We finish up the final chapter of Andrzej Wajda's Three War Films with a film that takes place in the aftermath of armistice. Well, armistice for some. Ashes and Diamonds is a brilliant piece of cinema the contemplates where a country can go after national trauma tears its core. It's also a film that exists in a suddenly more culturally open Poland and it wears its western influences on its sleeve.
We continue our journey through the Three War Films of Andrzej Wajda and our deep dive into Polish World War 2/Post-War history with Kanal, his second full length and a marked technical improvement from last week's A Generation.
We start a trip through the early work -- the War Films -- of Polish director Andrzej Wajda this week. We start with his first film, and indeed the first film for many of the on and off screen talent involved: A Generation from 1955. This film, made before the Soviet "thaw" hit Poland, cautiously tells the story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in a way that hopefully won't make too many Poles angry, though mostly not making the Soviets angry. Wadja, to his credit, hoped the film would make people more communist than the Soviets ever wanted to be. It did not.
An editor's note: we've settled on a system where our episode numbers match to the film's Criterion Spine Number, but with boxsets that contain films that do not have their own number that always becomes iffy. As such we're going through the films chronologically and adjusting accordingly.
We've seen Roman Polanski before in a cameo in the bonkers Blood for Dracula, but this is our first encounter with him directing. Appropriate, then, that this is his first full length film. Knife in the Water was released in 1962 while Poland was still rather Communist which makes the content of the film perhaps a bit surprising. That doesn't make it good.