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.
At the turn of the century, Lodz, Poland was a quick-paced manufacturing center for textiles, replete with cutthroat industrialists and unsafe working conditions. Three young friends, a ... See full summary »
A worker becomes a "man of iron" forged by experience, a son comes to terms with his father, a couple fall in love, a reporter searches for courage, and a nation undergoes historic change. ... See full summary »
In 1976, a young woman in Krakow is making her diploma film, looking behind the scenes at the life of a 1950s bricklayer, Birkut, who was briefly a proletariat hero, at how that heroism was... See full summary »
A young doctor is tired of being sought by women. One night he meets a young girl who all but forces herself into his room where they talk of morals and love. But he loses her when he goes ... See full summary »
Action opens in November of 1793, with Danton returning to Paris from his country retreat upon learning that the Committee for Public Safety, under Robespierre's incitement, has begun a ... See full summary »
Six vignettes follow the Allied invasion from July 1943 to winter 1944, from Sicily north to Venice. Communication is fragile. A woman leads an Allied patrol through a mine field; she dies ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
Majek is shot in the back while running away from military, but in the following scenes his wounds show only in the chest and not in his back. See more »
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...
...Or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike diamond... /The Morning Star of everlasting triumph.
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An essential historical film and visual masterpiece
"Ashes and Diamonds" is both an essential historical film and a visual masterpiece. Set in the first days of Soviet occupation following World War II, the film examines the moral dilemmas of the protagonist, Maciek--a young rebel hit-man-- in following through with the assassination of a leading communist party member--Sczcuka--who will soon be empowered as a means of forming a puppet communist government in Poland. The film is not limited to the perspective of the protagonist, and alternates between the moral dilemmas of each of the characters in fulfilling predetermined Soviet agendas in the formation of a communist Poland.
The visual composition of the film is as masterful as the complexity of the characters and plot. Despite the notoriously bad film technology in the Soviet states and the constraints of Socialist Realism, the film manages not only to capture the potential richness of black and white, but also manages to avoid the standard pitfalls of over-zealous editing that often destroy other contemporary Soviet films. The frames are longer shots in general, and forced schematization through editing is all but absent. The precise composition of each scene throughout the film provides the visual coherency that would otherwise be imposed by careful editing; as an example, see the scene in which Maciek is underneath the staircase in the lobby of the hotel towards the end of the film, or the final "Polish" dance scene.
I would highly recommend some research into the political transitions of Poland in the years directly following WWI before viewing this film for the first time; this film was made for a particular audience who clearly understood certain cultural and historical references that a modern Western audience will inevitably miss (ie. "Were you in Warsaw?"). The thematic and emotional complexity of the film is also enhanced by an understanding of Polish history. I would highly recommend this film for any class examining Eastern Europe or Soviet Russia (which is the context in which I was introduced to this film in particular), or to anyone who would like to better understand the complexity of Cold War politics from a perspective behind the Iron Curtain.
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