Popiól i diament, the concluding part of Andrzej Wajda’s trilogy about Warsaw in WWII, is one of the his most famous movies. As the story goes, right after Poland got liberated, and soviet government was established by the military, previously united forces within the polish society, that were fighting the nazis before, became enemies and started fighting each other. Three young men, all members of an anti-communist cell, decided to assasinate some prominent communist, but instead killed a couple of ordinary factory workers by mistake. Later one of the attackes managed to get a room in the hotel right next to the target’s room, but while wating for a chance, he falls for yound and beautiful girl working there as a bar maid.
I suppose, we can imagine a film as a cocktail of different incentives, where those of the main hero weight more than those of a smaller character. In this particular case, let’s look at what incentives drive Maciek (the guy who fell in love). On the one hand, there is ideology, – primary force up to a certain point, basically, the default one. On the other – there goes a desire of personal happiness. It wasn’t a significant factor before, but sudden passion d’amore, very strong and very sincere, and happening, by the way, against the background of deep, powerful absence-of-war euphoria, – it stirred his mind up; he remembered that happiness is not impossible after all, quite the contrary, which in its turn brough in a whole range of different ideas, and all that messed him up so bad that he lost his concentration on the goal, he got deflected.
Frankly, his behaviour in the finale seems quite stupid to me, even with allowances made for the disruptive power of love, – he’s a bit too distracted, a bit too impulsive, – I think, the writers pitched this stronger than was needed. Also, the depiction of romance is a little too sentimental at times. Other than that, it’s a great film, and I can only lament about it because Wajda’s Kanal (the sendon part of the aforementioned trilogy) seems to me much stronger and darker (the latter attribute I take as a sign of great depth), and Ashes and Diamonds is like a soft version of that.
All in all, this film is a great classical work of cinema, a decent and not too obtrusive variant to improve one’s cultural level (if anybody needs that), but it didn’t really touch me.
Released in: 1958
Directed by: Andrzej Wajda
Written by: Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Andrzejewski
Performed by: Zbigniew Cybulski, Waclaw Zastrzezynski, Adam Pawlikowski, Ewa Krzyzewska, Bogumil Kobiela, Jan Ciecierski, Stanislaw Milski, Artur Mlodnicki, Halina Kwiatkowska, Ignacy Machowski, Zbigniew Skowronski, Barbara Krafftówna, Aleksander Sewruk, Zofia Czerwinska, Wiktor Grotowicz
Entertaining quality: 4+ out of 5
Art quality: 4+ out of 5
IMDB page: link