Typing in a correctly spelled 'Man of Iron' into a DVD search-engine and immediately every conceivable configuration of Robert Downing Jnr's "Iron Man" comes up ....presuming that we are both illiterate morons AND couldn't possibly want a 1981 film about Poland - made in Poland.
Even the most news-shy hermit could fail to have heard something about Solidarity, Gdansk and Lech Walesa's rallying, admittedly 30 years ago but now is a time to reflect, with the dust settled.
Like many, I was already familiar with Poland's most well-known (at least in the "west") director Krzysztof Kieslowski but Andrzej Wajda was a name I'd heard but not seen his work. I'm always keen to see movies, especially long ones made about social issues by a native of that country and reviews were all favourable. Buying this Mr Bongo DVD, I was not disappointed.
Some other reviewers have gone into detail about the political ins & outs but it was the film itself I primarily wanted to see and I want to immediately commend both the casting and performance of Marian Opania, as Winkiel, who excellently conveys a very believable TV journalist whose lifestyle may be typical of the profession. We witness and share his hopes and anxieties, from squeezing out the cloth he used to mop up the vodka from the bottle he'd just broken into a toothbrush cup, his other mental and physical angsts and the very real situations of power-cuts and strikes that affect everything, such as the phones.
As Winkiel gets down to the task of reporting on the uprising from the inside, especially of the charismatic leader of the striking shipbuilders, Maciek Tomczyk, whose father was killed in the riots of 1970 and whose wife was detained. As the journalist interviews those around and who know Tomczyk scenes are recreated, including the occasional use of actual news footage which illustrate the various strands leading up to the strike.
Obviously, a lot more than this goes into a riveting two and a half hour film but hopefully, with your appetite whetted, you'll now want to try it yourself. There's a whole canvas here on which Poland is painted and it's an absolutely fascinating one, but still well enough made to be both informative and entertaining.
Highly recommended for those who, like me, want to expand their World Cinema repertoire beyond the easily available/popular but still want to play safe as this is a universal film that just happens to made in the Polish language. If the subject matter is of particular interest too, well, you know it's one for your online shopping cart!