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Kanal (1957)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | 20 April 1957 (Poland)
In 1944, during the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis, Polish Lieutenant Zadra and his resistance fighters use Warsaw's sewer system to escape the German encirclement.

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(screenplay), (story)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Stokrotka
... Ens. Jacek 'Korab'
... Lt. 'Zadra'
Tadeusz Gwiazdowski ... Sgt. 'Kula'
... Smukly
... Lt. 'Madry'
... Michal 'Ogromny', the composer (as Wladyslaw Sheybal)
Teresa Berezowska ... Halinka
Zofia Lindorf ... Old woman looking for her daughter
Janina Jablonowska ... Woman
Maria Kretz ... Wounded Woman
... Zefir
... Capt. 'Zabawa'
Zdzislaw Lesniak ... Maly
... Lt. 'Gustaw'
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Storyline

A symbolic depiction of hell on Earth, set in the last days of the Warsaw uprising in 1944. Lieutenant Zadra is commanding a company of 43 men in a desperate battle amidst the ruins. Facing German offense and cut off from their comrades, Zadra is commanded to retreat his men through the sewer system ('kanal'). Zadra and his men are reluctant to do so, as it would indicate that they have lost the battle, but decide to obey the orders. However, as the men (and women) retreat, it becomes clear that their desperate attempt to flee from the hell of battle will result only in more death and suffering... Written by Heka A.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"THE END of SEPTEMBER 1944 the Warsaw uprising was drawing to its tragic end." So begins the brilliant new Polish film about the men and women who took to the sewers of Warsaw in flight from the Nazis See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

20 April 1957 (Poland)  »

Also Known As:

Kanal  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Just after the short story by Stawinski was published, Tadeusz Konwicki, the literary manager of Zespól Filmowy "Kadr", decided it should be filmed. Konwicki was looking for the right director and his first choice was Andrzej Munk. Munk, however, backed out of the project when he descended himself to the sewers. He thought it was impossible to depict in the movie two most important characteristics of the sewers: the darkness and the odor. See more »

Quotes

Halinka: It's easier to die when you're in love.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Fejezetek a film történetéböl: A lengyel film (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

Dante in Warsaw
16 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

That this movie was made is a near miracle, since it squeaked out barely 3 years after Stalin died; and the Polish film industry could even begin to suggest that Poles could struggle against the Germans without Soviet "fraternal" help. It looks likely that it was saved from oblivion by the Silver Palm (1957), at least in Poland. My suspicion that this got past the Party censors as a Dantean allegory about the worker and peasant struggles, with each character and episode exposing some lesson. However, like Ashes and Diamonds, much of the real message is just at the surface: regular Poles struggling for a better future.

The real hidden message of the film is a metaphorical struggle against Soviet oppression. Wajda seems to suggest this by quoting Szczepanski(1944): "... But know this: from our tombstones A victorious new Poland will be born And you will not walk this land You Red Ruler of bestial forces!" (1) Indeed the resolution suggests the Stalinist Inferno is far from over. Those who have tried to bring light to the world suffer a Promethean fate.

What seems remarkable to me is the positive spirit, humor, and love of life that most of the characters display in the face of their passage into the underworld. There is additional irony (humorous to me), for example, that the composer attempts to play a particularly patriotic Chopin, but is then ordered to play "something with feeling:" an inane dance tune. (By the way, the Beckstein piano that the composer tries to protect was made by a company that provided Hitler with crucial early support.)

It is also remarkable that such a dark, almost anti-heroic view of combatants was made only 12 years after the event. It is not so far from the spirit of Ernie Pyle, and just think how long it took to make Band of Brothers.

(1) Interview on www.wajda.pl


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