Ashes and Diamonds, directed by Andrzej Wajda, tells a story of Poland’s transition. While the Germans occupied, partisan groups lived together in peace. On their first day of freedom, nobles, bourgeois, and workers begin to fight each other; yet a new love story is aflame.
My task as director is not just to provide a nice evening’s entertainment. The most important thing is to make people think.
— Andrej Wajda, Academy Award Tribute
The Horrors of Nazism and the Tragedies of Communism
Our movie this month, Ashes and Diamonds (1958), brings the horrors of Nazism and the tragedies of Communism to the screen. The story takes place over a twelve-hour period in Poland at the end of World War II. It is about a young Polish soldier who is ordered to assassinate a high-ranking Communist figure. Drama, irony, romance, and unexpected twists give the viewers a thought-provoking experience. Continue reading Ashes and Diamonds: Will There Remain Among the Ashes a Star-Like Diamond→
Ashes and Diamonds (1958) is the third among a trilogy of war films that spurred Steven Spielberg to write a passionate letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recommending its Polish director, Andrzej Wajda, for an Honorary Oscar. Wajda was awarded that Oscar in 2000.
Born in Poland on March 6, 1926, events leading to World War II—and the war itself—shaped Wajda’s formative years. The aftermath of the War also heavily influenced his film-making career, working under a Communist regime where censorship limited creative production. Since censors paid attention more to dialog than images, Wajda slyly filmed his movies accordingly. Continue reading Ashes and Diamonds: Andrzej Wajda on Directing→
The official socialist realist system—with its predictable conflicts, its negative types and positive heroes, and its progressive and optimistic resolutions, encouraged the production of grossly distorted representations of actual life and actual history.
The essence of a political film is in speaking about what is unspoken; in exposing what is concealed; in unveiling the realities behind the events.
—Wajda quoted in Yakir (1984)
It is interesting to observe that through our first-ever “Fall Film Competition,” the group has quite serendipitously assembled a film s that can arguably be considered “Films of Social Defiance.” Even though not all can be classified under an official rubric of revolution, all four are enlightening with respect to a time of radical change in a cultural or national sense. Ashes and Diamonds is celebrated for its appeal to an oppressed people who hear a voice that resonates with them in its representations and symbolism that defies socialist realism mandates. Continue reading Ashes and Diamonds: Wajda and Socialist Realism→
Insight for film groups, critics, scholars, and fans