Polish Oscar winner makes first film about Lech Walesa

Thu Nov 24, 2011 2:17pm EST
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By Dagmara Leszkowicz

WARSAW (Reuters) - Lech Walesa will finally see his life made into a movie, more than three decades after the shipyard electrician launched the Solidarity union that helped topple communism in Eastern Europe.

On Thursday, Oscar-winning Polish director Andrzej Wajda began filming the first biopic about Walesa, who remains a respected but controversial figure.

While Walesa is revered abroad for his courageous leadership of the first independent trade union under communism and his imprisonment under martial law, he is a more divisive figure at home because of his record as Poland's first post-communist president and his often combative style.

"I don't want to, but I have to," Wajda, 85, told a news conference, using one of Walesa's famous sayings when the Nobel Peace Prize winner ran for office for the first time.

The veteran filmmaker said he had spoken to Walesa about making the movie and he did not object.

"I think if he didn't trust me, he would not let me make this film," said Wajda, who was also a member of Solidarity's advisory committee in the early 1980s and appeared at Gdansk shipyard in 1980 during the famous strike.

The film's writer said the movie, which will be called "Walesa," aimed to show the most famous living Pole as a human being, not just an icon.

"I agreed to write a script because the director told me that he didn't want to raise another Walesa monument," said Janusz Glowacki, who wrote the screenplay.   Continued...