All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1154. An easy way of seeing how…
Ashes and Diamonds
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.
End of an era
Looking into the unknown.
Shifting alliances push for power
While the young search for meaning.
“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's Ashes and Diamonds is a movie that could be a great, allegorical post-war tale akin to Rossellini's Germany Year Zero, but falls short intentionally to tell something more personal - in a way I applaud that. Nonetheless, while this film is full of life and great imagery, it meanders to the point where at times it becomes unbearable.
Set mainly on one night in a hotel in Poland just after WW2 has finished, two revolutionaries plot the death of a leading communist who is staying there.
Zbigniew Cybulski is iconic as Maciek the would be assassin, but when he meets barmaid Krystyna he starts to have second thoughts, should he be stay loyal to his beliefs or try and make a new life for himself.
One of the most beautiful black and white films I have ever seen, set in shadow and smoke with light slipping in from cracks in windows giving the film a hazy atmosphere.
This is my first Wajda and I was pleasantly surprised at how stylish and loose the film is. Based on his films' usual content: the Polish resistance, wartime hardship, the bleakness of communist rule, etc., I had imagined that his directing style would be minimal and gritty. Instead, I found many iconic shot with lots of stylistic flourishes (the bombed-out church, the sunlight beaming through torn curtains and dilapidated doors, etc.) and an unusual lead actor in Cybulski. This casting was perhaps the biggest risk in the film and seemingly the biggest payoff as well.
I learned that Cybulski's swaggering, jittery performance (which earned him the title of the Polish James Dean) struck a chord with that generation of post-war…
Movie #14 of Berkens 30 days, 30 countries challenge
Ashes and Diamonds- Poland
I expected this to be a pretty downbeat affair based on the premise and summary. This film is suprisingly engaging and fast pace. Sure the setting is depressing, but it is also hopeful and at there are even humorous moments. That paired with the beautiful cinematography and the focus on a topic that I personally had not much knowledge about made this a very enjoyable watch.
Despite a magnetic lead performance, I just couldn't get into it. There are some very striking visual compositions, but they seem unrelated to the story itself.
I have very little to say about this that Paul Coates' Criterion Essay (www.criterion.com/current/posts/363-ashes-and-diamonds) doesn't, but I would like to talk about Zbigniew Cybulski's performance for a moment:
My thought for much of the film was about how much he reminded me of James Dean. James Dean, particularly in Rebel Without A Cause gave a performance that was tough enough and cool enough to get by (thank the red jacket, good hair, and great looks for much of this), but the real gem is in what's underneath: The understanding that one must *act* tough more than they should ever need to *be* tough, and that if we all just shed the facade, we could live in a world where we…
Next Projection Review
In constructing elaborate sets of ceilings and deep space, Wajda’s masterpiece, Ashes and Diamonds (1958) blends the acclaimed techniques of Orson Welles and Jean Renoir. Through deep focus cinematography, long takes, black and white photography, and key lighting, Wajda essentially fuses the formal designs of Citizen Kane (1941) and The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936). Taking note but not direction from these two inspirational filmmakers, Wajda constructs a truly new and generative image, forging a personal imprint—and auteur status—of his own. As a man of political conscience, he grapples with social and ethical dilemmas while at once dancing with artistry and narrative structure. While religion—Catholicism to be specific—plays a key role in the film’s backdrop, Ashes…
Beyond Zbigniew Cybulski's charisma and the way the tragedy is told with such a steady hand, ‘Ashes and Diamonds’ has some of my favourite black and white cinematography I've ever seen. Personal, haunting images throughout.
Covering up the psychological effects of violence with sheer nihilistic badassery made me think of Godard-by-way-of-Tarantino (cf. Breathless ), but this movie predates both and probes far deeper into conscience and loss, with archetypal Eastern European angst. The explosive opening scene sets up a story of unapologetic, testosterone-fueled political violence. But gradually the thread unravels, and the lonely protagonist faces guilt, loss and a crisis of belief. The power of the denouement is in its masterful contrast of unbridled joy - perhaps representing the Communist establishment - with total desolation.
Another case where I'm positive that me being less of a dumbass, and knowing more about things like the Polish uprising and it's relationship with the red army would make me appreiate what this film was doing so much more. But as a Linklateresque hangout film with a genre-y premise, this works pretty swell. Zbigniew Cybulski's role as the sexy young soldier on an assassination mission, one that he growing more and more uncertain he can follow through on, as the end of end of the war is being celebrated around him, really clicks, drawing upon James Dean's subtle cool, and internal alienation. And Wajada (whose later film Danton, is the only previous film of his I've seen, and I found it unbearably boring) proves himself very capable of creating a film that balances the atmosphere of a tense thriller, and a slow postwar melancholy that's often working in the same sequences to very different ends.
The third part in Andrezj Wajda's trilogy of films dealing with World War II from a Polish perspective, but it doesn't require having watched the previous two films. Or so I'm led to believe. Different characters, different situations - it's only the theme that binds this all together. While I'd have liked to have gotten in on the ground floor (I'm sure there's a consistent tone and/or style that runs through all the works) in my experience this really does stand alone. A passing knowledge of Poland's World War II involvement, during and after, helps but I'm not really sure it's necessary.
The star of the show and the heart of the picture is that rock n' roll lothario to…
The end of the war is not the end of the fight.
Martin Scorsese is a major proponent of the films by Powell and Pressburger, especially The Red Shoes (1948), which I loved and will probably reference in just about any positive review from now on. Scorsese, a notable cinephile, is one of the few vocal champions of The Red Shoes (who has come on my radar). Since I loved the film and Scorsese isn't such a slouch in the filmmaking department himself, I wanted to track down his Top Ten films and make sure I'd seen them all. Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds (1958) was on that list and on that of Francis Ford Coppola (among others). It stood…
The bullet holes catching on fire. The chapel door swinging open. The holes in the blinds. The newspaper in the window. The troops in the street. The dying shots. The church. The horse. The fire extinguisher. The fireworks. The light at Krystyna's back. The tears on Krystyna's cheeks. The sheets blowing in the breeze. The revelers, dancing. The train, departing.
"If we could only celebrate a Warsaw not in ruins."
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
- Citizen Kane
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- The Rules of the Game
- Tokyo Story
Another year, another update. 2012 List can be found here.
The following is a really extensive and great list of…
- Citizen Kane
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Tokyo Story
- The Rules of the Game