In 1976, a young woman in Krakow is making her diploma film, looking behind the scenes at the life of a 1950s bricklayer, Birkut, who was briefly a proletariat hero, at how that heroism was created, and what became of him. She gets hold of outtakes and censored footage and interviews the man's friends, ex-wife, and the filmmaker who made him a hero. A portrait of Birkut emerges: he believed in the workers' revolution, in building housing for all, and his very virtues were his undoing. Her hard-driving style and the content of the film unnerve her supervisor, who kills the project with the excuse she's over budget. Is there any way she can push the film to completion?Written by
'Man of marble' is usually seen as an bold, anti-communist movie which is strikingly accurate at the deep level of practices within communist countries. Indeed, trough a story of a student who tries to make a graduation film Wajda beautifully succeeds in describing at the same time the soft violence of the '70s in Poland and the totally different hardcore 'prison' violence of the Stalinist regime in the 50's. Hence, it is gradually revealed trough the eye of the camera the contrast between the heroic, raw atmosphere of the first communist years and the light perestroika of the present cinematographic time. Nonetheless, there is a common thread throughout the movie as the all-pervading party monopoly deeply affects everybody and no one has the option of an Utopian escape.
The no exit strategy is probably for me the main theme of the movie. The rebellious young girl who tries to see beneath the propaganda images is also on psychoanalytical trip to confront her family history.
There are two scenes which can more or less summaries the story: in the first one, we can see her right at the beginning in a rough quarrel with her Television supervisor, and we can consequently grasp the theme of the incessant conflict with the authority. However, if on the one level wecan see her rejecting the father figure, on the second level we can witness desire as the film maker is practically possessing the hero statue which she finds in a basement of a museum.
Well, basically the catch of the movie is the intertwine of the story with the girl on the way of her desire and the political level which makes this trip also a trip of a historical clearing up. And, in the strange development of we find that the "fake" hero is in fact an authentic one and that we did know the secret of the narrative - the "hero"(the father, the phallus) of the propaganda is the "true" hero, as he had to face real tough moral problems and he lived "the life in truth" . The heroine can develop at last real emotional attachment with the paternal image and she eventually can end her trip by accepting an ally and a friend in the final scene.
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