Legendary Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda tackles the story of another of his country’s legends — former dockworker, Solidarity founder, and eventual Polish president Lech Walesa — in this epic, decades-spanning biopic.
Walesa. Man of Hope.
Few people can claim to have profoundly changed the world in which they found themselves. Among those few, undoubtedly, is Lech Walesa, an ordinary shipyard worker and electrician who found himself inadvertently leading a quiet revolution that ended up not only toppling a dictatorship in his own country, but also eating away at the crumbling edifice of the Soviet empire in the 1980s.
Andrzej Wajda, Poland's greatest filmmaker, and a man who has made his own telling artistic contribution over six decades, turns to Walesa as a subject, dramatizing both the public and private sides of this deceptively simple — but actually very complex — man. Structuring his film around an interview that Walesa (Robert Wieckiewicz) gives to the famed Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci (Maria Rosaria Omaggio) allows Wajda to move easily between past and present, between the great events of the era and the personal life of Lech and his wife Danuta (Agnieszka Grochowska). Archival footage of the strikes, food shortages, protests, martial law, and Walesa's visit with Pope John Paul II situates us in the moment, but also frees Wajda to take a far more intimate look at what went on behind the doors of the cramped apartment that this working couple shared with their ever-growing family. These two strong personalities certainly had their moments: Walesa was not an easy man as he restlessly attempted to balance the needs of home with the responsibilities of power.
Wajda has always been a master at carefully
etching his characters against the
broader sweep of history — The Promised
Land (75), Danton (83), and Korczak (90) are just three
examples that spring to mind — and in
Walesa. Man of Hope. these skills are utilized
to the utmost.