We're sorry, our database doesn't have DVD description information for this item. Click here to check Amazon's database -- you can return to this page by closing the new browser tab/window if you want to obtain the DVD from SwapaDVD.
Click here to submit a DVD description for approval.
"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
email@example.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."
Sunglasses After Dark
Adrian Stranik | London | 10/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The third in Director Andrej Wadja's war trilogy, Ashes and Diamonds is set in Poland on the last day of WW2. The German High Command have issued their unconditional surrender and the Communists quickly fill the vacuum left by Hitler's goose-steppers and set up shop. Warsaw is lousy with rats and not all of them are of the rodent variety as power hungry bureaucrats jostle for position in the new order.
Having spent the last half a decade under the Nazi junta; the prospect of a future under Stalin's jackboot is met with keen opposition. Maciek, a resistance fighter, is ordered to kill a local Socialist party official, which he is more than happy to do, but soon discovers he has killed two innocent civilians instead.
Maciek books a room at a rundown hotel where his quarry is staying. While he waits for the right moment to make amends he meets and falls in love with the barmaid Krystyna. His connection to the girl leads him to rethink his part in the endless cycle of violence.
The central role of Maciek was played by the brilliant Zybigniew Cybulski who came to be known as the `Polish James Dean.' Dean's death in a highway smash in 1955 meant he would never fulfil his promise and so would forever be frozen in movie goer's minds as a deeply troubled boy. Cybulski was 30 when he played the role that made him and gives us a glimpse of what his western counterpart could have achieved. Cybulski's Maciek is a worldly wise, vodka fuelled skirt chaser, (not a million miles away from his real life persona allegedly) and far from being made twisted and bitter by his war experiences, Cybulski plays the character as a man who laughs at the cruel joke of life that his been played on all of us and is determined to "have fun and not be swindled" even in the face of imminent annihilation.
It was a conscious decision on Wadja and Cybulski's part that despite their story taking place in 1945, ASHES AND DIAMONDS' central character was going to be `all out' 50's cool. Parts Brando, Dean and Clift - Maciek, in his army fatigues and `sun-glasses after dark' became a symbol for Polish teenagers who would emulate his style for years to come; and his Anna Karenna-esque death beneath the wheels of a late night train in 1967 only exacerbated his legendary status. Even now we see shades of him in any number of Hong Kong `glock operas' and John Cusack's `assassin in Raybans' from Grosse Point Blank is a clearly a direct ancestor.
Often charged with being overloaded with symbolism as scenes are obscured by upside down crucifixes; characters rendered almost invisible in morning light whilst unfurling flags or inexplicably joined by white horses as they ponder the possibilities of a brighter future, ASHES AND DIAMONDS makes no secret of its Expressionist credentials. The youthful hero dying on a mountainous rubbish dump to the accompaniment of screeching crows is an image lifted almost directly from Van Gogh's apocalyptic `Crows over Wheatfield's'.
Two years after Cybulski met his destiny on the snowy platform of Wroclaw station Wadja made EVERYTHING FOR SALE about an actor missing from the set of a film. The missing actor was clearly meant to be Cybulski who even in death dominated every scene. It still stands as probably the best film an actor never made. "