HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Incredibles 2
Big House, The
Night Eats the World, The
War Bus
Back to Berlin
Leave No Trace
They Shall Not Grow Old
Dollman
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Man Who Invented Christmas, The
Tom's Midnight Garden
Lady, Stay Dead
Thieves, The
My Dear Secretary
I Think We're Alone Now
Amazing Colossal Man, The
Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael
Suzanne
Nae Pasaran!
Kiss of the Dragon
Other Side of the Wind, The
Secret Santa
Wolcott
10.000 Km
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
Hitler's Hollywood
Ghost Goes Gear, The
First Purge, The
House of Wax
Mandy
   
 
Newest Articles
The Conquest of Everett: The Kenny Everett Video Show on DVD
Bout for the Count: Hammer's Dracula in the 1970s
Nopes from a Small Island: Mistreatment of American Stars in British Films
You Know, For Kids: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box
If He Were a Carpenter and It Was the 80s: The Fog, Prince of Darkness and They Live
Tee-Hee, It's 80s Sci-Fi Horror: Night of the Comet, The Stuff and Night of the Creeps
Chance of a Ghost: The Uninvited and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
3 Simian Slashers: Phenomena, Link and Monkey Shines
When is a Jackie Chan Movie Not a Jackie Chan Movie? Armour of God and City Hunter
Anytime Anywhere: The Complete Goodies at the BBC Episode Guide Part 2
Anytime Anywhere: The Complete Goodies at the BBC Episode Guide Part 1
I-Spy Scotland: The Thirty Nine Steps and Eye of the Needle
Manor On Movies--Black Shampoo--three three three films in one
Manor On Movies--Invasion USA
Time Trap: Last Year in Marienbad and La Jetée
   
 
  Ashes and Diamonds Up All NightBuy this film here.
Year: 1958
Director: Andrzej Wajda
Stars: Zbigniew Cybulski, Ewa Krzyzewska, Waclaw Zastrzezynski, Adam Pawlikowski, Bogumil Kobiela, Jan Ciecierski, Stanislaw Milski, Artur Mlodnicki, Halina Kwiatkowska, Ignacy Machowski, Zbigniew Skowronski, Barbara Krafftówna, Aleksander Sewruk
Genre: Drama, War, Romance
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Maciek Chelmicki (Zbigniew Cybulski) is a freedom fighter in the Poland of 1945, just as the Nazis have been banished from the land, but the future seems less certain than the partisans would like as the Communists are exercising a strong influence, and they would prefer to be running the show themselves. To that end, they are staging assassinations of party leaders, as today when Maciek and two others lie in wait for a jeep to drive past so they may gun down the Communist representative, but in the act of doing so and murdering the men in the vehicle, they quickly realise they have killed the wrong men and must make good their escape. Maciek decides to catch up with the representative at a hotel where the officials and their wives are celebrating...

Ashes and Diamonds, or Popiól i diament if you were Polish, was the third in a loose trilogy of films by director Andrzej Wajda - A Generation, Kanal and this one - that broke a new star onto the international scene. Initially it was not going to be distributed across the world thanks to nervy authorities in its homeland, but a print was smuggled out, probably because its high quality was noted and therefore something to be proud of, even if it did not toe the party line. From then on, Cybulski was claimed as the Polish James Dean, a concept entirely deliberate since both he and Wajda had loved the Dean movie Rebel Without a Cause and wished to recreate the emotions of that work in their own way.

Certainly you could see parallels, but you could also note differences: in Dean, you had a hero who was lashing out because his sensitivity had pitted him against the society that failed to understand him or even try, while with Maciek (sporting shades in almost every scene) a hero who thought he knew what he was fighting for was exposed as confused and standing on shifting ground when the cause was revealed to be far less cut and dried than he had been led to believe. Wajda, adapting Jerzy Andrzejewski's bestselling (in Poland) book with the help of the author, made sure that we were well aware of the nature of every important player in this drama, so that the target of Maciek (Waclaw Zastrzezynski) was as three-dimensional as his potential assassin.

But this was not what gave the rebel his crisis of faith, it was the love of a good woman who made him wake up to the fact that killing is no way to spend your days, no matter the justification for making you enemies your victims, in a violent manner. While he waits for the best time to attack the official, a beautiful barmaid, Krystyna (Ewa Krzyzewska), catches Maciek's attention and he starts to turn on the charm around her, with the result that this politicised student realises he should be making the world better through more positive means. That Cybulski was charm personified anyway gave his scenes with Krzyzewska a definite charge, and the cinematography by Jerzy Wójcik offered a moody, atmospheric tone that emphasised the doomed nature of the couple's prospects if Maciek goes through with his plans.

But are they his plans, or is he finally beginning to think for himself? The fact that this ends in one of the most famous scenes in Polish cinema, those billowing sheets sticking in the minds of all who watched it, indicates he was tragic because he was so aware of how he should be proceeding, yet was unable to have the courage to change the course he was set upon, though it was not entirely his own fault as he finds his pleas for someone to listen to him falling on deaf ears. Here was where you saw the problem that Wajda and his fellow, young intellectuals were facing: they thought they were about to enjoy new freedoms away from the crushing influence of the Soviet authority, but the fact that he was still making films criticising the iron fist of bureaucracy decades later should give you some idea of how well that turned out. This lent Ashes and Diamonds even more resonance with the weight of history behind it, though it was worth pointing out that it did tend to ramble in its middle section, suggesting the ideas were stronger than the execution. Nevertheless, an important film, and the short-lived Cybulski was immortalised as the embodiment of the great Polish rebel. Music by Filip Nowak.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 732 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Steven Seagal
Pam Grier
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
George White
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
Rashed Ali
Alexander Taylor
   

 

Last Updated: