“Language also encodes our past” Andrzej Wajda


Andrzej Wajda, the acclaimed Polish film and theatrical director whose films reflected his country’s turbulent history, has recently been hospitalized and died at the age of 90 Sunday night.

Wajda has became a film-maker only after being rejected by the army in 1939.


He was known specially for his trilogy of war films consisting of:

  • A Generation (1954): it is a story in a working-class section of Warsaw in 1942 about two young men at odds with the Germans occupation of Poland.
  • Kanał (1956): the first film made about the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. It is a story of a company of Home Army resistance fighters escaping the Nazi onslaught through the city’s sewers.
  • Ashes and Diamonds (1958): a story based on the 1948 novel by Polish writer Jerzy Andrzejewski. The story, at the close of World War II, is about a young resistance fighter who assassinates the wrong man.

Wajda has been nominated for four of his films for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film:

  • The Promised Land (1975): a film based on the 1898 novel by the Nobel laureate Władysław Reymont, reveals a city in the midst of industrialization. The main characters are three men who become partners to build a textile factory offer a microcosm of social classes and ethnic diversity.
  • The Maids of Wilko (1979): an adaptation of Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz’s prose which results to be a peaceful film with little action, but one that touches your emotions. We can glimpse into the past and feel how a man regrets the mistakes of his youth and how his inaction left four women longing for him.
  • Man of Iron (1981): Mateusz Birkut is the main character of a story of an exemplary worker of the Stalinist period of socialist Poland, whose life is followed and recorded by a film school student who writes about him in her thesis. The film shows us the situation of Poland during the 50ties and the political circumstances of the 70ties.
  • Katyń (2007): a real-life story of incidents in April and May of 1940 when, on government orders, more than 22,000 Polish citizens, of whom half of them were military officers, were murdered by the the Soviet secret police in order to wipe out Poland’s intelligentsia.

He has received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2000 and he made more than 40 films in all. During his life, Wajda defied a repressive communist government and captivated global audiences. He has become one of the most revered directors in international cinema.

Written by Olga Jeczmyk: Translator-Interpreter, Social Media and Content Manager as well as Communication and Terminology Trainee. Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg.


  • BBC News (2016). Polish film director Andrzej Wajda dies. Available at: http://bbc.in/2dNAdsO (Accessed: 11 October 2016).
  • Mokrzycka-Pokora, Monika (2003 – 2016). Andrzej Wajda. Available at: http://bit.ly/2ecauwK (Accessed: 11 October 2016).
  • Smith, Harrison (2016). Andrzej Wajda, visionary Polish filmmaker, dies at 90. Available at: http://wapo.st/2e6txow (Accessed: 11 October 2016).
  • Warsaw, A.F.-P. in (2016) Acclaimed polish film director Andrzej Wajda dies aged 90. Available at: http://bit.ly/2dNyJ1C (Accessed: 11 October 2016).