World cinema has lost of its iconic auteurs today with the death of Polish film director Andrzej Wajda, who passed away today at the age of 90. Wajda is an award-winning film director whose noteworthy awards include the Palme D’Or and an honorary Oscar.
Andrzej Witold Wajda was born in Suwalki, Poland on March 6, 1926. After serving his country during World War II, he started as a painter but found his calling at the Lodz Film School. He became an apprentice of the late Russian film director Aleksander Ford and then would go off into making his own films.
His first film was A Generation, released in 1955. Interestingly enough, his film career went simultaneously with his work as a director in theater. While directing stage plays, Wajda was given his first award in 1956 when his film Kanal tied with Ingmar Bergman‘s The Seventh Seal to win the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. He wrapped his up anti-war trilogy with 1958’s Ashes and Diamonds.
Wajda’s films have been to have a bit of politicism in them and it was in 1981 when he won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his iconic Man of Iron. The film would feature Poland’s leader of Solitarity, Lech Walesa, as himself in the film. It was a thematic sequel to his own 1976 film Man of Marble, which depicted Stalinism.
Continuing his directing career, Wajda made a film close to his personal life in 2007 with Katyn, which depicted the 1940 massacre of Polish officers by Soviet military during World War II. Wajda’s father was a Polish officer who was a casualty of the real-life event. Just prior to his death, Wajda completed his final film, Afterimage, which depicts the story of avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski. The film has been officially picked as Poland’s entry for possible nomination of Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards.
Wajda is survived by his fourth wife, actress and costume designer Krystyna Zachwatowicz.
World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Andrzej Wajda. As a final tribute, here is Jane Fonda presenting the honorary Oscar to Wajda in 2014.
Rest in Peace, Andrzej Wajda.