Oscar Movies: Man of Iron (1981)–Wajda’s Political Epic


Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda’s Oscar-nominated sequel to his 1972 epic Man of Marble.

Both films deal with the relationship of labor leaders to their communist leaders and the difficulties of the media to cover that story.

It adds footage from the real-life strikes led by Lech Walesa that took place during the film’s production.

There are few scenes with Walesa, who appears as a guest at the wedding of the story’s hero. That man, Tomczyk, is the son of Birkut, the labor leader in Man of Mar.  He’s played by the actor Jerzy Radziwilowicz, who played Birkut in the first film.

In Man of Marble, a student filmmaker in late 1970s Poland tried to uncover the story of Birkut, a working-class hero of the 1950s who was later discredited and killed in a 1970 strike demonstration.

Here, Winkiel (Marian Opania), an alcoholic radio journalist, is assigned by the state to cover the rise of Tomczyk, but also discredit him and the Solidarity movement.

Man of Iron expands on the story of its predecessor while provocatively exploring similar issues.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Best Foreign Language Film

Oscar Awards: None

The winner was the Hungarian film Mephisto.


Running time: 140 minutes.

Released: July 27, 1981