Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

Andrej Wajda has died.

What an incredible career he had. He made films under Stalinism, post Stalinist communism, under capitalism, in France and in Poland. He somehow managed to  reflect a deeply critical view of Polish communism while remaining largely in the socialist camp. A true giant of cinema, the John Ford of Eastern Europe. Ashes and Diamonds is his best known, and probably most representative film.

Writers Without Money

Is censorship, or the threat of censorship, always bad for art? Or does the threat of censorship force the artist to become better at what he does, more subtle, and, in the case of political art, less crudely propagandistic. Ashes and Diamonds, Andrzej Wajda’s third feature length film, was made in 1958, shortly after Stalin’s death. That Polish filmmakers could now make films outside of the official guidelines for “socialist realism” by no means gave them permission to attack the Communist Party. On the other hand, the betrayal of the uprising in Warsaw in 1944 still rankled, and the conservative, nationalist “Home Army” remained popular, even 14 years later. Wajda, therefore, had to strike a delicate balance. If he made an openly anti-Communist film, it wouldn’t get through the censors. But if he made a film from the point of view of the Communist Party, it would be dull, uninspired…

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