Majewski, Janusz

   Janusz Majewski began his distinguished career in the 1960s with films in a variety of genres. Originally trained as an architect, then as a director at the Łódź Film School, Majewski started his career as an art director and a documentary filmmaker. His Private Fleischer's Photo Album (Album Fleischera, 1963), which portrays the war through the eyes of an ordinary German soldier, became a classic example of Polish documentary cinema. Majewski also made a number of successful television films, mostly mysteries, such as Avatar, or the Exchange of Souls (Awatar, czyli zamiana dusz, 1967), and I Am Burning (Ja gore, 1968). His range is demonstrated by another well-received television drama, the psychological study The Black Gown (Czarna suknia, 1967), with Ida Kamińska and Aleksandra Śląska.
   Part of the Third Polish Cinema, Majewski is mostly known for his well-crafted, stylish literary adaptations made in the late 1960s and the 1970s. He began with a black comedy, The Lodger (Sublokator, 1967), which was followed by a crime film, A Criminal Who Stole a Crime (Zbrodniarz, który ukradł zbrodnię, 1969), frequently cited as one of the best Polish crime films. In The Bear (Lokis, 1970), based on Prosper Merimee's short story, Majewski continued his fascination with the horror genre. Critical acclaim, however, allowed him to make subtle adaptations of the prewar Polish literary canon: Jealousy and Medicine (Zazdrość i medycyna, 1973), based on Michał Choromanski's novel, and Hotel Pacific (Zaklęte rewiry, 1975), an adaptation of Henryk Worcell's fiction. Majewski's films made in the late 1970s were also set in the past. The Gorgon Affair (Sprawa Gorgonowej, 1977) and The Lesson of a Dead Language (Lekcja martwego języka, 1979) established his name as a filmmaker sensitive to the nuances of the past and able to capture its tone. The former, scripted by Bolesław Michałek and set in the 1930s, tells about the actual trial of Rita Gorgon (Ewa Dałkowska), who was accused of murdering the teenage daughter of her employer and lover. The latter, based on Andrzej Kusniewicz's novel, concerns the demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the end of a historical epoch.
   Apart from heading the Polish Filmmakers Association from 1983 to 1990, Majewski also continued his successful career with the television series Queen Bona (Królowa Bona, 1980) and its theatrical version produced in 1982, An Epitaph for Barbara Radziwiłł (Epitafium dla Barbarary Radziwiłłówny), starring Anna Dymna, Jerzy Zelnik, and Aleksandra Śląska. In 1985 he directed his biggest commercial success, Deserters (C. K. Dezerterzy), a barrack comedy set in 1918. The popularity of this film resulted in the 1998 sequel titled Deserters' Gold (Złoto dezerterów). Also in the late 1990s, Majewski produced two television series, Bar Atlantic (1996) and Habitation (Siedlisko, 1998).
   Other films: Salty Rose (Słona róza, 1982), Day-Dream (Mrzonka, TV, 1985), Black Ravine (Czarny wąwóz, 1989), After the Season (Po sezonie, 2006).
   Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema by Marek Haltof

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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