The marble man

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German title The marble man
Original title Człowiek z marmuru
Country of production Poland
original language Polish
Publishing year 1977
length 157 minutes
Director Andrzej Wajda
script Aleksander Ścibor-Rylski
production Zespół Filmowy X
music Andrzej Korzyński
camera Edward Kłosiński
cut Halina Prugar

The Marble Man is a Polish feature film from 1977.


The young film student Agnieszka wants to make her diploma film about the heroes of the work of the 1950s. While doing research, she comes across marble statues from this period in a museum archive. She is particularly fascinated by one of these statues. It depicts the bricklayer Mateusz Birkut. First of all, it shows film clips from the television archives. The director Jerzy Burski had made two documentaries about Birkut in the 1950s. She visits the now famous film director and talks to him about Birkut. He tells her the story of the set shooting of a bricklayer record when building the town of Nowa Huta . Together with the party secretary Jodła, Burski had selected and prepared the young Mateusz Birkut and his team of masons to process 28,000 bricks in one shift. The record succeeds. Birkut processes over 30,000 stones and becomes the new hero of work. He is now rising and, together with his colleague Wincenty Witek, demonstrates his new economic working principle to bricklayers across the country. During one of these demonstrations he was assassinated. He burns both hands and can no longer work as a bricklayer.

Birkut's friend Witek is suspected of the attack and arrested. Birkut tries to get his friend released because he is convinced that he is innocent. In these efforts the staunch communist loses faith in the system. He is finally summoned to witness the Witek trial and the state is honestly settled. Birkut was then imprisoned for four years. When he was released, he was rehabilitated, but his girlfriend Hanka left him. Hanka now works as a waitress in a café in Zakopane . Documentary filmmaker Agnieszka visits Hanka in Zakopane and is thus led on the trail of Mateusz and Hanka's son. When Agnieszka presented her previous material in Warsaw , she was not allowed to finish the film. She no longer receives any footage and the camera is withdrawn from her. The young woman withdraws with her father in resignation. However, he can convince her that she will at least finish the story for him. She is supposed to find Mateusz Birkut and talk to him. To do this, she goes to Danzig . Maciej Tomczyk, Birkut's son, works there at the Lenin shipyard . She learns from him that his father has already died. Together with Maciej, she goes back to television in Warsaw.


Aleksander Ścibor-Rylski's screenplay was written in the early 1960s. However, it was rejected by the Polish censors after reading the script. The figure of Agnieszka is modeled on the Polish writer Agnieszka Osiecka , who Ścibor and Wajda met as a young film student. The script was not released until the 1970s.

The film tells its story on several nested levels. Andrzej Wajda and cameraman Edward Kłosiński added black and white scenes with the main character in the same style to original documentary clips from the Polish newsreel . The play scenes with the documentary filmmaker Agnieszka are in color, as are the flashbacks to the 1950s that accompany the stories of her interviewees. The production design created Allan Starski . Since the apartment blocks in Nowa Huta had already turned black in the 1970s, he built new construction sites outside of Nowa Huta. For the later scenes in the game, residents and the film team in Nowa Huta wiped some houses down so that they looked like new.

The film premiered in Poland on February 25, 1977. Initially, however, the film was not released for export. However, the French distributor of Andrzej Wajda organized an unannounced screening of the film during the 1978 Cannes Film Festival . However, he could not take part in the competition for the Golden Palm . Nevertheless, the film received an award from an independent jury.


"A very demanding film, staged without hatred and malice, despite unmasking questions of a certain sadness."

“The Marble Man” is a masterpiece on all levels: as a key political film, as a passionate drama of a quest, as a reflection on cinema. It is a masterpiece because these films do not exist side by side in the film without relationship, but rather condition and permeate each other. "

- Die Zeit , August 24, 1979



  • Pia Conti: "The man made of marble". in film positions VSETH & VSU , Ed .: Science Fiction. - Andrzej Wajda. Documentation 1990. Association of Students at the University of VSU, Zurich 1990, without ISBN, pp. 48–57

Web links


  1. cf. Bonus material from the Polish DVD
  2. The Man of Marble. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed July 23, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  3. Time (August 24, 1979)