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Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

Popiól i diament (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 29 May 1961 (USA)
During the German occupation noble, bourgeois and worker's partisan groups lived in peace with another. On the first day of freedom they start to fight each other. In these fights is weaved a most tender love story.

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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ewa Krzyzewska ...
Waclaw Zastrzezynski ...
Szczuka
Adam Pawlikowski ...
Andrzej
...
Drewnowski
Jan Ciecierski ...
Portier
Stanislaw Milski ...
Pieniazek
Artur Mlodnicki ...
Kotowicz
Halina Kwiatkowska ...
Staniewiczowa
Ignacy Machowski ...
Waga
Zbigniew Skowronski ...
Slomka
...
Stefka (as Barbara Kraftówna)
Aleksander Sewruk ...
Swiecki
Zofia Czerwinska ...
Barmaid Lili
Wiktor Grotowicz ...
Franek Pawlicki (as W. Grotowicz)
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Storyline

Maciek, a young Resistance fighter, is ordered to kill Szczuka, a Communist district leader, on the last day of World War II. Though killing has been easy for him in the past, Szczuka was a fellow soldier, and Maciek must decide whether to follow his orders. Written by Kevin Dorner <mrkevvy@pathcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 May 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ashes and Diamonds  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original: 108')

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because of the film's nihilistic tone, the Polish authorities were not keen on it being exhibited outside of the country. Until a low-level official had a print shipped out to the Venice Film Festival where it played to great acclaim. See more »

Goofs

Glasses of vodka are set alight which burn for an unnaturally long length of time and with a bigger flame than expected, suggesting a purer fuel was used in the film, such as petrol. Moreover, when the final flame dies (c.41 minutes) no liquid remains in the glass. Only the alcohol content is flammable in any glass of spirit and a residue of water would be left behind with even the very strongest of Polish vodkas. See more »

Quotes

Krystyna: So often, are you as a blazing torch with flames/ of burning rags falling about you flaming, /you know not if flames bring freedom or death. /Consuming all that you must cherish /if ashes only will be left, and want Chaos and tempest...
Maciek Chelmicki: ...Or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike diamond... /The Morning Star of everlasting triumph.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Pierscionek z orlem w koronie (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53
[Performed by orchestra for celebratory war's end banquet. Name of performers not listed.]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A masterpiece that should never be forgotten

First, I've read a book by Jerzy Andrzejewski and then I've seen the movie. After that, I never went back to the book. It was not because it was bad, quite the contrary - it was very good. But the movie by Andrzej Wajda is definitely a masterpiece of Polish movie-making. The main plot of the movie revolves around Maciek Chelmicki, a young idealist who fought against the Germans and then turned to fight against the Communists. He is sent to kill Szczuka, one of The Party's middle rank administrators, by the Polish underground.That's the plot. The movie itself is about a lot of important things, common to all people (but I believe the Polish people will find a few of them more emotionally binding):

1. Nothing is black or white, everything is just a shade of gray

2. Is death, no matter how you try to justify it, senseless?

3. Is it better to live, while on your knees or die standing straight? Or maybe it's better to try to live standing straight?

4. That sometimes it's not war that is hell, it's living through war and trying to live a normal life that is a lot harder (thank God I do not know if it is so)

Wajda's movie doesn't give direct answers to any of these questions - each person may watch the movie from a different point of view and get to a totally different conclusion. But even if you're not into psychological movies about war, or noir-movies (and Popiol i Diament is definitely a sort of a noir-movie) it's worth watching for just one scene - the burning vodka glasses at the bar - Cybulski at his best.

And lastly - the motto of the movie (and of the book as well):

"Will ash and chaos be left in the end, that follows a storm into abyss Or may a diamond be found in the ash, a dawn of an everlasting victory"

Cyprian Kamil Norwid

PS: I hope Mr Norwid will not turn in his grave at the quality of my translation but that part of a poem by CK Norwid sums up the movie really well.


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