Abstract

This review essay examines the myth of Lech Wałęsa in Andrzej Wajda’s film Man of Hope and the events before and during the Solidarity era in Poland. Man of Hope completes Wajda’s ambitious historical trilogy, consisting earlier of Man of Marble and Man of Iron. The film, in its attempt to restore myth, significantly departs from Wajda’s earlier post-ideological documentary style, which was characteristic of the cinema of moral anxiety. Wajda’s interpretation of the myth of Wałęsa as well as of Wajda’s (and Wałęsa’s) more ideological critics, notably Sławomir Cenckiewicz in Człowiek z teczki (Man with a Police File), does not always square well with the historical facts. Other recent perspectives on Wałęsa, including Danuta Wałęsa’s memoir, are crucial for a more rounded picture. Oriana Fallaci’s assessment of postmodern leaders, including Wałęsa, as much diminished in stature but more believable as real historical figures, seems the most appropriate judgment.

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