Man of Marble

Man of Marble
Man of Marble

Polish poster advertising the film
Directed by Andrzej Wajda
Written by Aleksander Scibor-Rylski
Starring Krystyna Janda
Jerzy Radziwiłowicz
Tadeusz Lomnicki
Music by Andrzej Korzynski
Release date(s) February 25, 1977 (1977-02-25)
Running time 165 minutes
Country Poland
Language Polish

Man of Marble (Polish: Człowiek z marmuru) is a 1976 Polish film directed by Andrzej Wajda. It chronicles the fall from grace of a fictional heroic Polish bricklayer, Mateusz Birkut (played by Jerzy Radziwiłowicz), who became the Stakhanovite symbol of an over-achieving worker, in Nowa Huta, a new (real life) socialist city near Kraków. Agnieszka, played by Krystyna Janda in her first role, is a young filmmaker who is making her diploma film on Birkut, whose whereabouts seems to have been lost two decades later. The title refers to the propagandistic marble statues made in Birkut's image. It is somewhat of a surprise that Wajda would have been able to make such a film, sub silentio attacking the Socialist Realism of Nowa Huta, revealing 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 it has been acknowledged by Polish film historians that due to censorship the script languished in development hell since 1962.

Agnieszka has trouble making the film from archival sources and museum collections and people who answer her questions vaguely. Her father suggests that if he were making a film on someone, he would like to find that person first. With this inspiration, Agnieszka tracks down Mateusz's son, Maciej, in the Gdańsk Shipyard. (Both father and son, Mateusz and Maciej, are played by the same actor: Jerzy Radziwiłowicz.) Agnieszka learns from Maciej that his father died years ago.

The ending of Man of Marble leaves the death of Mateusz Birkut ambiguous. In his script, Wajda had wanted to reveal that Mateusz had been killed in clashes at the shipyards in 1970, a major confrontation that prefigured the rise of Solidarity ten years later, but he was prevented by censorship. In 1981, Wajda filmed Man of Iron, a follow-up to Man of Marble, which depicts Maciej's subsequent involvement in the Polish anti-Communist workers' movement. Man of Iron explicitly states that Mateusz was killed in the clashes of 1970.[1]



  • Jerzy Radziwiłowicz – Mateusz Birkut / Maciej Tomczyk
  • Krystyna Janda – Agnieszka
  • Tadeusz Łomnicki – Jerzy Burski
  • Jacek Łomnicki – Young Burski
  • Michał Tarkowski – Wincenty Witek
  • Piotr Cieślak – Michalak
  • Wiesław Wójcik – Jodła
  • Krystyna Zachwatowicz – Hanka
  • Magda Teresa Wójcik – Editor
  • Bogusław Sobczuk – TV Producer
  • Leonard Zajączkowski – Leonard Zajączkowski, Cameraman
  • Jacek Domański – Soundman
  • Irena Laskowska – Museum Employee
  • Zdzisław Kozień – Agnieszka’s Father
  • Wiesław Drzewicz – Hanka’s Husband
  • Saskia Taylor – Hanka’s Daughter


The film was entered into the Un Certain Regard section at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival and won the FIPRESCI Prize.[2]


  1. ^ "Man of Iron". University of California Cine Files. March 1982. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Man of Marble". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 

External links

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