Ashes and Diamonds (#285)

Type: New Blu-Ray

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.


On the Blu-ray: New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

On the DVD: restored high-definition digital transfer

Audio commentary from 2004 featuring film scholar Annette Insdorf

New video essay by Insdorf on the film’s legacy (Blu-ray only)

Andrzej Wajda: On “Ashes and Diamonds,” a 2005 program featuring director Andrzej Wajda, second director Janusz Morgenstern, and film critic Jerzy Plazewski

Archival newsreel footage on the making of the film

Rare behind-the-scenes production photos, publicity stills, and posters (DVD only)

New English subtitle translation

PLUS: An essay by film scholar Paul Coates