282-285 Andrzej Wajda: Three War Films

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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#51 Post by denti alligator » Mon Jan 02, 2006 1:21 am

I'm looking forward to getting this. There were many fine releases in 2005, I'm sure many of us had to skip some of the expensive ones for the time being.

And I agree that Keane is a decent commentator, as is Mulvey (if you like her particular brand of Theory-heavy analysis).

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#52 Post by porquenegar » Mon Jan 02, 2006 4:47 am

FilmFanSea wrote:I continue to be surprised that the Wajda box set received so little consideration in end-of-year voting (it didn't even make DVD Beaver's Top 50). Did most people not buy or view this set, or was it downgraded by Annette Insdorf's commentary on Ashes and Diamonds? For the record, I enjoy listening to Insdorf: she prepares meticulously, she has an infectious enthusiasm, and I find her easy to listen to. I guess I am not put off by her "nauseatingly sibilant manner of speaking," either.

That Insdorf and Marian Keane provoke such strong negative reactions in this forum makes me wonder if there isn't a shade of sexism informing those opinions. Anyone wanna take a shot at Laura Mulvey?
I think the set is wonderful (especially Kanal) and listed it on my personal best of 2005 list. I haven't listened to the Ashes and Diamonds commentary yet so I can't comment on that.

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#53 Post by tryavna » Mon Jan 02, 2006 12:49 pm

FilmFanSea wrote:Anyone wanna take a shot at Laura Mulvey?
Don't know if this is sexist or not, but I've always found Mulvey's accent charming. She has that wonderfully English habit of swallowing whole syllables and placing random "r"s after certain vowel sounds.

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#54 Post by Andre Jurieu » Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:08 pm

FilmFanSea wrote: Anyone wanna take a shot at Laura Mulvey?
Hell NO! IMO, her commentary on Peeping Tom is among the best in the collection and I used to regularly request for her participation in Criterion projects in the past.

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#55 Post by portnoy » Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:59 am

Saw a not-so-great 35 of Ashes and Diamonds last night... fine grain, beautiful contrasts, but choppy at places and with a few aggressively persistent verticals.

Reel 5 was the only reel that really had a significant trouble, though: it appeared as though someone had taken white-out to the audio track, muffling the audio through the entire reel. That said, seeing that stunning final reel with dampened audio gave me a new appreciation for how overwhelmingly visual Wajda's storytelling is. Every cut and visual cue seemed magnified and grand, and it occured to me how much the film can work as silent cinema - at times, even the meager subtitles on the print seem unnecessary. Really a remarkable, moving experience. The cut from Maciek tumbling against the brick wall to the extreme close-up of Krystyna at the final dance is overwhelming.

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#56 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:57 pm

I hope MichaelB won't object to my putting a link to his blog post on A Generation here!

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Re: 369-373 Paul Robeson: Portraits of an Artistic

#57 Post by ando » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:42 am

colinr0380 wrote:I was amazed by the opening long takes of Kanal and A Generation - the pan of A Generation and the tracking of Kanal. I was so impressed by Kanal's opening shot in particular that I had to rewind and watch it again a couple of times! I think what makes the shot particularly special is the way the large group uses the whole frame, coming from background to foreground, moving past the camera the coming back into frame as the camera in turn passes them - this lets the audience think of the world outside the screen, but also through the calm camera moves suggests the dispassionate observation of the characters and their fates.

I think black and white perfectly suits the films, but especially Kanal. A colour film would seem to be too shocking, not just looking at the sewage but also in the aftermath of the grenade scene - I think colour might have made that scene unbearable!
Ditto. Also colour might have made all the proceedings look unreal. To this day I don't think most filmmakers have got the colour thing down in war films. Vietnam flicks are often the exception. It seems we'll suspend our disbelief in a Vietnam flicker quicker than, say, a Gulf War flick. Also, there's a kind of romance in a black & white war film that, perhaps, post-Korean war films lack. Perhaps it's the looking back that necessitates the romance. War heroism, in general, is a kind of romance which creates a distance between an audience and the narrative - and distance (as you point out) is key. Also, the romance may be a buffer between the reality of men murdering each other and the audience's capacity to stomach it.

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Re: 282-285 Andrzej Wajda: Three War Films

#58 Post by MichaelB » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:04 am

A double bill of Agnieszka Holland's In Darkness and Jan Komasa's Warsaw '44 might give some idea of what a colour Kanal might have looked like. Interestingly, Komasa's film very much focuses on the huge chasm between romantic idealism and gut-wrenching reality.

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Re: 282-285 Andrzej Wajda: Three War Films

#59 Post by ando » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:05 pm

Thanks for the Warsaw '44 rec. Interesting special feature conversations on Kanal. Not that this isn't obvious to anyone who's studied WWII but I hadn't realized how pivotal the prolonged conflict at Warsaw was in saving Berlin from complete destruction and allowing the subsequent East/West split, which might not have otherwise happened. A bit of revisionist history but the reasoning from one of the participants in the Warsaw Uprising seems sound.

And, man, from the beginning to the end that war was rife with misread intentions of principle actors on the Allied and Axis high command. Not just bluffing and subterfuge but outright delusion! In that regard times sure haven't changed.

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Re: 282-285 Andrzej Wajda: Three War Films

#60 Post by movielocke » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:25 pm

Finally watching the first two films in this set via FilmStruck, but I just had to note that the cover art for a generation and kanal is mind numbingly good, some of the best work in the collection period.

I loved both films and hopefully this weekend I can find time to post more thoughts on them.

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