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aka - Pokolenie
Poland 1955
Directed by
Andrzej Wajda
87 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Generation, A

Wajda's first feature was originally conceived to mark the 10th anniversary of the rule of the Polish Communist party and has a strong propagandistic tendency. Wajda and his friends who worked on the film were fresh out of film school and their lack of experience has its pros and cons. Showing the influence of Italian Neo-Realism, particularly on Jerzy Lipman’s cinematography, it is for a first effort an impressive film with plenty of vigour although it tends to suffer from a lack of strong characterisation, probably due to the almost entirely amateur cast, and technically it is rough in places, especially in the action sequences and some of the interiors which are poorly lit. Fortunately this same vigour keeps it from being purely propagandistic and indeed it did not get Government approval immediately.

It tells the story of a youth (Tadeusz Lomnicki), who decides to fight the Nazis after he falls for a pretty Communist freedom fighter, a story which stands for the experiences of that generation. This is a highly sentimentalized view as apparently non-Jewish Poles did not come to the assistance of the Jews during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as is depicted whilst the ruthlessness of the Stalinist Communist Party is also now well known.  

Whatever errors were made historically and ideologically, with its robust direction A Generation came to be the flagship of the Polish film renaissance and overnight gave Wadja an international reputation.  According to Roman Polanski who appears in a minor role, the film was considerable tampered with by the Soviet-ruled authorities of the time and the final release was but a "mere shadow" of Wajda's original cut.

FYI: The film forms a trilogy of works with Kanal (1957) and Ashes And Diamonds (1958).

DVD Extras: Umbrella’s Andrzej Wajda’s War Trilogy release includes both Kanal and Ashes And Diamonds as well as a modern day interview with Wajda (44m).




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