This film examines the life of renowned pediatrician, writer and teacher Henryk Goldzmit, who wrote under the name Janusz Korczak. As the Nazis invade Poland, Korczak does everything in his power to protect children from a dire fate
The epic was bitterly attacked during its Festival screening by some political commentators in France, notably, by virulently anti-Polish Claude Lanzmann, who would prefer to see the Poles being portrayed as the villains. Yet, among its strongest defendants was Marek Edelman, the Polish Jew who survived the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Wajda himself, saw the idea of showing the children being led into the Treblinka gas chambers as repulsing.
Monument in Warsaw Directed by Andrzej Wajda
Early lifeWajda was born in Suwałki, Poland, the son of Aniela (née Biaxowas), a school teacher, and Jakub Wajda, an army officer. Wajda' father was murdered by the Soviets in 1940 in what came to be known as the Katyn massacre. In 1942 he joined the Polish resistance and served in the Armia Krajowa. After the war, he studied to be a painter at Kraków's Academy of Fine Arts before entering the Łódź Film School.
Andrzej Wajda (Polish: [ˈandʐɛj ˈvajda]; born 6 March 1926) is a Polish film director. Recipient of an honorary Oscar, he is possibly the most prominent member of the unofficial "Polish Film School" (active c. 1955 to 1963). He is known especially for a trilogy of war films: A Generation (1954), Kanał (1956) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958).
Four of his films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: The Promised Land (1975), The Maids of Wilko (1979), Man of Iron (1981), and Katyń (2007).
CareerAfter Wajda's apprenticeship to director Aleksander Ford, Wajda was given the opportunity to direct his own film. With A Generation (1955), the first-time director poured out his disillusionment over jingoism, using as his alter ego a young, James Dean-style antihero played by Zbigniew Cybulski, 22-year-old Roman Polanski also featured. At the same time Andrzej Wajda began his work as a director in theatre, including such as Michael V. Gazzo's A Hatful of Rain (1959), Hamlet (1960), and Two for the Seesaw (1963) by William Gibson. Wajda made two more increasingly accomplished films, which developed further the anti-war theme of A Generation: Kanał (1956) [Silver Palm at Cannes Festival in 1957, ex equo with Bergman's The Seventh Seal and Ashes and Diamonds (1958), again with Cybulski.
While capable of turning out mainstream commercial fare (often dismissed as "trivial" by his critics), Wajda was more interested in works of allegory and symbolism, and certain symbols (such as setting fire to a glass of liquor, representing the flame of youthful idealism that was extinguished by the war) recur often in his films, the very characteristic of Wajda's symbolism is film Lotna (1959), full of surrealistic and symbolic scenes and shots but he managed to explore some other field of existence making new wave style Innocent Sorcerers (1960) with music by Krzysztof Komeda, starring Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski (who was also a co-script writer) in the episodes. Then Wajda directed Samson (1961), a moving story about Jacob, a Jewish boy, who wants to survive during the Nazi occupation of Poland. In the mid-1960s Wajda showed the world an epic film The Ashes (1965) based on the novel by Polish writer Stefan Żeromski and directed some films abroad: Love at Twenty (1962), Siberian Lady Macbeth (1962) or Gates To Paradise (1968).
In 1967, Cybulski was killed in a train accident, whereupon the director articulated his grief with what is considered one of his most personal films, which turned out to be a touching story (using technique "film in film") about film maker's life and work on movie Everything for Sale (1968) which is now established and regarded as one of the few films on that subject along with Federico Fellini's "8½". The following year he directed an ironic satire Hunting Flies with the script written by Janusz Głowacki and a television film based upon Stanisław Lem's short story "Roly Poly".
The 1970s were the most lucrative artistic period for Wajda, who made over ten films, some of which were among his finest works: Landscape After the Battle (1970), Pilate And Others (1971), The Wedding (1972) - the film version of Polish most famous poetic drama by Stanisław Wyspiański, The Promised Land (1974), Man of Marble (1976) - the film takes place in two time periods, the first film showing the episodes of Stalinism in Poland, The Shadow Line (1976), Rough Treatment (the other title: Without Anesthesia) (1978), The Orchestra Conductor (1980), starring John Gielgud; or two, very touching, psychological and existential films based upon novels by Polish famous writer Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz - The Birch Wood (1970) and The Maids of Wilko (1979). The Birch Wood was entered into the 7th Moscow International Film Festival where Wajda won the Golden Prize for Direction.
Wajda continued to work in theatre where he has made his best spectacles, including Play Strindberg, Dostoyevsky's The Possessed and Nastasja Filippovna - the Wajda's version of The Idiot, November Night by Wyspiański, The Immigrants by Sławomir Mrożek, The Danton Affair or The Dreams of Reason.
Wajda's later commitment to Poland's burgeoning Solidarity movement was manifested in Man of Iron (1981), a thematic sequel to The Man of Marble, with Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa appearing as himself in the latter film. The film sequence is loosely based on the life of Anna Walentynowicz, a hero of socialist labor [Stahanovite] turned dissident and alludes to events from real life, such as the recreation in Man of Iron of the firing of Anna Walentynowicz from the shipyard and the underground wedding of Bogdan Borusewicz to Alina Pienkowska. The director's involvement in this movement would prompt the Polish government to force Wajda's production company out of business. For the film, Wajda won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1983 he directed Danton, starring Gérard Depardieu in the title role, a film set in 1794 (Year Two) dealing with the Post-Revolutionary Terror. Wajda showed how easy revolution can change into terror and starts to "eat its own children". But the film should also be seen in its historical context against the backdrop of the martial law in Poland, which can be referred to as its "Polish ambience." For this film Wajda was honoured by receiving the very prestigious Louis Delluc Award, he also gained a couple of Cesar Awards. In the 1980s he also made some important films like A Love in Germany (1983) featuring Hanna Schygulla, The Chronicle of Amorous Incidents (1986) an adaptation of Tadeusz Konwicki's novel and The Possessed (1988) based on Dostoyevsky's novel, in which it is shown how terrorism begins. In theatre he prepared a very famous interpretation of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (1984) and other unique spectacles such as Antygone, his sequential Hamlet versions or an old Jewish play The Dybbuk.
In 1990 Andrzej Wajda was honoured as the third director, after Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman by Felix[disambiguation needed] - European Film Award for his lifetime achievement. In the early 1990s, he was elected a senator and also appointed artistic director of Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny. He continued to make films set during World War II, including Korczak (1990), a story about a Jewish-Polish doctor who takes care of orphan children, in The Crowned-Eagle Ring (1993) and Holy Week (1995) specifically on Jewish-Polish relations. In 1994 Wajda presented his own film version of Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot in the movie Nastasja,starring Japanese actor Tamasoburo Bando in double role of Prince Mishkin and Nasstasya, the film was beautifully photographed by Pawel Edelman, who became one of Wajda's great co-workers since that time. In 1996 the director went in a different direction with Miss Nobody, a coming-of-age drama that explored the darker and more spiritual aspects of a relationship between three high-school girls. In 1999 Wajda presented a great epic film Pan Tadeusz, based on the art of the Polish 19th-century romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz.
A year later, at the 2000 Academy Awards, Wajda was presented with an honorary Oscar for his contribution to world cinema; he subsequently donated the award to Kraków's Jagiellonian University.
In 2002 Wajda directed the comedy Revenge, a film version of his 1980s theatre production, with Roman Polanski in one of the main roles. In February 2006, Wajda received an honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2007 Katyń was released, a well received film about the Katyn massacre, in which Wajda's father was murdered but the director also shows the dramatic situation of those who await for their relatives (mothers, wives and children). The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2008. Wajda followed it with Tatarak (Sweet Rush - 2009) with Krystyna Janda as a main character. It is partly based upon Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz short novel, there is also very important fragment taken from Janda's private life. Sweet Rush turns to be a sort of deep, calm and melancholic meditation about death and love. The film is dedicated to Edward Kłosiński, Janda's husband, a cinematographer and a long-time Andrzej Wajda's friend and co-worker who died of cancer the same year. For this film Andrzej Wajda was awarded by Alfred Bauer Prize at The Berlin Film Festival in 2009, recently he also got critics prize - Prix FIPRESCI during European Film Awards Ceremony. Currently Wajda is working on his latest film which would be the biography of Lech Wałęsa and the script has been written by Janusz Głowacki.
Andrzej Wajda has founded The Japanese Centre of Art and Technology "Manggha" in Krakow/Cracow (1994) and has also founded (2002) (along with great Polish film maker Wojciech Marczewski) and leads his own film school  in which students take part in different film courses led by famous European film makers.
AnalysisA major figure of world and European cinema after World War II, Wajda made his reputation as a sensitive and uncompromising chronicler of his country's political and social evolution. Once dubbed a symbol for a besieged country, Wajda is known for drawing from Poland's history to suit his tragic sensibility—crafting an oeuvre of work that devastates even as it informs.
Andrzej Wajda's films have a strong visual side, he sometimes made his own versions of Polish and European paintings and he also thinks by the images. He tries to give the right mood and atmosphere of times in which he sets the action and he refers to the paintings of that time as well. He has worked with Polish cinematographers such as Jerzy Lipman, Jerzy Wójcik, Witold Sobociński, Edward Kłosiński, Zygmunt Samosiuk, Sławomir Idziak or Paweł Edelman, he also cooperated with Igor Luther or Robby Muller.
The Bad Boy (Zły chłopiec, 1951)- short film
The Pottery at Ilza (Ceramika ilzecka, 1951) -short film
While you are sleeping (Kiedy ty śpisz, 1953) -short film
A Generation (Pokolenie, 1954)
Towards the Sun (Idę do słońca, documentary on Xawery Dunikowski, 1955)
Ashes and Diamonds (Popiół i diament 1958)
Innocent Sorcerers (Niewinni czarodzieje, 1960)
Siberian Lady Macbeth (Powiatowa lady Makbet, 1961)
Love at Twenty (L'amour à vingt ans, 1962)
The Ashes (Popioly, 1965)
Everything for Sale (Wszystko na sprzedaż, 1968)
Roly Poly (Przekładaniec, 1968)
Gates to Paradise (Bramy Raju, 1968)
Hunting Flies (Polowanie na muchy, 1969)
The Birch Wood (Brzezina, 1970)
Landscape After the Battle (Krajobraz po bitwie, 1970)
Pilate and Others (Pilatus und andere, 1972)
The Wedding (Wesele, 1973)
The Promised Land (Ziemia obiecana, 1974)
The Shadow Line (Smuga cienia, 1976)
Man of Marble (Człowiek z marmuru, 1977)
Without Anesthesia aka Rough Treatment (Bez znieczulenia, 1978)
The Maids of Wilko (Panny z Wilka, 1979)
As years go by, as days go by ("Z biegiem lat, z biegiem dni", 1980 television serial.)
The Orchestra Conductor (Dyrygent, 1980)
Man of Iron (Człowiek z żelaza, 1981)
A Love in Germany (Eine Liebe in Deutschland, 1983)
A Chronicle of Amorous Accidents (Kronika wypadków miłosnych, 1985)
The French as seen by... (Proust contre la déchéance, 1988)
The Possessed (Les possédes, 1988)
The Crowned-Eagle Ring (Pierścionek z orłem w koronie, 1992)
Holy Week (Wielki Tydzień, 1995)
Miss Nobody (Panna Nikt, 1996)
Pan Tadeusz (1999)
Bigda idzie (TV theatre "Bigda idzie!"; 1999)
The Condemnation of Franciszek Klos (Wyrok na Franciszka Kłosa, 2000)
June night ("Noc czerwcowa" -TV theatre, 2001)
Broken Silence (Przerwane milczenie, 2002)
The Revenge (Zemsta, 2002)
Man of Hope (Czlowiek z nadziei) (2005)
Sweet Rush (Tatarak) (2009)
FILM; Wajda's 'Korczak' Sets Loose the Furies
By STEPHEN ENGELBERG
Published: April 14, 1991
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In the closing shot of Andrzej Wajda's new film, "Korczak," a cattle car crammed with Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto rumbles toward the Treblinka concentration camp. Suddenly the action shifts to slow motion, and the car uncouples from the train as if touched by an unseen hand. Its doors slide open, and the children spill happy and laughing into a verdant field.
The film, which opened Friday in New York, recounts the life and death of Janusz Korczak (pronounced YAN-oosh KOR-chak), a Jewish teacher, doctor and writer who struggled in vain to save 200 children living in his orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto.
Its concluding 30 seconds of fantasy have become the focal point of a bitter assault on the movie by French critics, some of whom viewed it as an attempt by Poles to throw a rosy wash over their own complicity, or indifference, to the genocide of Jews. By contrast, Israeli critics praised the ending as a symbol of hope, and Mr. Wajda (pronounced VIE-da) said the country's Ministry of Education had added the film to the required school curriculum.
Numbered among its vigorous detractors are Claude Lanzmann, director of "Shoah," the epic 1985 documentary on the Holocaust; its defenders include Marek Edelman, the Polish Jew who is the only surviving leader of the 1944 Warsaw ghetto uprising.
Mr. Wajda, who earned his reputation as the best known of Poland's film makers with a series of movies that challenged the Communist regime, is a grandfatherly man with a shock of white hair. The 65-year-old Mr. Wajda said he had no intention of obscuring the historical fact, noted in the film's postscript, that Dr. Korczak and the children died in the gas chambers of Treblinka in 1942.
Mr. Wajda argued that movie makers have a duty to leave their audience with something more. He said he never considered ending the film with its penultimate shot, which shows the train speeding away from Warsaw toward the concentration camp.
"Such an ending would have said to me that all these endeavors of Dr. Korczak were sunk in a black hole; that pedagogy in the face of force has no sense; that no efforts of man can reverse the fact that he is dying so accidentally. This would be an awful, existentialist point of view.
"There would have been nothing easier than showing the death of the children in the gas chamber," Mr. Wajda. "It would have been a very moving scene. Everyone would have been crying. But do we have the right, does art have the right to show this? Is art for this?
"Isn't art for telling it in some different way? Art has to stop short of certain facts, has to look for other possibilities. It seems to me that it is beautiful that when we do not agree to the fact that the children were gassed, we create a legend that these children go somewhere, into some better world."
Mr. Wajda, who has previously benefited from largely sympathetic coverage by the world press, seems startled to be so much on the defensive. The movie was not a commercial success in Poland.
One of the most prominent intellectuals to support the Solidarity movement, he is widely regarded as the leading director working today in Polish cinema. For decades, he stretched the Communist-run film system to its limits, defying explicit censorship and implicit constraints of Government financing to produce movies that defined the nation's political consciousness.
Produced by Janusz Morgenstern
Daniel Toscan du Plantier
Written by Agnieszka Holland
Starring Wojciech Pszoniak
Music by Wojciech Kilar
Cinematography Robby Müller
Editing by Ewa Smal
Release date(s) 6 Mai 1990
Running time 113 minutes
This DVD was released in the US by Kino Lorber on 14 August 2012. Hailed by the likes of Steven Spielberg as one of the most important European films about the Holocaust it should have been available by this company on Day One. Unfortunately for us, this company is no longer interested in cinema. ...read more They care about streaming TV shows (they're easy and cheap) and no longer are the company they once were.