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Poland 1958
Directed by
Andrzej Wajda
104 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Ashes And Diamonds

Ashes And Diamonds, set in Warsaw at the end of WWII, forms, along with A Generation (1955) and Kanal (1957) a loose trilogy of films about the Polish resistance. Clearly a knowledge of modern Polish history would help in appreciating this as its references to Poland’s political situation at the end of the war, invaded first by the Germans and then the Russians are taken as understood.

The core story involves the hit by a pair of Polish Resistance fighters, Maciek (Zbigniew Cybulski) and his superior Andrzej (Adam Pawlikowski) on the newly-appointed Communist Party district secretary Szczuka (Waclaw Zastrzezynski), They bungle the job and while they are waiting for another chance Maciek falls for a barmaid (Eva Krzyzewski) and is awakened to a new set of values other than those of a war-time mentality. It is the most accomplished of the three films both dramatically and technically and is marked by its bravura direction, characteristically for Polish film, often leaning towards strong symbolic imagery, The film is also distinguished by the stylish cinematography of Jerzy Wojcik, replacing Jerzy Lipman who had worked on the other two films).

FYI:  The strikingly good-looking Ukraine-born Cybulski was at the time touted as Poland's answer to James Dean. He died in a 1967 train accident when he slipped running to catch a train and was crushed.

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

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment

 

 

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