Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
“I’d like to change some things; rearrange my life.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary s Review:
This is likely due to the fact, as DVD Savant points out, that “A popular pro-Communist novel was the source, a choice that insured smooth sailing during production” — although “the powers that be didn’t know that Wajda’s rewrite would displace the central figure of a People’s Minister in favor of a minor character, a hit-man for the nationalists.” To that end, while his actions at first are questionable (given his seeming lack of remorse for killing “the wrong men at the beginning”), Cybulski — “who became a major Polish star because of this film”, and is often likened to James Dean — eventually garners our sympathy given the vulnerability he displays with Krzyzewska.
Peary notes that the “early and late scenes, those in which guns are fired, are fairly exciting”:
… but the “middle scenes” — while “artistically photographed” — are “slow and deadly.” I’m not sure I fully agree, given that the “middle scenes” are designed to show us both Cybulski falling for Krzyzewska (and thus undergoing a transformation), and the humanity of Zastrzezynski (who wasn’t yet tainted by Stalin’s venom) — and there are enough strikingly shot moments to keep us engaged.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)