films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Ashes and Diamonds

PopiĆ³l i Diament
1958 / 103m - Poland
Drama, War
Ashes and Diamonds poster

One of Poland's biggest classics. I'll readily admit I'm not too familiar with Polish cinema (even though my all-time fav was shot there), its closeness to Russian and Eastern-European drama is something that deters me from having a real go at it. Ashes and Diamonds only seemed to underline my bias.

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Right after WWII ends, Poland becomes a battlefield where the Polish resistance and Russian soldiers fight each other to take hold of the country. Maciek is tasked to kill a communist leader, but he turns out to be one of the soldiers Maciek fought with during WWII. This puts him in a very awkward position.

The cinematography is decent, though it isn't until the very end that it finally comes into its own. Performances are also decent, but not good enough for a film that relies so much on its characters. The plot is quite slow and there's not that much intrigue, which makes this quite a chore to sit through. Not my cup of tea.


1957 / 91m - Poland
Canal poster

A classic war film, that reminded me a bit of Le Trou (especially those final 30 minutes). I didn't really care for Wajda's direction though. The first hour, in particular, was pretty dry and dreary. It picks up when they finally enter the titular sewer system, but by then the film had already lost me and the finale isn't that strong that it could rectify the rest of the film.

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Canal is a film about the Polish revolt in Warsaw against the Germans in 1944. The Germans launch a final assault, that drives the remaining Polish fighters into the sewers. The tunnels are dark and the smell is horrible, and every escape route they find appears to be sealed off by German soldiers.

The performances are pretty wooden and the start of the film is very slow. I imagine the first hour is there to build a relationship with the characters, but that part failed for me. The trip through the sewers is more thrilling, but it just wasn't enough to save the film for me. Not the worst, but not very memorable either.