Ashes and Diamonds

Ashes and Diamonds

Directed by Andrzej Wajda • 1958 • Poland
Starring Zbigniew Cybulski, Ewa Krzyzewska, Waclaw Zastrzezynski

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 Krzyżewska), 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.

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Ashes and Diamonds
  • Ashes and Diamonds

    Directed by Andrzej Wajda • 1958 • Poland

    On the last day of World War II in a small town somewhere in Poland, Polish exiles of war and the occupying Soviet forces confront the beginning of a new day and a new Poland. In this incendiary environment we find Home Army soldier Maciek Chelmicki, who...



    Recorded in 2004, this commentary features film historian Annette Insdorf.


    These interviews were recorded in December 2003 at Andrzej Wajda’s School of Directing, in Warsaw. In them, Wajda is accompanied by his colleague Janusz “Kuba” Morgenstern and film critic Jerzy Plazewski.

  • ASHES AND DIAMONDS Behind-the-Scenes Newsreel

    This short newsreel appeared in Polish cinemas in 1958 to announce the coming of Andrzej Wajda’s much anticipated third film, ASHES AND DIAMONDS.


    Film historian Annette Insdorf created this video essay in 2020 to further contextualize ASHES AND DIAMONDS within director Andzej Wajda’s career and trace its influence on filmmakers of subsequent generations.