Double Vision: My Life in Film by Andrzej Wajda provides an informal, accessible, and concise glance into the creative process of one of Poland’s most renowned filmmakers. Through a series of humorous, honest, and insightful anecdotes, Wajda presents an animated reflection of his pioneering, and largely self-taught, experience as a fledgling director during the nascent development of the film industry in Poland.
In the absence of formal training early in his career, Wajda relied heavily on observation and personal experience, not only to serve as a basis for developing the narrative, but also to recreate the emotional honesty of the story. By drawing from his environment, it is inevitable that Wajda’s films reflected the political evolution of Poland. His first film, Ashes and Diamonds, chronicles the final hours of a fictional young revolutionary who inadvertently assassinates the wrong man. But more importantly, what Wajda documents on film is a historically accurate and tragic portrait of the postwar lost generation accustomed to the turbulence of war who find themselves unable to adjust to the “uncertainty” of peace.
It is Wajda’s ability to convey historical truth through fictional storylines that illustrates his commitment to elevating the role of cinema from serving merely as a vehicle for entertainment to creating a more universal and accessible public art form. On the subject of film schools and its effect on the creation of art, Wajda remarks:
The formation of any artist ought to be accomplished through a single discipline, if the future artist’s goal is to learn the art, not simply the technique. My advice to young, would-be filmmakers is to apprentice themselves in three arts: music, literature and painting. Each one of these areas has a link to the world of film and through these related studies the student can draw his or her own conclusion.
Film schools pride themselves on teaching their students all three disciplines, once over lightly. The only problem is, music appreciation is not music, the history and theory of literature are not literature, the awareness of the graphic arts is not painting.
Double Vision: My Life in Film presents a clear, honest, and unencumbered introduction to the evolution of a film, from the germ of idea to its realization at the premiere. Wajda’s infectious energy and social conscience resonates throughout the book, and provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind of an optimistic, personable, and dedicated artist. Humble and self-effacing, Wajda’s personal integrity, humanism, and creative passion are revealed through his candid thoughts on the importance of interweaving reality and dreams, complexity and accessibility, and art and life.
Acquarello, 2001 [reprinted]