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06.03.2021 - 31.03.2022

The 95th anniversary of Andrzej Wajda’s birth is being celebrated by the Manggha Museum with an exhibition of selected items from the director’s archive documenting his life and work, to be shown for twelve consecutive months, between March 2021 and March 2022. Every month different materials go on display from the archive accumulated by Andrzej Wajda throughout his life and subsequently transferred by him to the museum of his founding.

March 2022

Andrzej Wajda’s debut as a documentary director came early, when he was still a student at the Film School in Łódź. His first ever documentary, the étude (“student’s work”) entitled Pottery at Iłża (Ceramika iłżecka, 1951) focused on the work of potters in the town of Iłża. The short film had a voice-over commentary which narrated the long history of the craft in Iłża.

Four years later, the director took his cameras into the atelier of the greatest Polish sculptor, Xawery Dunikowski, to document the artist’s work. Towards the Sun (Idę do słońca, 1955) was an innovative documentary in that it showed selected sculptures in various spaces, e.g. at the seaside. Dunikowski never says a word in it. Years later, Andrzej Wajda regretted not having portrayed the sculptor by giving him an opportunity to speak.

The Andrzej Wajda Archive holds some materials relating to these two productions, among them the following:

1. Working sketches and notes by Andrzej Wajda, such as production data and the director’s draft.
2. Andrzej Wajda’s 1948 notebook, in which the director described his stay in Iłża and meetings with local potters.
3. Photographs documenting the work on Towards the Sun, including shots of the beach and of Xawery Dunikowski’s atelier.
4. Script for Towards the Sun written by Stefan Flukowski and Andrzej Wajda in April 1955.


Andrzej Wajda staged Stanisław Wyspiański’s play The Wedding twice at the Helena Modrzejewska Stary Theatre in Krakow.  The first production premiered on 26 October 1963. The cast included Zofia Więcławówna, Jerzy Nowak, Izabela Olszewska, and Zygmunt Hübner, among others. In collaboration with Jadwiga Wiesiołowska, the director also prepared the stage design. The music was composed by Jerzy Kaszycki. Wajda’s second take on Wyspianski’ play at the Stary Theatre came in 1991. Dorota Segda and Jan Peszek were given the leading roles as the Bride and Groom, with Tadeusz Huk as the Host and Jerzy Trela and Krzysztof Globisz as the Poet and the Journalist, respectively. The set was designed by Krystyna Zachwatowicz and Stanisław Radwan was responsible for the music. While making references to his previous production, Andrzej Wajda created an innovative work, saturated with references to contemporary reality.

Some of the relevant materials in the Andrzej Wajda Archive include:

1. 1963 notebook in which the director described his impressions of his visit to the Rydlówka House in Bronowice, where he talked to some of the actual guests of the reception following the wedding of the poet Lucjan Rydel and Jadwiga Mikołajczyk back in 1900, the actual event that provided material for Stanisław Wyspiański’s play (1901).

2. Director’s copy of Wesele (The Wedding) with underlined passages and director’s comments as well as a general overview of the cast.

3. Sheets with sketches and notes made by Wajda in 1963: costume designs and annotations.

4. Costume designs by Krystyna Zachwatowicz.

5. Wajda’s sketch for the stage design for the 1990s production at the Stary Theatre, showing the interior of the cottage in Bronowice where the action of The Wedding is set.
In early 1973, Wajda’s film adaptation of The Wedding premiered at the Słowacki Theatre in Krakow. Initially, the director had intended to film a modernized version of Stanisław Wyspiański’s play in collaboration with Jerzy Andrzejewski. A memento of that idea is the surviving 1963 movie synopsis by Andrzej Kijowski (who later wrote the script for the film discussed here). Following the frustrated attempts at adjusting the play to the socio-political realities of People’s Poland, Wajda decided to work with Wyspiański’s original text. He invited actors that he had known from his earlier films to join his production: Daniel Olbrychski (as the Groom), Wojciech Pszoniak (in a dual role as the Journalist and Stańczyk), and Andrzej Łapicki (as the Poet). The role of the Bride was given to Ewa Ziętek, a student at Krakow’s Theatre School. Witold Sobociński was responsible for the cinematography and gained acclaim for his impressive footage that gave the viewer a feeling of actually taking part in the wedding reception. The music was written by Stanisław Radwan while Krystyna Zachwatowicz designed the costumes. Czesław Niemen sang the song for the hypnotic final dance scene.

We have selected the following items from the Andrzej Wajda Archive for the exhibition:

1. Wesele 1963, film synopsis by Andrzej Kijowski, which Wajda rejected.
2. The director’s notebook in which he wrote down the proposed cast.
3. Costume designs by Krystyna Zachwatowicz.
4. Photo album.
5. French and Japanese versions of the film posters.


In October, we are focusing on Andrzej Wajda’s relations with Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz. The two artists exchanged correspondence from the early 1970s. The first short story by the author to be adapted for film by Wajda was ‘Brzezina’ (The Birch Wood), a philosophical tale of transience and death. The director chose Daniel Olbrychski and Olgierd Łukaszewicz for the leading roles. Visual references to Jacek Malczewski’s symbolic paintings are an important element of the film. The masterly photography of the ubiquitous nature was the work of the cameraman Zygmunt Samosiuk while the music was composed by Andrzej Korzyński. 

The Andrzej Wajda Archive contains a considerable quantity of materials relating to The Birch Wood, for example:

1.       Eight sheets on which Andrzej Wajda described in detail the plot of the film, day by day, starting with Stanisław’s arrival in the forester’s lodge where his widowed brother resides with his daughter, and ending with the protagonist’s death.

2.       Collection of the author’s short stories (published in 1956), including ‘Brzezina’, with the director’s notes and numerous underscored passages.

3.       Letters from Iwaszkiewicz to Wajda, in which the author writes: ‘I always think of The Birch Wood with delight; it is so nice when a child has a life of its own, no longer dependent on the father;’ and further on: ‘Again, then, congratulations are in order. My most heartfelt hugs for you, Sir, all the more heartfelt for this being “our” film.’ 

4.       Album with photos for the film ‘Brzezina’ by Renata Pajchel.

5.       French poster for the film.

In 2009 Andrzej Wajda concluded his Iwaszkiewicz trilogy with Sweet Rush. While he had made evident references to Jacek Malczewski’s pictures in The Birch Wood, here he visually interpreted paintings by the American artist Edward Hopper. Being decidedly too short for a feature film, Iwaszkiewicz’s story was complemented with Krystyna Janda’s monologue on the suffering of her recently deceased husband, the prominent cinematographer Edward Kłosiński, and a short story by Sándor Márai, ‘Rendelés előtt’ as well as self-referential parts on making the film. Sweet Rush is dedicated to Edward Kłosiński. The film was shot on location in Grudziądz.

We have chosen the following of the surviving archival materials for the exhibition:

1. Two sketchbooks in which the director made sketches and notes for the film.

2. The director’s copy of the short story ‘Tatarak’ with his notes and underscored passages.

3. The screenplay, which the director continued to rework during the shooting of the film.

4. Two letters from Wajda to Olga Tokarczuk, from 2007 and 2008.

5. Japanese poster for the film.

The Maids of Wilko (1979) is another adaptation of a piece by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, a homage to the writer. The film tells the story of Wiktor, who is going through a crisis in the aftermath of his friend’s death and decides to take a rest at his uncle’s farmstead in Rożki, near the manor of Wilko. His return to the place of his youth rekindles memories of it and the people he met there fifteen years previously. The manor is inhabited by several sisters, all of whom used to have a crush on Wiktor (great performances by Stanisława Celińska, Anna Seniuk, Christine Pascal, and Krystyna Zachwatowicz).

A Polish-French co-production, the film was nominated for the Academy Award in the foreign language category and received the Special Award of the Jury during the Polish Film Festival in Gdańsk. Andrzej Wajda used Karol Szymanowski’s Songs from Kurpie as the theme music in the film. 

Some of the relevant materials preserved in the Andrzej Wajda Archive include:

1.       Shooting script of The Maids of Wilko prepared by Andrzej Wajda and Edward Kłosiński on the basis of Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz’s short story. It contains the director’s comments and sketches in addition to passages underlined by him.

2.       Sheets with Wajda’s working notes, including the layout of some scenes, a set design sketch, a drawn portrait of one of the female characters, and a description of the plot.

3.       Letters from Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz to Andrzej Wajda; he writes in one of them: ‘I am still impressed by your film and I can’t stop thinking about it. I have actually been overtaken by real fear, fearing that you might feel offended by my minor remarks. It is indeed an unheard-of audacity to voice remarks to such a great artist and excellent professional. But you granted me the authority to do it, as it were, by drawing me into collaboration on this superb work.

4.       French poster for the film, designed by Roman Cieślewicz.

5.       The author actually cameos in one of the final scenes of The Maids of Wilko and the film is dedicated to him. Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz died one year after the premiere.   


In September, to celebrate the centenary of Stanisław Lem’s birth, the Manggha Museum has prepared an exhibition focusing on joint projects by the world-famous Krakow-based author and Andrzej Wajda. In his work, the director often looked to literature for plots for his films. He felt the desire to adapt Lem’s works for the screen several times. He and the writer worked together on such projects as The Futurological Congress and Invasion from Aldebaran, but regrettably both remained unrealized. The two artists held each other’s work in high esteem, as indicated by their surviving correspondence and numerous statements in their notebooks.

Relevant items in the Andrzej Wajda Archive include for example:

1. Notebooks in which Andrzej Wajda wrote ‘I have known two men with signs of genius – Lem and Kantor,’ and a suggestion to create a LEMOTHEQUE. In the last year of his life, Wajda wrote in his notes that he would like to revisit his idea to make the film Invasion from Aldebaran.

2. Screenplay for a television film Invasion from Aldebaran written in 1972.

3. Edward Żebrowski’s summary for a screenplay of the never-made film The Futurological Congress, with Andrzej Wajda’s added remarks and commentaries.

4. Correspondence exchanged between Stanisław Lem and Andrzej Wajda, in which the two artists declare how much they value each others’ works.

5. Kuba Sowiński's poster for the unrealized project of Andrzej Wajda Invasion from Aldebaran.


The film Walesa: Man of Hope, which concludes the Man of… trilogy, reached Polish cinemas on 4 October 2013, but its world premiere has been held on 5 September, at the 70th Venice International Film Festival. The leading role of Lech Wałęsa was played by Robert Więckiewicz, with Agnieszka Grochowska as his wife, Danuta Wałęsa, and the well-known actress Maria Rosaria Omaggio as the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci. As the plot develops, the audience are acquainted with the details of the Solidarity leader’s life, starting with the bloodily-suppressed strikes during the events of December 1970 in Gdańsk, all the way to the famous address he delivered before the combined houses of the US Congress on 15 November 1989, opening with the words ‘We the people’.

The Andrzej Wajda Archive holds various materials created during the making of this film, such as:

1.      The opening sheet of the screenplay Agnieszka Holland wrote in the 1980s for a film entitled Wałęsa.

2.      Telegram from Lech Wałęsa with name-day greetings for Andrzej Wajda.

3.      Letter from Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych (1989), which makes reference to plans to make such a film; the general manager of that studio points out in it that Andrzej Wajda is the only person who could undertake such a project.

4.      Notebooks filled in the course of the production in 2012 and 2013, including e.g. sketches of Wałęsa’s portraits and the director’s notes aiding the shooting of the film. Noteworthy items include a still shot showing Robert Więckiewicz holding a photograph of young Wałęsa in his hand while makeup is being applied to him.

5.      Nobel medal replica that was used as a prop (Lech Wałęsa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983).
6.      Japanese and English posters for the film.

The film received six nominations for the Polish Film Awards: Eagles, for best actor, best set design, and best costume design, among other categories. Walesa. Man of Hope was also the Polish submission for the Oscars in 2013.


This month's presentation covers selected materials relating to one of the director's most significant films – Man of Iron – on the 40th anniversary of its premiere (27 July 1981). The idea for the film was born among the shipyard crew when Wajda was documenting the workers' talks with the government in August 1980. With a screenplay by Aleksander Ścibor-Rylski, the plot follows up on the Birkut family, the protagonists of Man of Marble. Man of Iron became a monument to the Solidarity movement. Years later Wajda said on several occasions that it had been the only film that he made 'to order'.

Man of Iron met with an enthusiastic reception abroad, receiving the Palme d'Or at Cannes and an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film in 1982.

The Andrzej Wajda Archive contains a sizeable collection of materials relating to the making of this film, notably:

1.    Sheets with working notes and sketches. Andrzej Wajda made detailed drawings of the scenes outside the gate of the Gdansk Shipyard, including the one where Birkut's son cries out to the gathering crowd to refrain from reading the propaganda flyers – 'lies out of thin air'.

2.   Notebooks filled with notes and descriptions of the events of August 1980, including the director's conclusion 'need to write Man of Marble 2;' description of the scene that was edited out of the final version, in which Maciej Tomczyk extracts the dead body of an opposition activist from water; a note about the shooting of Mateusz Birkut during the 1970 riots; and sketches made in December 1981, after the imposition of martial law.

3.    1981 notebook calendar used by Andrzej Wajda as a journal during the making and production of Man of Iron.

4.  Congratulatory telegrams that Andrzej Wajda and Krystyna Zachwatowicz received after the award of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, including cables from Jerzy Kawalerowicz and Zygmunt Wójcik, who were busy on the set of Austeria at the time.

5.   Clapperboard kept as a memento.

6.   Two posters for the film, designed by Marcin Mroszczak and Rafał Olbiński.


The director’s preparations for making the film Man of Marble began as early as the 1960s. The first draft for it was written in 1963, but the script was rejected for political reasons. It was not until 1976 that Andrzej Wajda received approval for making the film, which finally reached the cinemas on 25 February 1977. He cast young actors, Krystyna Janda and Jerzy Radziwiłowicz, in the leading roles. Krystyna Zachwatowicz-Wajda also played in that film, as Hanka Tomczyk, the wife of Mateusz Birkut – the shock worker that is the central character around whom the whole story revolves. The music was composed by Andrzej Korzyński. The following materials relating to Man of Marble are preserved in the Andrzej Wajda Archive:

1. Several notebooks; one of them, dating back to 1964, contains the first draft of the cast; another, from 1976, states the final selection of actors and a sketch of the court trial scene based on a Polish Film Chronicle newsreel.

2. Storyboards showing various takes and the sequence of events in the plot. Wajda made detailed drawings for the scene in which an inebriated Birkut rides in a fiacre through the lanes around Krakow’s main Market Square, accompanied by a gypsy band, and also the scene of the protagonist’s goodbye to his wife.

3. 1976 calendar used by the director as a notebook/journal on the set.

4. Posters for the film, including the Japanese and the Persian ones.
Towards the end of his life, Andrzej Wajda said in an interview with reference to Man of Marble: ‘This is the best, the most original script I’ve had at my disposal in my whole long life.’ Wajda followed up on the story of the Birkut family five years later in the film Man of Iron.

March 2021

Some of the oldest mementos and souvenirs kept by Andrzej Wajda in his private archive date back to his childhood. Born on 6 March 1926 in Suwałki, Wajda moved shortly thereafter with his whole family to Radom, where his father was a company commander in the 72nd Infantry Regiment. Items that have survived from his early childhood include an ample collection of photographs depicting the future filmmaker with his parents and brother. In one of these, Andrzej and his brother Leszek, a year younger than him, both of preschool age, are seated on their mother Aniela’s lap, embracing each other tenderly.

The Wajdas often visited their relations in Kraków. One of these trips was well documented: over a dozen photographs have survived, showing Andrzej Wajda and his family strolling around the Old Town and exploring the nooks and narrow streets of the historic city. Andrzej had a unique rapport with his father, whom he accompanied in his travels around the country, studying its history. Wajda senior took his teenage son to art exhibitions, introduced him to fine society, and encouraged him to seek his own path in life. Objects from those school years that have survived to our times include certificates and class photos, but perhaps the most crucial memento from the period is a small friendship book bound in wood, with pro memoriam entries by teachers and schoolmates.

This year’s celebrations of Andrzej Wajda’s 95th birthday provide an opportunity to offer a broader insight into the biography of this great cinema artist, but also prominent theatre director, co-writer of film scripts, civic and social activist, lover of literature, and last but not least, good friend. As with all of us, his story begins with his childhood.
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