In this Oscar-nominated example of activist filmmaking from director Andrzej Wajda, the story of the early days of Poland's Solidarity movement is told through the struggles of Maciek (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), the leader of a group of shipyard workers. An alcoholic reporter (Marian Opania) has been sent to dig up dirt on the man, but as he talks to Maciek, his family and co-workers, the reporter begins to respect their courage and convictions.

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