Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

Ashes and Diamonds (Popiol i diament)Luchshie-filmyi-v-retsenziyah-Pepel-i-almaz-Popiol-i-diament-1958-694x1024
Directed by Andrezej Wajda
Written by Jerzy Andrezejewski and Andrezej
1958/Poland
Zespol Filmowy “Kadr”
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
#348 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

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.

The beauty and power of this film take my breath away.

The film takes place on the day the Germans surrender to the Allies at the end of WWII. The Polish Home Army continues to fight.  Maciek is now a soldier and hitman for the nationalists.  He takes orders from Andrezej.  Their mission is to assassinate a leader of the Communist side.  The first attempt goes badly wrong when they kill two innocent men who show up at the wrong place and time.

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The group proceed to town to take a second crack at the kindly old man.  They find themselves in a hotel where a banquet celebrating the Allied victory is taking place.  When Maciek falls for a beautiful barmaid, he has a crisis of conscience.

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The story is a simple one but the psychological depth and symbolic representation of warring strains within society are profound.  Each frame is composed for maximum impact.  The deep-focus photography is stunning.  Highly recommended.

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4 thoughts on “Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

  1. Finally syncronized, Bea!
    This is a movie with an impact and a lot of meaning loaded into every frame.
    You have watched the other movies in the war trilogy, right? Is it a continuing story featuring the same characters? If that is the case it feels a bit stupid to start with the end.

    • The characters are different in each film. It’s only a “trilogy” in the loosest sense, in that they are all about the War and the Resistance. Generation is about the early days of the resistance and Kanal is about later in the war. Highly recommend all of them.

  2. I think it’s a wonderful film, even if the ending goes on a little too long. it’s also an incredibly gutsy film to have the meaning it does based on the time and place in which it was made. I also like that it can be interpreted in different ways by different viewers. There’s enough symbolism here that just about anyone can drag out the meaning that makes the most sense, and I mean that in only the most positive way.

    I should revisit this one of these days.

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