A Generation was Andrzej Wajda’s fist major film, made in 1954 when he was 28 years old, the year after Stalin’s death. It is heavily influenced by orthodox Marxism, but as with his later, anti-communist, films, it’s too complex to be put in a box.
A Generation was the second feature length film of the Polish director Andrzej Wajda. Unlike Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows, which is a polished masterpiece of world-historical significance, A Generation is an apprentice work. It’s an ideologically confused jumble of messages wrapped up in a film that, while showing flashes of brilliance, often strains credibility, relies too much on ham-fisted melodrama, and concludes on a note far too personal for Nazi-occupied Poland.
As isolated as the Polish cinema was from the west in 1954, it’s clear that the 26-year-old Andrzej Wajda was thinking along the same lines as Nicholas Ray in Rebel Without a Cause. Stach Mazur, played by Tadeusz Łomnicki, who bears some resemblance to James Dean, is a street punk living in Wola, a rough working class suburb of Warsaw. It’s 1943. Wola, which would, only a year later, be the sight of one of the worst massacres…
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