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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ellipsis7
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#26 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue Jan 18, 2005 2:33 pm

April or May then...

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Mr Pixies
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#27 Post by Mr Pixies » Wed Jan 26, 2005 7:28 pm

dvdaficianado.com says April 5th is the release date.

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#28 Post by Ashirg » Wed Jan 26, 2005 9:02 pm

That is based on amazon.ca release date

solent

#29 Post by solent » Thu Jan 27, 2005 5:13 am

Just saw a TV doco on world TV stars and found out that Cybulski's death was due to his constant desire to improve his fitness. He would always run up to and jump on to moving trains. Friends interviewed testified to his ongoing mania for this particular activity. One day [in 1967] he tried a train that was moving just a liitle too fast for him and he slipped with the well known result.

Apparently there is a Polish 'James Bond' [to match Cybulski as the Polish 'James Dean']. This actor's TV series is a very hot seller on DVD in Poland today despite the actor being in his 70s.

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#30 Post by ola t » Mon Jan 31, 2005 5:03 pm


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#31 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Mar 03, 2005 7:26 am

There is a nice article from Senses of Cinema reviewing a book about the Postif Journal which has a section relevant to the upcoming Wadja trilogy:
Ado Kyrou's review of Kanal (Andreij Wadja, 1957) best expresses the magazine's bursts of excitement. He declares:

Four out of five of our magazine's writers were present that evening at the cinémathèque where, without fanfare and an audience of, at most, twenty people, the masterpiece A Generation was screened, and at the end we looked at each other the way people do at a moment of discovery. For us a director had been born...enthusiasm and a lack of caution won out and we all agreed: "Wadja is important." With hope and apprehension we waited for the second film by this young Pole. Was he what we imagined? (43)

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#32 Post by mogwai » Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:36 am

http://www.criteriondvd.com/popup_image ... tem_id=340

The back cover of the box is up at Criteriondvd, as well as all back covers for each individual film. It appears they have removed the restoration demonstration feature for A Generation, but have added an additional feature to Kanal -- "Jan Nowak-Jezioranski: Courier from Warsaw, a new 28-minute interview by Wadja of a Warsaw Uprising insider".

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#33 Post by tavernier » Sat Apr 09, 2005 5:49 pm

Just got the set and looked through the discs....the transfers look good, nothing too amazing but good enough. I can do without Annette Insdorf's yacking through Ashes (and I will!), but the new interviews with Wajda are informative....definitely another worthwhile Criterion set, especially from a director previously not in the collection!

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#34 Post by kschell » Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:44 am

tavernier wrote:Just got the set and looked through the discs....the transfers look good, nothing too amazing but good enough. I can do without Annette Insdorf's yacking through Ashes (and I will!), but the new interviews with Wajda are informative....definitely another worthwhile Criterion set, especially from a director previously not in the collection!
Gee, I wonder what's up with amazon.com on this set? They are still posting "This item will be released on April 26, 2005. You may order it now and we will ship it to you when it arrives."

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#35 Post by tavernier » Mon Apr 11, 2005 3:37 pm

kschell wrote:
tavernier wrote:Just got the set and looked through the discs....the transfers look good, nothing too amazing but good enough. I can do without Annette Insdorf's yacking through Ashes (and I will!), but the new interviews with Wajda are informative....definitely another worthwhile Criterion set, especially from a director previously not in the collection!
Gee, I wonder what's up with amazon.com on this set? They are still posting "This item will be released on April 26, 2005. You may order it now and we will ship it to you when it arrives."
I know someone who gets review copies so I see most of the Criterions a few weeks early....it's still being released on Apr. 26.

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#36 Post by swingo » Mon Apr 11, 2005 4:04 pm

kschell wrote:
tavernier wrote:Just got the set and looked through the discs....the transfers look good, nothing too amazing but good enough. I can do without Annette Insdorf's yacking through Ashes (and I will!), but the new interviews with Wajda are informative....definitely another worthwhile Criterion set, especially from a director previously not in the collection!
Gee, I wonder what's up with amazon.com on this set? They are still posting "This item will be released on April 26, 2005. You may order it now and we will ship it to you when it arrives."

My L'Eclisse was sent by amazon a week earlier but my Kagemusha was sent 48 earlier than the release date.


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#37 Post by kevyip1 » Tue Apr 12, 2005 11:24 am

I'm already holding the Wajda set in my hand. Yet Amazon is still showing Apr-26 release. I also got Kagemusa two weeks early. Both of my early shipments were from Amazon. But my other Amazon preorders of DVDs made by other manufacturers didn't arrive early.

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#38 Post by kevyip1 » Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:20 pm

tavernier wrote:Just got the set and looked through the discs....the transfers look good, nothing too amazing but good enough.
But it is a night-and-day difference compared to the Facet Ashes and Diamonds DVD, which looks way too soft like an LD transfer. The Criterion DVD looks much sharper and more detailed.
Last edited by kevyip1 on Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#39 Post by tavernier » Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:22 pm

kevyip1 wrote:
tavernier wrote:Just got the set and looked through the discs....the transfers look good, nothing too amazing but good enough.
But it is a night-and-day difference compared to the Facet DVD, which looks soft like an LD transfer. The Criterion DVD looks much sharper and more detailed.
Let's not even bring up the Facets discs......

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#40 Post by ellipsis7 » Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:30 pm

Any of you guys watched the films yet, and can review the set for us?

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#41 Post by lull » Mon Apr 18, 2005 10:18 am

the DVD Savant review is up.
been up since friday, apparently.

i've been on the fence about buying the set. can anyone recommend a buy instead of a rental (although, the artwork is one of the most beautiful, imo)?

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#42 Post by swingo » Mon Apr 18, 2005 10:23 am

lull wrote:the DVD Savant review is up.
been up since friday, apparently.

i've been on the fence about buying the set. can anyone recommend a buy instead of a rental (although, the artwork is one of the most beautiful, imo)?
Although I haven't seen A Generation, I highly recommend you the set as a blind buy.


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#43 Post by lull » Mon Apr 18, 2005 10:30 am

boy, that was fast :)
recommendation duly noted.
huge thanks.

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#44 Post by Napier » Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:14 am


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#45 Post by lull » Mon Apr 25, 2005 11:31 am


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#46 Post by colinr0380 » Thu May 26, 2005 6:29 am

Just watched through the boxset this weekend and thought both the films and their presentation here was fantastic.

I can see why these were grouped as a trilogy. Although all the characters are different from one film to the next theres a development of events and in filmmaking technique that is very exciting to see, as well as the films showing the development of the Polish war from the Ghetto uprising and the Nazis, to the Warsaw uprising to the last day of war.

All of the films have great shots and sequences, but it is how they are integrated with an interesting and involving story that makes it well worth seeing them.

I really like the final shot from A Generation where innocence confronts experience. The need not to be too critical of communism and Russia leads to a wonderful ironic tone to many events in the film. You could either see the final shot of the film as the reinvigoration of the resistance, as the proof that the loss of Stach's friends was not in vain, so Stachs final tear can represent mourning the loss of his friends or a patriotic tear!

If you think of those fresh faced youngsters about to face the hell of the events of Kanal, then it is hard to see it as happy!

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!

Thinking of the scene in A Generation where Dorota tells them not to get too caught up in the violence of war - that they are only borrowing their guns - I think it resonates quite strongly with Maciek in Ashes and Diamonds as someone who seems to be caught up in the violence and enjoying the killing. I'm thinking of the opening assassination attempt where he seems fully into emptying his gun into his target, but both before and afterwards he is acting completely casually. Perhaps his final senseless death after running from the police is intentional, a peace is coming (even it is an imposed peace) and he is no longer needed. He rejects Krystyna and perhaps, like hoping for the characters in Kanal when we know they die from the start, as an audience we are left to hope for them to get together but feel how impossible it might be for them to be so - not physically, since they make love, but mentally. Maciek is so involved with resistance that he cannot let it go when failure becomes obvious, his other two comrades seem differently committed in that sense - they will either move on and make new plans (Andrzej) or bow to the new regime (Drewnowski and Krystyna). With nobody to give him missions, Maciek is left behind. Maciek's final run is maybe a form of suicide after finishing his last mission, dying as a rebel whose cause has been defeated.

I thought the extras on all the discs were great: it was fun, if a little disturbing, to hear of Wajda's tendency to use live ammunition in the first two films! I thought that Annette Insdorf's commentary was great as well, opening up a country's cinema that I previously had known little about. It was interesting that she mentioned the Orson Welles influence early in the commentary but does not note that brilliant final shot of the dancers walking between the two mirrors which seems an extremely obvious nod to Citizen Kane and the final walk in that film.

I've also fallen for the three beautiful women in each of the films, especially Teresa Izewska from Kanal. I didn't think anyone could look good covered in sewage, but she does. I wonder if the trilogy if anything like Kieslowski's Three Colours trilogy in that the film you like best depends on the woman you like the best?

I was very impressed by this boxset. I'd perhaps place it just below the BRD trilogy in boxset terms because that was an incredibly packed release, but the quality of the Three War Films set was amazing! It also seems to be the first Criterion to have 'screensaver' pictures that appear when the disc is stopped. I've noticed that releases from the likes of Columbia Tristar and Warner Bros have them but this is the first Criterion where all the discs have these pictures in place of the player's normal menu screen when stopped (the Armageddon supplement disc comes up with an image of the old CC logo when stopped, but the film disc itself does not have any image). The screensaver pictures are still images that apart from that are the same as the moving menu screens, without the menu options - clean versions (Just found the same screensaver picture on The Phantom Of Liberty disc, so this looks to be a new constant feature for Criterion)
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#47 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Jun 07, 2005 6:43 am

I was thinking more about the female characters in the films. While they are independent characters, they also seem idealised, maybe more directly representing the values that are being fought for and crushed under the Nazi and Communist regimes. The women seem strong willed, independent minded, confident and capable - all things that the male characters are trying to be. By falling for the male characters they reveal their own weakness of caring for others, something that proves to be their downfall. Dorota in A Generation is only captured after spending the night with Stach (strangely, this reminds me a little of the twist after the pair spend the night together in Brazil). Daisy could save herself in Kanal, but stays in the sewers to try to help Koreb and after she fails her future is left uncertain (and there is the suicide of Tereska after finding out her lover is married - her hope for a future life with Kula crushed when she realises that they were in their relationship for different reasons). Kystyna in Ashes and Diamonds is not physically captured or killed, but it seems Maciek breaks through her mask of indifference and after getting her to show interest in him exposes her to both his leaving and to a subjugation under communism that she might have been able to guard herself against better if she had not met Maciek and been able to hope for a better future for a little while.

The male characters such seem to show their love through more general rather than specific terms, more practical goals such as the death of Kostik (Cybulski) in A Generation stealing coal from a train, or a love in more general terms such as that of the Lieutenant for his men in Kanal. Jasio in A Generation shows this very well. He cannot personally relate to his friend from the ghetto until it is too late and his friend has left, so he rejoins the group not to help one person, but out of a general sympathy - kicked into action by an individual but with a sense of futility of already being unable to save that person and by extension the ideals they represent (similar to the Lieutenant's men already being dead when he returns to the sewers).
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#48 Post by zedz » Wed Jul 06, 2005 12:16 am

A very good, if not quite great, set. The range of extras is decidedly modest (this is no BRD Trilogy), though the Wajda interviews on all three discs are superb. The sole commentary, for Ashes and Diamonds, is a mixed blessing. It's screen-specific, and Insdorf makes some interesting points, but her comments are far more tendentious than they are learned. It's very hard to take her seriously after she speculates that Wajda modelled the plot of Ashes and Diamonds (1958, based on the novel by Andrzejewski) on John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

The films offer a striking illustration of Wajda's rapid early development. A Generation is rather standard Socialist Realism enlivened by several brilliant set-pieces, such as Jasio's death. Did anybody else find the opening sequence, with Cybulski trying to jump onto a moving train, and tumbling off, eerily prophetic?

Kanal, on the other hand, is simply brilliant. Wajda is perfectly in control of the atmosphere and tension, and delivers wonderful genre thrills within a fairly radical narrative structure. Teresa Isewska (as the presumable sole survivor) is one of the great action heroines.

Between viewings, I tend to take Ashes and Diamonds for granted. The iconic scenes lodge in my brain, but I forget how consistently strong the film is: dense, surprising, superbly paced and acted. Good as Kanal was, this film really established Wajda as a filmmaker for the ages, and you can see how much several subsequent Eastern European masters - Tarkovsky, for one - owe to its example. The ghostly dancers at the end of the film could probably be slipped into any Bela Tarr film with ease.

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#49 Post by richast2 » Fri Dec 23, 2005 8:50 pm

zedz wrote:The sole commentary, for Ashes and Diamonds, is a mixed blessing. It's screen-specific, and Insdorf makes some interesting points, but her comments are far more tendentious than they are learned.
not to mention her nauseatingly sibilant manner of speaking. I got through about 5 minutes before I gave up.

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#50 Post by FilmFanSea » Sun Jan 01, 2006 11:37 pm

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?

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