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As the Polish critic Michał Oleszczyk has noted, Wajda mastered the game that Strzemiński “proved incapable of grasping: that of making one’s art under the watchful eye of the Communist authorities.” Afterimage is a celebration of “unqualified resistance from a filmmaker who knew exactly how much subterfuge was needed to remain active in a state-approved system of production.” In a final powerful metaphor, Strzemiński finds a job dressing shop-window mannequins. He collapses under the effort and lies in the window on public display, but ignored. A bleak concluding sequence has Nika contemplating the hospital bed where her father died—all she has left of him.

Afterimage may well be the most critical and self-critical film of Wajda’s illustrious career. Strzemiński’s destruction would have made a great fiction feature; that Wajda adheres so closely to the historical record is a further reproach. Wajda, who once aspired to be a painter and studied film in Lodz in the early 1950s, was the same age as Strzemiński’s students. It is more than likely that he was aware of the artist’s suffering even while it was happening. Afterimage is a movie about what Wajda learned then about making art in Poland, as well as over the next six decades.

full: http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/05/17/the-end-of-an-artist-afterimage-wajda/
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