Andrzej Wajda's final film, Afterimage, is an angry and essential biopic centered around avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminiski, who stood against Stalinist orthodoxy in order to preserve his artistic freedom, uncompromising in his desire to advance his ideas about the fundamental, individualistic nature of art and what it means for personal expression. Andrzej Wajda's Afterimage documents a renowned and respected Polish artist who is slowly ostracized for his unwillingness to conform to the desires of the establishment, rejecting the notion that all artwork must be rooted in social realism and political doctrine, unrelenting in his assertion that art is intangible, personal, and subjective. Wajda's film juxtaposes the individualistic nature of artwork and artistic expression with the collectivist nature of politics, detailing how socialistic practices of Marx Doctrine stand intrinsically at odds with creativity and expression, with authoritative government forces, whether from the right or left-side of the political spectrum, only respecting art that conforms to their ideology, which in this case was social realism, which can be used as a form of propaganda to comfort, control, and conform the masses to the vision of the establishment. Afterimage rightfully touches on how art itself, the personal freedom of expression, the various styles and meanings it can present to the world, is intrinsically at odds with the collectivist doctrine of cultural Marxism, where egalitarianism is obtained through forceful authoritative power, which retrains the individuals ability to think differently about the world around them, and form their own sense of expression through their art, regardless if it conforms to the mainstream perspective of how things should be. This idea that art exists solely for social change is absolutely destroyed by Andrzej Wajda in Afterimage, as the film reveals how art was easily reduced to government propaganda by this regime, with Wajda using this biopic to deconstruct how art itself is first and foremost the most liberal form of individualism and expression we as humans have, eviscerating this idea that art must be about larger social issues in order to be a valid or worth producing, which is what Wladyslaw Strzeminiski faced with the rise of the Police United Workers Party. Art, or personal expression, is individualistic by nature, with the creative process being something that manifests itself from a place of personal intimacy, yet the reason art is so threatening to authoritative regimes and various power structures is because while it comes from a deeply personal, individualistic place it has the power to transcend the individual and speak to the masses when shared, triggering some form of emotional or intellectual response from others, tapping into our shared humanity. A passionate biopic of one of Poland's most renowned artists, Andrzej Wajda's Afterimage is a needed expose into the true nature of art, where liberal, personal expression should never be censored or restricted, with art being a deeply personal experience that has the ability to inflict change in the collective through individual expression, not government force.
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