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Working in the embassy in Paris


Evenings in the cinema
Julia Hartwig Poet
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Well, my time was taken up because in the evenings I used to go to the cinema a great deal over there since these films weren't being shown in Poland. I went to the theatre, to the opera and to concerts. Of course, I always sat in the cheapest seats because I had no money. But even in the cheap seats, one could hear just as well and see quite well, too; if one had opera glasses it wasn't too bad. So I attended all the theatre performances of that period but there was one other thing that really drew me in, namely, I found out that in Paris in the Musée de l'Homme there was a cinémathèque. When I learned about that, I asked if I could join. 'You have a membership card to the Bibliothèque Nationale, yes, or course, you're most welcome'. I saw a huge number of the interesting films which they had there; of course, they have hundreds, I only saw a fraction. I saw, among others, all of Buñuel's films and I was amazed. I'm a great admirer of Buñuel. I noticed that he had made a huge number of films which included a great deal of poor quality films. So it wasn't really worth watching except that in order to find this out, it was worth watching. Because that means that someone who's a genius can from time to time write or create something that's really good but in addition to this, there's just ordinary everyday work which, even if the screenplay isn't so interesting, he still goes on to make the film.

No właściwie to mi pochłaniało czas, bo wieczorami także chodziłam dużo do kina tam – bo tych filmów nie było w Polsce – chodziłam do teatrów, chodziłam na opery, chodziłam na koncerty. Oczywiście wszędzie na trzecie miejsca, bo nie miałam pieniędzy. Ale z tych trzecich miejsc tak samo słychać dobrze, a nawet i właściwie widać dobrze, troszkę... jak się ma lornetkę, to nie jest najgorzej. Więc mam zaliczony jak gdyby cały ten okres teatralny, ale także coś takiego, co mnie bardzo wciągnęło, mianowicie dowiedziałam się, że jest w Paryżu w Musée de l'Homme jest cinémathèque’a, no więc jak się o tym dowiedziałam, to pytałam czy można tam. „A Pani ma legitymację z Bibliothèque Nationale, oczywiście, bardzo prosimy”. I tam obejrzałam, można powiedzieć, no gros ciekawych filmów, które mieli – no mają setki oczywiście, ja obejrzałam tylko część. Między innymi oglądałam na przykład całego Buñuela i to było dla mnie takie zaskakujące. Jestem wielkim... wielką wielbicielką Buñuela. Między innymi właśnie zwróciłam uwagę jak, że on po prostu nakręcił masę filmów w tym bardzo dużo bardzo słabych filmów. Także w ogóle nie warto... nie warto było to oglądać, ale po to, by się tego dowiedzieć, to już było warto. Bo to znaczy, że człowiek genialny od czasu do czasu pisze coś naprawdę dobrego czy... czy tworzy, no ale poza tym jeszcze po prostu no jest taka codzienna praca, nawet jak ma mniej ciekawy scenariusz, to jednak to robi.

Born to a Polish father and a Russian mother, Julia Hartwig (1921-2017) was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and author of children's books. She studied at the University of Warsaw, the Catholic University in Lublin and the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Czesław Miłosz called her 'the grande dame of Polish poetry'. Julia Hartwig was one of the few poets in Poland who made masterly use of poetic prose. She translated poems by Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Cendrars and Supervielle, and published monographs on Apollinaire and Gerard de Nerval. She also translated from English, and published a large anthology of American poetry which she co-edited in 1992 with her late husband, the poet Artur Międzyrzecki.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Paris, Musée de l’Homme, Poland, Luis Buñuel

Duration: 1 minute, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2010

Date story went live: 06 June 2011