I forgot to write this up the other day, but Michelle brought over a three DVD collection of Andrej Wajda. I know very little of him, other than he’s an obscure Polish filmmaker. Perhaps not so obscure to the film elite, but obscure to me. This is part of the Criterion Collection for Wajda, so someone thinks he’s important. (A quick read of his Wikipedia entry shows he’s a fairly big deal. I’m just too provincial I guess.)
We watched Ashes and Diamonds, set in post war Poland. The communists are in control, but haven’t completely solidified their dominance. Several members of the underground are assigned to kill an important regional communist official, but they shoot the wrong people. Before they can correct their mistake, one of the young men falls in love with a bartender while staking out the official. He wants to get out and go do schmoopy things possibly before he even finishes the job. The film is mostly about his conflicted decision. As best I can tell, that is.
The movie is kind of depressing, but I enjoyed it. Lots of symbolism, most of which I didn’t get. Stuff like lit glasses of alcohol symbolizing youthful optimism. I think the ending is supposed signify the futility of idealism, but the manner in which the ending happened seemed so abrupt and disconnected from the rest of the story that it detracted. In other words, if this idealism is futile, why not have the idealism lead to the depressing ending? But it doesn’t. The depressing ending is actually pretty random. Maybe I just missed something.
Better connected all around was the story of the communist official. One of the sub-plots is one where his son, raised by estranged family, has joined the underground. The depressing ending for the communist official is much more connected to his relationship with his son.
I have two others in the collection that I need to watch.