KANAL begins on the 56th day of the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis. A ragtag group of untrained Resistance fighters hold the frontline. They try to live a relatively normal life, and even play the piano. They achieve... more » many small victories, but must retreat into the sewers. But the darkness stretches on forever... A work of shocking extremes, KANAL depicts the dignity of ordinary people in the face of unspeakable horror. In dark, underground pits, gorgeous women struggle in rivers of sludge. The darkness itself weighs down heavily - but is punctuated by flickering candles and torches that create unforgettable compositions, and by brutal bursts of light from the world above. KANAL was the second feature film directed by Academy Award- and Cannes Film Festival-winner Andrzej Wajda. It is the second part of Wajda's acclaimed "war trilogy," which also includes A GENERATION and ASHES AND DIAMONDS.« less
Glenn R. Urbanas | Richmond Hill, New York USA | 02/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An indescribably wrenching war tragedy depicting the destruction of a group of freedom fighters in the ruins of Warsaw in the last year of WW II.A year after the Warsaw ghetto is crushed, the Polish resistance, learning that Soviet armies are approaching the city and that the allies have landed in Normandy, order the long-awaited uprising against the Nazis. The battle goes on for 63 days while Stalin halts his army in the suburbs to allow the SS to systematically eliminate the last Polish patriots.The film depicts the last few days of the uprising. Wajda introduces the varied men and women who make up one resistance group - their ambitions, their loves, their individuality, their vitality, in a context of extreme stress. After a heroic defense of their district, the survivors are ordered into the sewers - the 'Kanal' - to escape the pocket in which they've become trapped. Their captain knows they are doomed yet hopes to save at least the company records for posterity. Before descending, he stoically shares a last cigarette with another group leader. 'You know this fight is pointless, don't you?' 'Yeah... it's the Polish way.' The second half of the film depicts their final trial of courage in the sewers - where a subterranean Passion and an anonymous Golgotha awaits them. As the fighters, one by one, slip into a manhole behind a street barricade, they leave behind the rear guard - a twelve year old boy wearing boots way too big for him who cooly checks his rifle in preparation for his solitary defense of this last barrier. Beyond the pile of bricks and furniture a Tiger tank lurches inexorably forward like a threshing machine.This film manages to scorch a lasting hole in one's soul."
One of the most powerful movies I've seen in 30 years.
Glenn R. Urbanas | 03/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this movie 30 years ago--and feared looking at the video because I though it might not be as great as I remembered it. It's even better. Powerful tales of how peoplel change, for better or worse, under great adversity. Though many of the people come to bleak ends, the movie is not depressing or blackhearted. It's greatest moral lesson, for me, is that courage must be coupled with wide-eyed realism and stamina when the odds are against you. The image that has stayed with me for 30 years: the woman helping the wounded, feverish man through the sewer who reminds him that he's walking through shit and to keep on going when he begins to hallucinate about how beautiful things are."
R. Albin | Ann Arbor, Michigan United States | 08/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kanal focuses on a small group of Polish resistance fighters during the Warsaw uprising of 1944. Intended to last for a few days and to enable the Soviet Army to enter Warsaw, the uprising lasted for weeks while the Red Army did little to assist the Poles and was eventually crushed by the Germans. This film is based on an actual episode of the uprising, the escape from encirclement of a significant number of resistance fighters by fleeing through the sewers of Warsaw. Wajda follows a company of fighters into the sewers and explores their disparate fates. In Wajda's hands, this episode becomes a metaphor for the whole Polish experience in WWII; brutal, valiant, deadly, profoundly humiliating but characterized by an unceasing pursuit of hope. With fine cinematography and excellent acting, this is a gripping film."
"Kanal is a grim , sad and powerful drama of Polish patriots who use the servers of Warsaw in an attempt to escape from the Nazis during the uprising of 1944 . In the middle of this unbeatable tragedy you can watch different voices and attitudes . The somber pianist playing Chopin , and other characters literally struggled for this opressive atmosphere . Wajda made his masterpiece , unrelieved in intensity and fierce . A thousand carats gem . Disturbing and haunting work of the polish cinema ."
Crawling through the sewers seeking freedom
Richard J. Brzostek | New England, USA | 11/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although the film is depressing, it is worth watching. One gains an idea of the conditions of Poland during the war and how the Poles tried to fight back against overwhelming odds. The film itself is very dark, with much of it taking place in the sewers.In this film, a band of Polish soldiers is ordered to retreat through the sewers. Giving up their holding is disappointing to the men, but they have little choice because they lack the weapons and reinforcements to hold their position any longer. The sewers are a maze in which the soldiers try to find their way to freedom."Kanal" (1957) is directed by Andrzej Wajda. This Polish film is in black-and-white, 96 minutes long, and has optional English subtitles."