist is Katerina Izmajlowa, who in Tsarist Russia is eventually sent as prisoner to […]

KATYŃ (Andrzej Wajda, 2007)

In August 1939 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed their mutual non-aggression pact. A week later, beginning September 1, both German and Soviet armies separately invaded Poland; on Poland’s border the Soviets imprisoned more than 10,000 Polish officers and soldiers, all of whom they executed in April 1940. Following Germany’s invasion of Russia, canceling […]

A GENERATION (Andrzej Wajda, 1954)

“They’re starting politics early, this generation.” Adapted by Bohdan Czeszko from his novel, Andrzej Wajda’s first feature film, Pokolenie, begins in 1942 in Warsaw and concerns itself with an underground youth resistance movement hoping to deliver Poland from the current Nazi occupation to its Soviet-allianced postwar communist future. Wajda has said that this distortion of […]

LANDSCAPE AFTER BATTLE (Andrzej Wajda, 1970)

Based on autobiographical stories by Tadeusz Borowski, Andrzej Wajda’s Krajobraz po bitwie opens with an irritating long sequence, silent but set to raucous music, portraying the American liberation of a German death camp in 1945. The prisoners appear exceptionally well fed, perhaps on unlimited quantities of wiener schnitzel and polish sausage. As the men peel […]

THE WEDDING (Andrzej Wajda, 1972)

Wesele, from Stanisław Wyspiański’s play, takes place around 1900. Wyspiański himself was in attendance at the actual event; the bridegroom was a friend of his, painter Lucjan Rydel. The major topic of conversation at the wedding celebration in Andrzej Wajda’s film, following, I presume, Wyspiański’s play, is Polish history: a century of division and oppression […]