Saturday, December 03, 2005

Day 29: "Ashes and Diamonds"

Director: Andrzej Wajda 1958
Set in a Polish town on the day (and night) that World War ll ended in Europe, Wajda's film follows a young Resistance fighter ordered to assassinate a Communist minister (the Polish Resistance had fought the Germans, then turned its attention to the approaching Russian occupation). Brilliantly photographed in black-and-white, this is a fascinating film; it's also remarkable that Wajda was able to get it made and distributed, for the movie focuses on the Resistance fighter and not the Communist bureaucrat. Definitely not what the censors were expecting. The Resistance fighter is played by the magnetic Zbigniew Cybulski, whose James Deanish performance may seem at first anachronistic given the film's 1945 setting. But Cybulski's approach works; it's as if Wajda wanted to attract a young audience and encourage it to think thoughts of a revolution--a revolution which eventually emerged and triumphed.


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