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Ashes and Diamonds

Andrzej Wajda
Poland 1958 / 97’

On the eve of peace, the local authorities gather in a hotel to celebrate the end of war, and among the guests is a communist, Szczuka. An underground organization sentenced him to death and he is to be executed by Maciek Chełmicki, a soldier of the Home Army. Maciek fails to kill him at the first attempt and therefore he also comes to the hotel and faces his victim. In the jubilant atmosphere, and especially after an encounter with the barmaid, Krystyna, he starts to doubt. Should one still kill, now that the war is over? But for a young man from the resistance movement, there is no alternative in the post-war reality.

The film received enthusiastic reactions both from the audiences and the critics. Stanisław Grochowiak wrote: Ashes and Diamondsby Andrzej Wajda is a work of a moralist and a philosopher. This is a masterpiece, where political positions serve to show ultimate truths. Zbigniew Cybulski played Maciek using a new type of acting, typical for James Dean and Marlon Brando. His clothes and sunglasses do not actually fit the actual image of a Home Army insurgent, but his performance is legendary. It is hard to imagine someone else playing Maciek Chełmicki, although Wajda seriously considered another actor - Tadeusz Janczar.

Beata Cyganek

Andrzej Wajda, film and theatre director, screenwriter and stage-designer, born in 1926. He studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków (1946-1950) and then directing at the National Film School in Łódź. Andrzej Wajda is one of the most distinguished and popular Polish directors and a co-founder of the Polish School of the 1950s and 1960s. He started his professional career working with Aleksander Ford on the film Five from Barska Street. His feature debut was A Generation), a story about young people of the suburbs of Warsaw during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Wajda is an extraordinarily prolific and universal director. He has made very different films: psychological, historical, political, literature adaptations. In every genre, his works have made history in Polish cinema. For his outstanding services to the film industry Wajda has received numerous prestigious awards. In 2000 he was the first Polish filmmaker to receive an honorary Oscar.

Wajda is also a theatre director. He works at Teatr Stary in Kraków and Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw.

Filmography:

1954 Pokolenie/ A Generation

1957 Kanał/ Canal

1958 Popiół i diament/ Ashes and Diamonds

1959 Lotna

1960 Niewinni czarodzieje/ Innocent Sorcerers

1965 Popioły/ The Ashes

1968 Wszystko na sprzedaż/ Everything for Sale

1968 Bramy raju/ Gates to Paradise

1970 Krajobraz po bitwie/ Landscape After the Battle

1973 Wesele/ The Wedding

1974 Ziemia obiecana/ Promised land

1976 Człowiek z marmuru/ Man of Marble

1979 Panny z Wilka/ The Girl from Wilko

1981 Człowiek z żelaza/ Man of Iron

1983 Danton

1986 Kronika wypadków miłosnych/ Chronicle of Amorous Accidents

1992 Pierścionek z orłem w koronie/ The Ring with a Crowned Eagle

1996 Panna Nikt/ Miss Nobody

1999 Pan Tadeusz

2002 Zemsta/ The Revenge

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