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Ashes and Diamonds (Popiol i Diament)
Ashes and Diamonds
Popiol i Diament
Actors: Zbigniew Cybulski, Waclaw Zastrzezynski, Adam Pawlikowski, Bogumil Kobiela, Ewa Krzyzewska
Director: Andrzej Wajda
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
NR     2003     1hr 43min


     
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Movie Details

Actors: Zbigniew Cybulski, Waclaw Zastrzezynski, Adam Pawlikowski, Bogumil Kobiela, Ewa Krzyzewska
Director: Andrzej Wajda
Creators: Jerzy Wójcik, Andrzej Wajda, Halina Nawrocka, Jerzy Andrzejewski
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Studio: Polart
Format: DVD - Black and White - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/18/2003
Original Release Date: 05/29/1961
Theatrical Release Date: 05/29/1961
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 43min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Polish
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Closing Chapter
Tyson D. Rahmeier | 03/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"With Ashes and Diamonds, Andrzej Wajda completed his trilogy concerning the Polish experience during World War II. It is the last day of the war, and a young Republican resistance fighter, Maciek, has been assigned to assassinate a high ranking member of the Communist resistance. Maciek's experiences leading up to the killing--his contact with the kindly Communist leader, his romance with a young barmaid--seriously undermine his initial allegiance to the dying Republican cause. Director (and former resistance member) Wajda brilliantly portrays the fratricidal impulses guiding Poland immediately after the war--impulses which ultimately prostrated Poland under a Communist regime for decades. The directionlessness and confusion of postwar Poland is evident in Wajda's treatment and, although it is never directly seen, the Soviet Union's Red Army is unmistakably present. In its entirety, the trilogy of A Generation, Kanal, and Ashes and Diamonds devastatingly documents the death of Old Central Europe. However, it is a testament to Wajda's talent that Ashes and Diamonds can easily stand on its own."
A diamond in the rough
Steven Sprague | Newport Beach, CA | 02/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"*Spoilers ahead!*
Ashes and Diamonds begins on the day when World War II ended for Poland. A day which brought with it celebration but also uncertainty. The war has ended and things are still viscous but like molten rock, this state is temporary. Enter the charismatic carefree Maciek and the serious Andrzej, two Polish exiles who joined the resistance in 1941 when they were fighting the Germans for a free Poland. With the war over, and the Russians invading their country, this was not the victory they imagined. And so they lay beside a country church basking in the sunlit clarity of a warm beautiful day, waiting for the arrival of a local communist party chairman, so they can fill him full of lead and then head for their next assignment. But things are not clear at all and in Maciek's obvious enthusiasm for his job, he executes two innocent men, though he will not learn of his error until later in the 24 hours period during which this film takes place. By that time the clear sky will turn dark with rain and Maciek's resolve to "finish" the job will be severely weakened by the beautiful barmaid, Krystyna, who awakens within him a dormant faith in humanity and the possibility of love and happiness. Ashes and Diamonds is a film that constantly paces back and forth between differing visions of a Post WWII Poland - not surprising since director Wajda had to walk a fine line between his fellow Poles and the Soviet censors. Most of the film takes place in darkness and the characters, like the film itself pace back and forth struggling with an existential anguish that is almost crushing. The enormous weight of responsibility when life becomes more than simply surviving. The decision to act or not to act - both have far reaching consequences. The films emotional core takes place during a masterfully shot scene in a hotel room with both Maciek and Krystnya emotionally and physically naked. Cinematographer Jerzy Wojcik, who graces this film with many unforgettable images, gives us still another and with muted lense dissolves one lovers face into another interchangeably to suggest a coming together of souls. Once carefully measured exteriors are being melted by buried emotion like the way lava changes the face of a mountain. "Don't touch me" remarks Krystnya during a particularly tender moment, but these words are said not as a threat but as a last gasp defensive measure. "I don't want any good-byes or memories to leave behind." Soon the two lovers will sneak out into the night, "God, life can be so beautiful sometimes." Says Maciek with enthusiasm just prior to a downpour that will have them scurring into the shelter of the burned out ash filed ruins of a church, with Jesus on a crucifix hanging upside down above the ruble. It is here that Krystnya reads an inscription from the Polish Poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid which will spur the dormant revolutionary within Maciek into action.

From you, as from burning chips of resin
Fiery fragments circle far and near:
Ablaze, you don't know if you are to be free.
Or if all that is yours will disappear.
Will only ashes remain and confusion
Whirling into the void? - Or will there shine
Amidst the ash a starlight diamond,
the dawning of eternal victory!"
Means are more important than the ends
anuragsinghvi@hotmail.com | Mumbai, India | 12/30/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Any great art hinges upon how it is able to address the conflicts that a person goes through in one's lives. Ashes and Diamonds, tries to bring out the conflict of an individual trapped between whether the ends are more important than the means. He is a part of a revolutionary group assigned to assassinate a political figure, and before the assassination takes place, he has an affair with a bar girl. The affair and the events thereof makes him realise the futility of the violence and whether the revolution are able to achieve the ends that they are working towards. A brilliant film, the best by Wajda and it will continue to have a timelessness associated with it."
Isolation, war, tragedy: just a few elements of a great film
michelle | Chicago | 11/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"At the peak of the Polish school of film, Andzej Wajda made "Ashes and Diamonds," a film that deals largely with the national experience in Poland. Thus, it helps to know a bit of Polish history before viewing this film. The story: Manciek is a young solider in the right-wing Nationalist Army who is ordered at the conclusion of the war to assassinate the newly-arrived Communist District Secretary. In the meantime, he falls in love. The film then becomes a discussion of conscience v. loyalty, with Manciek living in both the established and criminal world and often crossing the line between a life with his new girlfriend and his continued life as a revolutionary. The title itself (taken from Norwid's romantic poem) obviously plays into this conflict. Wajda's films do not avoid bitterness and pessimism, and this film in particular treats art as a response to the problems of society, revealing the factors that emphasize its complexes as well as its symptoms. At the end of the film, the immediate devastation has ended; but, the ongoing devastation has only begun. In fact, Wajda seems to say, it is a devastation with no end in sight because it is imposed by a memory that makes the line between life and death a thin one; Manciek wears dark glasses because his eyes could never adjust to the light after his time spent in the sewers during the Polish resistance. "Will there remain among the ashes," the Polish poet Norwid asked, "a star-like diamond, the dawn of eternal victory?" Wajda presents this question to the viewer throughout his film-- a question which he leaves open for you to answer."