Ashes and Diamonds

(Popiół i Diament, 1958)
   Andrzej Wajda's classic film based on Jerzy Andrzejewski's novel, generally regarded as the climax of the Polish School. When this film was made, it was attacked by the Communist establishment and by Aleksander Ford, who contested its alleged "counterrevolutionary nature." The film's action takes place on 8 May 1945 in a small town where the official preparations to celebrate the end of the war are being made by the Communist authorities. The story concerns a Home Army (AK) fighter, Maciek Chełmicki (Zbigniew Cybulski), who carries out his superiors' orders and assassinates the new district secretary of the Communist Party, Szczuka (Wacław Zastrzeżyński). According to his trademark formula (lyric protagonists in dramatic situations), Wajda portrays the anti-Communist Maciek as a tragic romantic hero torn between duty to the national cause and the yearning for a normal life, a prisoner of a fate that he is powerless to escape. The young woman he meets and falls in love with, Krystyna (Ewa Krzyżewska), offers him a chance to lead a normal life—an illusory prospect since the postwar Polish reality did not welcome people with Maciek's past. Apart from its romantic celebration of doomed heroes, Ashes and Diamonds is recognized for its flamboyant style (cinematography by Jerzy Wójcik), references to Polish national symbolism, and the use of religious imagery. With Kanal (Kanał, 1957) and A Generation (Pokolenie, 1954), it forms Wajda's "war trilogy."
   See also Adaptations.
   Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema by Marek Haltof

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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