Man of Iron

Director: Andrzej Wajda
Year Released: 1981
Rating: 2.0

An alcoholic journalist is sent to dig up details on the leader of a strike (Jerzy Radziwilowicz) and gets an education in the struggle by the workers in Poland for fair treatment, as well as the emerging Solidarity movement and its leader, Lech Walesa (who shows up in this to give his Shining Approval). The subject matter is incredibly important for the Polish people and it's all intended to be for a good cause (as propaganda, of course), but Wajda's handling of the material is in question: the flashbacks tend to confuse instead of illuminate the narrative (which is an awkward hybrid of fiction and documentary) and as a whole the picture is basically one extended polemic and given to long dissertations about freedom, humanity, etc., which would be fine if the dramatic aspects were as pronounced (even the relationship between Radziwilowicz and Krystyna Janda feels tacked on). This and Man of Marble have their staunch defenders, but I think Wajda's early war films (including Ashes and Diamonds) are his real triumphs.