Jerzy Kawalerowicz has been a major force in post-war Polish cinema, with a career that spans half a century, a creative output of remarkable variety, and films that continue to enjoy the highest critical acclaim. A master craftsman who combines intellectual depth with a keen visual sense, he has said of himself, “I have no artistic credo except this, that I try not to copy myself or others.”
There are perhaps two striking qualities that unite his diverse films: an ability to capture the sweep of history and the texture of social context while penetrating the psychological struggles, the existential plight, of the individuals he portrays; and a mastery of the language of film, particularly in his collaboration with such brilliant cinematographers as Jerzy Lutowski (on the visually stunning Mother Joan of the Angels) and Jerzy Wojcik (on Night Train). Mother Joan of the Angels, 1961 Special Jury Prize winner at Cannes , is widely regarded as the director’s masterpiece, having lost none of its visual and psychological power: a study in the willing submission to limitations on one’s own human nature, and the tensions that result. The film remains one of the classics of Polish and world cinema.
The program Masters from Poland: Polish Film School continues until 27th February.