Ratings & Reviews
- New, restored high definition digital transfers
- Audio commentary by film scholar Annette Insdorf on Ashes and Diamonds
- More than 90 minutes of exclusive new interviews with Andrzej Wajda and colleagues, discussing the director's career and the making of these films
- Vintage newsreel on the making of Ashes and Diamonds
- Ceramics from Ilza (Ceramika Ilzecka), Wajda's 1951 film school short
- Jan Nowak-Jezioranski: Courier from Warsaw, an interview by Wajda of a Warsaw uprising insider
- Rare behind the scenes production photos, publicity stills and posters
- A gallery of Wajda's original drawings and paintings
- New and improved English subtitle translations
The second of Polish director Andrzej Wajda's WWII trilogy, following Pokolenie (A Generation) and preceding Popiol I diament (Ashes and Diamonds), Kanal is the most physically harrowing of the set. Based on the experiences of Jerzy Stefan Stawinski, a Polish patriot who participated in the battle for Warsaw in 1939 as an 18-year-old and in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, the action takes place in the last week of the 63-day Uprising, as the Nazis hunt down what few freedom fighters remain. A band of Poles takes to the sewers in hopes of escaping, but they become disoriented by the darkness and the fumes of the waist-deep filth. Whenever the Poles try to emerge for orientation or relief, the Germans are there to greet them with a hail of bullets. Kanal was Wajda's coming-out film; it won two prizes at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival and clicked with both European and American audiences, in spite of its grueling story and pessimistic tone. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi
Ashes and Diamonds
This is the last film in the trilogy that began Andrzej Wajda's career as a director. Preceding this wartime drama are Pokolenie (1955) and Kanal (1957). Once again, Wajda presents a strong anti-war statement, this time in the personae of two men who are given orders on the last day of World War II in Poland to murder a leading communist. The orders come from the part of the resistance that opposes the new communist regime. One of Wajda's favorite performers and a friend, Zbigniew Cybulski, plays the man who eventually pulls the trigger and kills the communist leader -- and the results are not what he expected. In 1959, Popiol I Diament won in competition at the British Academy Awards and at the Venice Film Festival. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi
A Generation is the first of Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda's "underground trilogy"-and also Wajda's first-ever feature film. Originally titled Pokolenie, the film dissects the impact that World War II had on the youth of Poland. Tadevsz Lomnicki plays an impressionable young Warsaw resident who falls in love with resistance leader Ursula Modrzinska. The passion they feel towards their cause is inextricably entwined with the intensity of their feelings towards one another. During several crucial moments, the director contrasts the "official" version of wartime events with the actual facts (many experienced first-hand by Wajda), partly as a means of explaining the peacetime disillusionment of so many young Poles. As a result, the film was subject to an overabundance of government interference when it was first released. Watch closely in the Underground scenes of A Generation and you'll spot a young Roman Polanski. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Cast & Crew
- Wienczyslaw Glinski - Lieutenant 'Splinter'
- Teresa Izewska - 'Daisy'
- Tadeusz Janczar - Corporal Korab
- Emil Karewicz - 'Wise'
- Stanislaw Mikulski - 'Slim'