Polish Cinema: Everything for Sale (Andrzej Wajda, 1969, Poland)

Everything for Sale, Andrzej Wajda’s tribute to the late Zbigniew Cybulski, is one of the director’s loosest and most improvised-feeling works. From the opening credits, with their bright multi-colored text overlaid against a backdrop of rock music, the film feels much more a product of its time than other films in the Wajda oeuvre. In form and content, the film feels at times a pastiche of other great directors of the era. The impromptu style echoes Godard and the French New Wave, while the “meta” aspect of the film recalls Fellini’s great works. Even the film within the film, the titular Everything for Sale, is a clear homage to Ingmar Bergman. 
Everything for Sale is also one of the more esoteric films in the Wajda canon, as it requires an understanding of the film scene in Poland at the time of its release to truly appreciate it. The film tells the story of an actor who - like the real-life Cybulski - dies in a train accident. Cybulski was a larger than life character, whose personal life was the subject of great speculation in the tabloids. His stand-in in the film is likewise the subject of speculation, and the film addresses the question of where the actor ends and the person begins. Playing into this theme, all the actors in the film are effectively playing themselves. There is definitely an element of self-parody - for example, Daniel (Daniel Olbrychski) does not mourn the death of the Cybulski character, but instead becomes angered that he is continuously expected to play roles made for Cybulski. Even Wajda himself has a clear stand-in with the director, Andrzej (Andrzej Lapicki).
While Everything for Sale is unique among Wajda’s films, and offers some insightful self-critique and critique of the shallowness of the film industry more generally, its self-referential nature has made it feel more dated than other Wajda films.


6/10

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