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DVD: Ashes and Diamonds/Popiól i diament (1958)
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1 (NTSC)

November 18, 2003



Genre: War / Drama  
On the last day of Word War II, a group of Polish patriots plot to assassinate a mid-level Communist functionary.




Directed by:

Andrzej Wajda
Screenplay by: Andrzej Wajda,  Jerzy Andrzejewski
Music by: Filip Nowak
Produced by: Stanislaw Adler

Zbigniew Cybulski,  Ewa Krzyzewska,  Waclaw Zastrzezynski,  Adam Pawlikowski,  Bogumil Kobiela,  Jan Ciecierski,  Stanislaw Milski,  Artur Mlodnicki,  Halina Kwiatkowska,  Ignacy Machowski

Film Length: 99 mins
Process/Ratio: 1.33:1
Black & White
Anamorphic DVD: No
Languages:   Polish Mono & Pseudo-stereo / English Subtitles
Special Features :  

Behind-the-Scenes Stills (4) / Original Poster Art (4) / Cast & Crew Bio

Comments :

1959 FIPRESCI [Critics's Prize] Award Winner (FIPRESCI Award) at Venice Film Festival 1960 BAFTA Nominated for Best Actor (Zbigniew Cybulski) and Director (Andrzej Wajda)

The third film in director Andrzej Wajda's War Trilogy mixes the strong visual contrasts of the film noir genre here beautifully composed for widescreen by cinematographer Jerzy Wojcik with a realist style, using authentic locations to maximize the plight of the film's tragic characters on what should be a day for celebration: Liberation from the Nazis.

Polart's transfer is derived from a converted PAL master, using a really nice print, and the label has reconfigured the sound mix to a rather effective Dolby Pro Logic design. There's virtually no score in the film mostly source music and the sound designers took advantage of the crisp dialogue tracks and sound effects. Some effective ambience and panning effects are used with restraint never reduced to gimmickry and employed to add an extra subtext to a film that already adds some heavy visual symbolism.

More like a play involving a collection of emotionally bruised survivors bumping into each other over a 24 hour period, each nudge and stumble affects the other character, and the results are thoroughly compelling.

Like their DVD for Kanal, Polart's added a small still and poster gallery, though it's a shame more info regarding the cast couldn't have been added. Given most of the excellent actors are pretty unfamiliar to viewers of standard Hollywood fare, some follow-up sketches would have be useful, considering Wajda's work received international accolades when released abroad.

The Andrzej Wajda War Trilogy boxed set, from Criterion, includes new transfers of A Generation, Kanal, and Ashes and Diamonds.

© 2004 Mark R. Hasan

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