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on 20 November 2005
In this film, Wajda explores the world of propaganda film, the glorification of the worker, and the reality that lies behind it. Birkut (played with total conviction by Jerzy Radzwilowicz) is built up as a worker's hero in Stalinist Poland because a person making a film wants to prove, for propaganda purposes, that Birkut can lay more bricks than anyone else, and so he is challenged to reach a new record figure. Many years later, a young film student, Agnieszka, played with just the right mix of idealism and strong-headedness by the great Krystyna Janda, is puzzled why Birkut should have fallen from favour with the authorities, and starts to uncover a can of worms turned into a nest of vipers by corruption, propaganda, and the Communist system. Wajda here is at his most openly critical of totalitarianism, and when the film first came out to rave reviews, he was admired for the bravery of his vision. A must for anyone trying to understand what living under Eastern bloc Communism was really like, and a gripping story too, with some shocking moments. This is the reason why many Poles don't want to watch the movie any more - ironically, the highest compliment that can be given. It is too close to the truth that many people in this now thoroughly Westernised country would rather forget.
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on 20 January 2014
I have just watched this film for a second time. My Polish teacher lent it to me. My grandfather left Poland just before WWII. I myself have only visited my Polish cousins there once, so I cannot claim to understand this film like my cousins would, having begun their lives under Communism. I am, I know, an interested outsider. As such, the film is puzzling to begin with because it feels like a propaganda film. Slowly, you realise that it is an anti-propaganda film. We are shown the propaganda and then the reality behind it. As Wajda made this film before the end of Communism in Poland, he leaves a lot uncommented, but you can work it all out for yourself from the story. The viewer is placed in Agnieszka's position as a film student doing a research project. We see all the material she finds, we meet all the people she meets and we must decide for ourselves what to make of it all.

For me, the film title works on various levels. A marble statue is a monument but a monument to what exactly? Does the statue actually reflect a real man or a fictitious figure? What is stronger, the man or the myth? Did the myth immortalise or destroy the man? Mateusz Birkut is betrayed by everyone close to him, but most of all he is betrayed by the system. An ex-secret service officer comments that Mateusz took things too "literally" - he believed in building houses for all and in the value of the worker. As the film progresses, this idealism begins to seem ridiculously naive in the face of a cold machine and petty individuals. The system betrays people like Mateusz, the people it is supposed to exist to serve. Mateusz remains brave and loyal throughout but he is like the tree in blossom we see knocked down by a bulldozer early in the film. There is perhaps more hope in the image of the truck getting stuck in the mud and managing finally to break free, but not much more. The real ray of hope is that the last image we see of Mateusz in the news reels we are shown is that of a man battered but not broken by his experiences.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2008
I'm not really sure how this film got made, considering that it is so critical of communism, communist propaganda and a lot of other systems that were in place in Poland in the 1970s, but I'm very glad that it did. I'd heard a lot about it from various sources before watching it, and so was quite apprehensive that it wouldn't live up to the press, but it did. I was expecting a much slower and 'traditionally' more serious film than I got. The film, as I mentioned, covers big themes, but the pace is high. The plot is totally absorbing and a fair bit of the credit for that would have to go to the lead actor and actress, Jerzy Radziwi³owicz and Krystyna Janda.
Radziwi³owicz plays Mateusz Birkut, a bricklayer who is sucked into the communist machinery. While building the infamous Nova Huta (the new communist city near Krakow), he is persuaded to work to break a record of laying more than 30,000 bricks in one shift. He duly does and is elevated to hero status, with posters of him raised around Nova Huta, as well as a marble statue (hence the title of the film). Janda plays a film student trying to make a documentary about Birkut and his times - trying being the optimal word here (I won't say more in order to not give away any more of the plot than I already have). However, I will say that the plot is left wide open at the end, in preparatation for the 'Man of Iron' sequel, which you should definitely buy if you're going to buy 'Man of Marble', because once you've watched this, you'll want to dive straight into the next part.
This a notable piece of work for anyone interested in communism, European cinema or sociology.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2008
I'm not really sure how this film got made, considering that it is so critical of communism, communist propaganda and a lot of other systems that were in place in Poland in the 1970s, but I'm very glad that it did. I'd heard a lot about it from various sources before watching it, and so was quite apprehensive that it wouldn't live up to the press, but it did. I was expecting a much slower and 'traditionally' more serious film than I got. The film, as I mentioned, covers big themes, but the pace is high. The plot is totally absorbing and a fair bit of the credit for that would have to go to the lead actor and actress, Jerzy Radziwi³owicz and Krystyna Janda.
Radziwi³owicz plays Mateusz Birkut, a bricklayer who is sucked into the communist machinery. While building the infamous Nova Huta (the new communist city near Krakow), he is persuaded to work to break a record of laying more than 30,000 bricks in one shift. He duly does and is elevated to hero status, with posters of him raised around Nova Huta, as well as a marble statue (hence the title of the film). Janda plays a film student trying to make a documentary about Birkut and his times - trying being the optimal word here (I won't say more in order to not give away any more of the plot than I already have). However, I will say that the plot is left wide open at the end, in preparatation for the 'Man of Iron' sequel, which you should definitely buy if you're going to buy 'Man of Marble', because once you've watched this, you'll want to dive straight into the next part.
This a notable piece of work for anyone interested in communism, European cinema or sociology.
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on 22 May 2014
Second Run's 2-Disc Special Edition presents a wonderful new restoration of Andrzej Wajda's important, iconic film MAN OF MARBLE.
Not just a great Polish film, but surely ranks as one of the best films of the 1970s. Part political thriller, part historical expose, part rumination on the notion of 'film as truth' this stunning film has (unfathomably) not been released on DVD previously in the UK. It has been worth the wait tho - this new edition, not only with a beautiful, crisp new director-approved transfer, also comes with a second disc of fascinating inteviews with the three of the films key players: director Wajda (obviously); lead actor - the brilliant Krystyna Janda, and 'uncredited' assistant director, the formidable Agnieszka Holland, now a renowned filmmaker in her own right. All three present fascinating stories, insights and perspectives on the film and the times.
An essential purchase for anyone interested in political and world cinema. A superb film given new life in this glorious special edition.
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2015
The use of flashback and newsreel footage in Man of Marble and the investigation by a journalist/filmmaker about the life of a character revealing the tensions of the society that formed him makes this film similar instructure to Citizen Kane. Wajda explains in a 2013 interview(extra) how the film was conceived in the early 1960s, from a newspaper article about Nowa Huta,a socialist model city built in the 1950s. (The story about a bricklayer applying for a job but being turned away since the employment agency only had jobs for steelworkers. The bricklayer was not heard from again but was subsequently recognized as one of the socialist model workers who built Nowa Huta). What links Polish filmmaking and cinema verite is the erosion of the distinction between documentary and fiction. Telling the story foregrounds the constructed nature of documentary `reality'.

Andrzej Wajda was once a documentary filmmaker in post-war Poland who at 1st made films of Stalinist propaganda, indeed Man of Marble uses some of these earlier films of Socialist Realism in the earlier style.Man of Marble shows the creativity that flourished once orthodoxy collapsed during de-Stalinisation.There is an unexpected bloom from the late 50s on.The film is primarily set in the 50s showing the repressions that operated then and later(in the 60s and 70s) which took Wajda 14years to overcome to get to the big screen.Propaganda and censorship worked in tandem. Note the sharp contrast between the images captured by Burski's contrived documentary and the individual eyewitness accounts and recovered deleted footage (presumably rejected on "technical grounds")featured in Agnieszka's school documentary. The fictional narrative progresses through aggressive, cinema-verite styled filmmaking. The effect is an honest, compassionate, and unsystematic film that deconstructs a fabricated political icon, from the illusion of a national hero to the personal struggle of an idealistic, common man. The title refers to the propagandistic marble statues made in Birkut's image.Wadja reveals the use of propaganda and political corruption during the period of Stalinism,and presaged the loosening grip of the Soviets that came with the Solidarity Movement(though the hero's death due to this is seen as a step too far and has to wait until Man of Iron).

What drives the film is the character of Agnieszka(Krystyna Janda) who is fascinated by the story of Mateusz Birkut(Jerzy Radziwilowicz), an exemplary worker of the Stalinist period of socialist Poland,whose life is traced and recorded and decides to uncovers the truth behind the story of the celebrity Stakhanovite `shock-worker' who has now vanished. The Man of Marble shows the tragedy of the people who believed in the sense of communist changes and ended up being destroyed by the system. The actress is the other main character who works closely with the director to develop this unorthodox whirlwind of cigarette-smoking spirit,with her flared jeans,scarf and denim jacket. Agnieszka has trouble making the film from archival sources and museum collections and people who answer her questions vaguely,which takes her on her quixotic search for the hero and tracks down his son in the Gadansk shipyards.There are some brilliant tracking shots along corridors or in vans.The music that accompanies this is a strange kind of uptempo disco jazz.Birkut is driven by an honest spirit of idealism,decency and humility,not the cynicism and lies of the government.See the greater spontaneity of a camera freed from the classical norms.When fiction must bear the burden of truth then people must look to the artist for their reality. Open your mind.
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on 10 August 2014
I would like to know if there are at least english (or even better french) subtitles. lt is not told here ... or if there are not how could I introduce subtitles into the film. Thanks a lot for an answer.
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on 25 May 2014
Amazon is selling this as a 2 disc edition & it's listed as such on the Second Run site but rental (Lovefilm) customers are only being supplied with disc 1
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on 9 April 2016
Perfect
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on 1 August 2014
It made it to the States with no problem! Good movie for a perspective not seen in back here.
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