Andrzej Wajda on THE MAIDS OF WILKO


‘The Maids of Wilko’

From Andrzej Wajda’s website, here is the Polish master reflecting on why The Maids of Wilko marked a significant change in his filmmaking:

“Luckily, I have never been crazy about politics in film. It is the cinema and its special world which I love and where I seek personal fulfilment. That is why I have often also filmed stories without current political import.

The story The Maids from Wilko had been on my mind for a long time. The idea sprang up following the success of The Birch Wood at home and abroad. Yet the final decision was also motivated by political necessity. After producing the politically charged Man of Marble it seemed advisable to put the censor off the scent for a while.

But while allowing the film bosses to breathe a sigh of relief, the decision turned my life into a nightmare. The last two, or rather three, films I made—starting with Promised Land—were made at a hectic pace, which unfortunately made itself felt in the outcome. However, the delicate fabric of The Maids from Wilko required an entirely different approach. As a result, the greatest difficulty I experienced when making this film was the conflict between my inner pace and the slow pace of the story.

It was my wife Krystyna, seriously alarmed by my nervous condition, who finally made me understand that I was still moving in the rhythm of my previous film, Man of Marble, that is at a rapid pace, specific to a political film, which, by its very nature, is based on action, whereas now we were dealing with entirely different material…

From that moment on the work started to flow quite naturally, matching the languid rhythm of the lives of the Wilko women. At last it was possible for me to study their faces, to contemplate the sun filtering through the green fronds overhanging the porch, to enjoy the soft outlines of the landscape, and to observe the daily household activities, including those in the pantry, so beautifully reconstructed by Krystyna Zachwatowicz.

When I ask myself what The Maids from Wilko is about, the best answer I can find is that it deals with all sorts of things one cannot clearly define… There is a very fine thread connecting us with the story, as if we were trying to retrieve something precious and long lost, the happier memories of our bygone childhood days. What the film reveals is a world rooted in a clearly defined system of values. The women in the film know very well what is not allowed, where one has to stop. But it was by no means easy to convey this on the screen.”

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