Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Women in Film: Elżbieta Czyżewska

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Elżbieta Czyżewska (1938-2010) was a Polish actress who constantly fought the boundaries of a close-minded communist backdrop in her native city of Warsaw. She notoriously established a student satirical theatre while studying at the State Academy of Theatre in Warsaw - an apparent retaliation towards the faculty dean who advised her to obtain a breast reduction if she was serious about playing romantic roles. Elżbieta famously worked with Andrzej Wajda in Everything for Sale (1968) but she is primarily remembered for her performance in Wojciech Has' historical epic, The Saragossa Manuscript (1965). Her first marriage was to noted director, screenwriter, dramatist and actor Jerzy Skolimowski which lasted from 1959-1965. It was also around this time that Elżbieta revealed her talents on stage, receiving awards for role in Arthur Miller's After the Fall. She became an outcast in Poland after her marriage to the American writer and historian David Halberstam who constantly criticised the oppressive regime. Her new life in the United States led to many significant contributions to theatre and film, however, her second marriage would have the same fate as the first, ending in divorce in 1977. Elżbieta died of cancer at 72 in New York City, leaving behind a lifetime of artistic endeavours in both Poland and the United States.

Still from The Saragossa Manuscript (1965)

Still from Wife for an Australian (1963) 

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