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.