From the Editor
December 30, 2016
Andrzej Wajda, an Academy Award-winning Polish film director and one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, died in early October at the age of 90. He left behind a legacy of internationally acclaimed movies inspired by his country’s convoluted history.
Wajda’s 40 or so films made him an essential figure in Polish culture. Born in 1926, he grew up amid the misery and suffering that his country endured during World War II and afterwards. He was persistent in expressing this pain in his films, which eventually made him part of the collective consciousness of the Polish people.
A friend from Columbia University in New York once told me how sad he was to see Mikhail Gorbachev take over power in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s and usher in his perestroika reforms. This crack of freedom, my friend lamented, would actually harm Russia because it would make its people less miserable, while misery and suffering enrich nations and stimulate them culturally.
Sadly, role models such as Wajda are slowly but surely becoming obsolete. People today are guided by different values, tending to focus on the practical aspects of life rather than the romantic ones.
But there is a good chance that Wajda will continue to inspire his countrymen after his death. People need moral authorities like him, and his enduring spirit will live on in his films.