Man of Marble (2 Disc Special Edition) DVD
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Directed by Andrzej Wajda
Produced in 1976
Main Language - Polish with English subtitles
A special edition of Andrzej Wajda's groundbreaking film which excavated Poland's Stalinist past. It ushered in one of the great creative periods of Polish cinema, writes Michael Brooke.
Thanks to it winning the Palme d’Or, an Oscar nomination and brilliantly capturing the mood of the Solidarity protests, Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Iron (1981) is far better known internationally than its predecessor, made four years earlier as a standalone film. But back home, Man of Marble has long been regarded as one of the greatest of all Polish films, not least for its bravery in tackling a topic so controversial that thirteen years elapsed between the first-draft screenplay and the first day of shooting.
Consciously modelled on Citizen Kane, it uses a similar multiple-viewpoint flashback structure to uncover the facts behind a legendary life. The difference is that instead of a wealthy newspaper magnate, Wajda’s subject is humble bricklayer Mateusz Birkut (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), briefly famous in the early 1950s as a Stakhanovite exemplar of his profession, celebrated in posters, documentaries and even a marble statue, before inexplicably vanishing. Recent film-school graduate Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda), in search of a career-boosting splash of a subject, thinks that this is perfect, comprising both a probing investigation into a still-taboo part of Polish history while telling what she hopes will be a gripping detective story - but the more interviewees she tracks down, the murkier things become. Will she even get to complete the film, let alone see it approved for broadcast by an obviously nervous executive?
Wajda was no stranger to contentious periods of Polish history: Kanal (1957) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958) had cemented his reputation two decades earlier. But although things had changed significantly since the Stalinist era, Poland was still ruled by the Communist Party, whose cultural apparatchiks were genuinely worried about the film’s implied message (however justified) that morale-boosting government propaganda was often based on cynical lies. But their private hopes that the film would be quietly ignored were dashed: thanks to Wajda’s propulsive direction and electrifying performances from the two leads, it caught the public imagination with a vengeance and ushered in one of the great creative periods of Polish cinema as Wajda’s colleagues realised what they could now get away with.
Michael Brooke on 5th March 2014
Author of 153 reviews
A former Hero of the People becomes involved in politics and is then condemned by the party to obscurity. The film follows a TV director’s attempt to make a documentary about him. Originally famed for its breaking of the rules in showing Poland’s Stalinist past, Man of Marble now stands as an immense artistic achievement.
Melding quasi documentary and real feature footage, Man of Marble just gets better with every viewing. This is a masterwork of a man at the height of his technical powers.
Publisher: Second Run
Length: 160 mins
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 12th May 2014
Cat No: SECONDRUN086
- 2 discs
- All new HD digital restoration
- Three exclusive, newly filmed interviews with director Andrzej Wajda, lead actress Krystyna Janda and first assistant director Agnieszka Holland.
by Barry Forshaw on 10th June 2014
A welcome 2-dDisc Special Edition of Andrzej Wajda’s epic, iconic 1976 film often described as ‘the Polish Citizen Kane’, the dazzling Man of Marble functions as both ... Read on
A welcome 2-dDisc Special Edition of Andrzej Wajda’s epic, iconic 1976 film often described as ‘the Polish Citizen Kane’, the dazzling Man of Marble functions as both an electrifying political saga and a compelling dissection of the nature of cinema itself. It tells the story of a determined young filmmaker Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda) who sets out to make a documentary about ‘Worker’s Hero’ Mateusz Birkut, who in the early days of the Communist revolution became as famous as any film star, only to disappear from the record books in 1952. Delving into that recent past, Agnieszka determinedly pursues Birkut’s story. Birkut’s rise and subsequent fall from favour and disappearance into obscurity provides Wajda with a framework for a brave reassessment of the times. The film is not only regarded as one of the most important films in the history of Polish cinema, it is also one of the key films of the 1970s. Hide