Legendary Polish director Andrzej Wajda made his fourth NYFF appearance with this epic chronicle of the birth of the Solidarity labor movement. In a demanding dual role, the great Jerzy Radziwilowicz stars as Maciej, a union organizer at the Gdansk shipyards (modeled on real-life Solidarity leader Lech Walesa) and, in flashback, Maciej’s father Mateusz, the “model worker” hero of Wajda’s 1977 Man of Marble. Sent to dig up dirt on Maciej and the other movement leaders, Winkel (Marian Opania), a former radical journalist now working for state-sponsored media, infiltrates the yards by posing as a sympathizer. But the more Winkel learns about his subjects, the more he feels his old idealism returning to the fore. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film, Man of Iron is as much about the end of an era as the dawn of a new one: within months of the movie’s completion, martial law was declared and Solidarity repressed.
Special thanks to the Polish Cultural Institute New York for their support.
“Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Iron is more than a great film, it is an Event.”
—NYFF19 program note
“****. Wajda’s film is not a polemic, however. That humanist streak, complained of by the state censors, sneaks through even at the expense of the Solidarity politics he wants to celebrate. Wajda is an artist first, a reporter second or third, and not really a very good propagandist. And the best things in Man of Iron are the purely personal moments, the scenes where Wajda is concerned with the human dimensions of his characters rather than their ideological struggles.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times