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Maciek and Andrzej, two home army fighters, were paired and ordered to kill an incoming communist party cadre. At the hotel where their target's welcoming party is being held. Maciek meets the barmaid Krystyna and the two have a brief, passionate affair, before he is pulled away from this fleeting happiness into his deadly mission.
The third and last chapter of Andrzej Wajda's thematic (wartime) trilogy (coming after A Generation and Kanal), Ashes and Diamonds, a study on the political and social chaos felt at the end of the WWII, follows the story of Maciek (the protagonist) and Andrzej, who are sent to kill a Polish Communist leader in the last day of the Second World War (in fact, the film is set within one single day, which is the famous day of Germany's surrender). A film that can be seen as a piece of anti-Soviet propaganda, Ashes and Diamonds is, simply put, a masterwork.
It's impossible to not to admire a film that's so fun and yet, feels so relevant, this is what happens…
War torn Poland is the setting for this tale about the power of love. Romantic love and love of country.
Maciek is one cool dude. He wears tinted glasses, a military coat, and a devil-may-care hair style. He is a Polish Peter Fonda. We are introduced to Maciek as he is attempting to assassinate a political figure. He is part of an underground revolution movement. I say attempting because the people he brutally kills end up being the wrong people. They were just passing through the wrong place at the wrong time.
Maciek soon discovers his mistake and volunteers to right his wrong by killing the correct man latter that night. That is, until he meets Krystyna. She is a…
End of an era
Looking into the unknown.
Shifting alliances push for power
While the young search for meaning.
Seen as part of a selection of Polish films by Martin Scorsese, and at the risk of triteness I can see a lot of this movie's influence on his work - the mix of flashy, old Hollywood expressionism with cold, hard reality with a liberal dose of religious imagery is pretty close to his signature style.
It also reminded me of von Sternberg, particularly in a gorgeous sequence made up exclusively of a series of close-ups of two lovers' faces (sorry for using the word "lovers" but as they say, sometimes "lovers" is all we have). But the visuals in this are flat-out gorgeous throughout, so much so that I kept waiting for them to detach from the narrative and fly off of this Earth completely.
“So often, are you as a blazing torch with flames
of burning rags falling about you flaming,
you know not if flames bring freedom or death.
Consuming all that you must cherish
if ashes only will be left, and want Chaos and tempest
Or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike diamond
The Morning Star of everlasting triumph.”
Cyprian Norwid's poem contains the life of this film all in a few short verses. It summarizes everything that Wajda wanted to translate to his audience. This is the third and final film in his famous war trilogy and while I personally do not think its the best of the three it is still a bold statement to end with.…
Andrzej Wajda frames Polish youth in the fog of post-war disillusion as they rub up against the old guard in the shifting sands of the newly liberated Communist Poland. With an assassination plot in full force from the opening frames, we are drawn into the world of a young partly cool, partly goofy hit-man named Maciek as he battles a moral quandary about his nominated profession and the job at hand. Many scenes and shots are rich and iconic, with some being downright jaw-dropping (The fireworks scene comes to mind), but ultimately it didn't do quite enough for me on one viewing to fly its flag as high as gunrunners like Martin Scorsese who lists it as one of the…
This was a great polish film with beautiful cinematography and a very charismatic protagonist.
Largely considered the greatest film to come out of Poland, the film tackles a couple guns for hire on the day World War II ended as they are tasked with assassinating a communist official.
I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on Polish politics and history, but it's clear the film is about the insufferable death and destruction inflicted upon the country over the period and the questions around the identity of the country following it. The character at the centre of the film is Maciek, portrayed by James Dean-esque Zbigniew Cybulsk, who's clearly very apathetic towards violence, but clearly affected by the role he had to take during the war, with whatever future perhaps obtainable dwindling despite…
El primer día de la nueva Polonia empieza con una polonesa desafinada.
Completely deserving of its esteemed position as one of the best and saddest, both of Polish cinema and of war films in general. Glad I watched it, and can't wait for Criterion to update the boxed set to Blu-ray...
I only went off the pretty rad poster on this site when going into this and I was expecting something along the lines of a bad ass gangster b-movie. Boy, was I completely off the mark. What I actually got was a rather sad look at the immediate post-war life.
A film that looks at the question: what happens after war? That is, what happens to those who are now completely influenced by it. Does one still have a duty or can dreams and aspirations finally come back to be followed?
The lead in this was great and gave a cool demeanor but was juxtaposed fantastically with his longing for peace despite the war actually being over with. Really convincing…
Well-crafted, slick, and packs an emotional punch. All of these things put together and we get one of the greatest films to emerge from Polish cinema. It can't necessarily be labeled perfect but it is well composed and shot in a way that gives it lots of atmosphere. It has a bit of romance but also has a vision of conveying to the audience what it means to be Polish. Whether he catches that sentiment well is up for debate but it is that kind of personal touch that really makes "Ashes and Diamonds" stand out. It speaks to a generation in a way that is fascinating, insightful, and eye-opening to not only them but also the outside world. With…
A Polish soldier finds love in a maid in the middle of a dangerous assassination plot he and his comrade botched on the first attempt during the end of the war. Maciek, played stupendously by an über-cool Zbigniew Cybulski, is one of the coolest movie characters I've spent time with in years. His tinted glasses, swooped, messy hair, and his jacket would look at home in "Miami Vice" or in a James Dean film - Cybulski and director Andrzej Wajda obviously taking inspiration from the late star. But Maciek's characterization is deeper than anything Dean did. We watch his shock and coming-to-terms with mowing down the wrong people, and we watch his find consolation in a woman. And it's not…
Beautiful film, really -- much better than "Closely Watched Trains." It's a beautiful evocation of Poland, 1945, the tensions of occupation, patriotism, Resistance, etc. So it's the story of a few guys who are part of the Home Army, resisting the Soviets, right after they've won the war. One of them, who is based on Brando's character in The Wild One, and is a bit of a dashing Resistance fighter, falls in love with a barmaid and can't go through with his mission. He eventually does, but then backs out at the last moment and accidentally gets himself killed, dying in a trash heap. Quite a sad portrayal of what ends up happening to the ideals of Polish patriotism.
Also good on the theme of love/private life vs. politics/public life. The main character is torn between them but in the end opts for the former.
The beauty and power of this film take my breath away.
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…