Ashes and Diamonds
Edition no. 285
A milestone of Polish cinema, this electrifying international sensation by Andrzej Wajda—the final film in his celebrated war trilogy—entwines the story of one man’s moral crisis with the fate of a nation. In a small Polish town on the final day of World War II, Maciek (the coolly charismatic Zbigniew Cybulski), a fighter in the underground anti-Communist resistance movement, has orders to assassinate an incoming commissar. But when he meets and falls for a young barmaid (Ewa Krzyzewska), he begins to question his commitment to a cause that requires him to risk his life. Ashes and Diamonds’ lustrous monochrome cinematography—wreathed in shadows, smoke, and fog—and spectacularly choreographed set pieces lend a breathtaking visual dynamism to this urgent, incendiary vision of a country at a crossroads in its struggle for self-determination.
- Audio commentary from 2004 featuring film scholar Annette Insdorf
- New video essay by Annette Insdorf on the film’s legacy
- Andrzej Wajda: On “Ashes and Diamonds,” a 2005 program featuring director Andrzej Wajda, second director Janusz Morgenstern, and film critic Jerzy Plazewski
- Archival newsreel footage on the making of the film
- An essay by film scholar Paul Coates