22 May 2014

DVD Review - Man Of Marble (Czlowiek z marmuru, 1977)


Genre:
Drama, World Cinema
Distributor:
Second Run
DVD Release Date:
19th May 2014 (UK)
Rating:PG
Run Time:
154 minutes
Director:
Andrzej Wajda
Cast:
Krystyna Janda, Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Tadeusz Lomnicki
Buy:Man of Marble: 2-Disc Special Editon [DVD]

Man of Marble is one of the key films in the career of noted Polish director Andrzej Wajda who, with the exception of his friend Roman Polanski, is Poland’s most famous film director. It was widely acclaimed on its release and even won the FIPRESCI prize at the 1978 Cannes film festival.

The film is a sprawling narrative that has been compared to Citizen Kane and is often called “The Polish Citizen Kane” as it has a very similar set-up to Orson Welles’ masterpiece. It’s about the life of bricklayer Mateusz Birkut who gets thrown into the spotlight as a “worker’s hero” by the state, but he vanishes from public life. In the 70s a young filmmaker is making her thesis film on him and is interviewing people who knew him, trying to find any footage of him she can etc. However, she must deal with bureaucracy from professors, media producers and friends who would rather have the film buried.

It’s an epic portrait of a man that is a victim of the system that created him, and it’s a film that questions the system like so many films of the 1970s. It’s no surprise it was banned by the Communist government in Poland, and Wajda went into exile despite it revitalising his career. He had been planning the film since his masterful war trilogy in the late 1950s.

Second Run’s disc boosts one of the finest dvd transfers I’ve ever seen. I believe it came from the same source as the Polish Blu-Ray that is available. It also features a bonus disc including interviews with Wajda, the lead actress Krystyna Janda and filmmaker Agnieszka Holland along with a 16-page booklet with a essay by Michael Brooke.

★★★★

Ian Schultz



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