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Andrzej Wadja: Three War Films

Andrzej Wadja's first three films tracked the Polish people and resistance from 1943 until to 1945 and formed a loose trilogy. Because Wadja survived the ghettos and had been a member of the resistance, these films are invaluable not only because they are great art, but because they have the perspective of someone who survived the things he filmed. 1955's A Generation (Pokolenie) follows Stach (Tadeusz Lomnicki ), who gets a job as a carpenter's assistant and learns about the resistance from his mentor Sekula (Janusz Paluszkiewicz), though his interest has as much to do with female resistance leader Dorota (Urszula Modrynska) as anything else. 1957's Kanal is set in 1944 and follows a doomed squadron of the Polish underground. They are led by Zadra (Wienczysalaw Glinski ), but the main characters are mostly the couples. Zadra's aide Madry (Emil Karewicz) and messenger girl Hallinka (Teresa Berezowska) are carrying on, while the arrogant and heroic Korab (Tadeusz Janczar) has a relationship with the messenger Stokrotka (Teresa Izewska), who is also called Daisy and is known to be of easy virtues. The troops take a rest in a abandoned home of some wealth, and the core is joined by a musician Michal (Wladyslaw Sheybal). But after their brief rest they must do battle again, and it's decided the only thing to do is go into the sewers. The squad tries to stay together, but with poor lighting and gas bombs dropped into the gutters, the group is quickly split up. With everyone tired, lost, without food or water, and some hurt or sick, they lose their minds in the endless tunnels. 1958's Ashes and Diamonds (Popiol i diament) begins with a shot of a cross on top of a church and sweeps down to reveal two resistance fighters, Maciek (Zbigniew Cybulski) and Andrzej (Adam Pawlikowski), who are relaxing and waiting for their target. The war is over (the film takes place on May 7th, the last official day of it) and they're waiting for a communist who's come back to town from Russia to help with the restructuring of Poland. The two take out men in a car — in a poetic sequence in front of the church — but as they find out later, they've killed the wrong men. The two then must make good on their assignment — in the end fate brings together the assassin and his prey to both of their demises. A brilliant collection of films that meditate on the price Poland paid during World War II, this is Wadja's masterstroke as a director, and deserving of its canonical status. A Generation is presented in full frame (1.33:1) and 1.0 Polish mono, with optional English subtitles. It includes the featurette "Andrzej Wadja: On Becoming a Filmmaker"and his short film "Ceramics From Ilza," along with a stills gallery. Kanal is presented in full frame (1.33:1) and in 1.0 Polish mono, with optional English subtitles. This disc's supplements are "Andrzej Wadja: On Kanal," "Jan Nowak-Jezioranski: Courier from Warsaw," and another still gallery. Ashes and Diamonds is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and in 1.0 Polish mono with optional English subtitles. This film comes with a commentary track by Columbia University film studies director Annette Insdorf, and also includes "Andrzej Wadja: On Ashes and Diamonds," making-of footage from the film, and still galleries. Three keep-cases in a paperboard slip-case
—DSH

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