09 20 Oct '24
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Andrzej Chodakowski, Andrzej Zajaczkowski

Robotnicy '80 (Workers '80)

Edition 1981
90' - 1982 - Documentary - Dialogue: Polish
Director: Andrzej Chodakowski, Andrzej Zajaczkowski With: Lech Badkowski, Tadeusz Fiszbach, Andrzej Gwiazda, Mieczyslaw Jagielski
Poland 1980-1981: Karot Woytila, Lech Walesa, Kozakiewicz (the pole-vaulter), Andrzey Wajda, Krzysztof Zanussi. There are the three best-known Poles, plus the two best-known Polish film-makers. Zanussi dedicated a film to the Pope; Wajda to Gdansk, Walesa and Solidarinosc - the feature film CZLOWIEK Z ZELADA (The Man of Iron), Golden Palm of Cannes '81. There is also "ARBEIDERS '80", a film possibly with less allure, and dealing only with Gdansk, Walesa and Solidarinosc. A real document: for the first time film became the direct witness of a rather important fact and this in a self-conscious, permanent way, with the agreement of the participants and with the concern to make a film capable of spreading the information about the Polish reality as widely as possible.

In April '80 the Gdansk strikers begin to negotiate with the government. This happens inside the shipyards they occupy, with a government delegation, led by Deputy Prime Minister Jagielski. The discussions last for several days and take place in a tense atmosphere. They end with an agreement that confirms the success of the strike led by Lech Walesa. The presence of audio-visual information during the Gdansk negotiations is strictly connected with the views of the future Solidarinosc trade union, at the level of action. Walesa and his comrades negotiate where the strikes are, refusing any secrecy; the debates are broadcasted in full through loudspeakers in a large hall full of delegates, and further, in the shipyards themselves where the striking workers are waiting.

The film emphasises this desire for democracy by first of all giving the floor to the workers. Why are they on strike? How did the strike begin? How did it evolve? Then, by alternating places, such as the negotiating room with the large court where the strikers are standing, and by inserting short sequences, such as the occupation of the shipyards, the printing of pamphlets, the arrival of the official delegation, marching between two hordes of workers: these tremors show that the strike is not over yet. The camera primarily frames the negotiating table, with Lech Walesa and his comrades on one side and Jagielski and the government delegation on the other; this table is present throughout the film. The camera observes, perceives. His privileged situation is underlined again by a short sequence in which, after the usual photographs, the press people - filmed by the crew of "ARBEIDERS '80" - are asked to leave the room, but the film camera stays and again draws all attention to the negotiators. This, let's say, is an extraordinary way to directly connect the spectators to the debate between the Gdansk Strike Committee and the Warsaw government, because, through the "gaze" of the camera, the spectator himself is also the constant and attentive witness of the conversation.

The filmmakers did more than just record the events. The choice of large shots of faces (impassiveness, agility, etc ...) , of gestures, of attitudes (whispering in the ears), the arrangement by editing of the different places and of the different angles of view, give the film a strong narrative and expressive structure. The tension of the negotiations, with their low points, their strong moments, the moments of relaxation, all this can be felt very well when watching the film. Although the outcome of the debate is known, the way the Walesa-Jagielski dialogue is told - and to some extent staged - still retains a certain suspense.

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Andrzej Chodakowski, Andrzej Zajaczkowski


Lech Badkowski, Tadeusz Fiszbach, Andrzej Gwiazda, Mieczyslaw Jagielski

Director of Photography

Michal Bukojemski, Jacek Petrycki


Katarzyna Maciejko-Kowalczyk, Maryla Szymanska, Joanna Wojtulewicz

More information



Countries of production




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