Wajda. Andrzej Wajda is the great polish auteur who emerged in the wake of WWII. I’ve always paired him with another great who made one hell of a debut in 1955- Satyajit Ray. Both followed up the Italian Neorealists blending history, accuracy, and drama, both arrived with a bang of a debut, and both started with a trilogy (the Apu Trilogy for Ray and the war trilogy for Wajda which includes A Generation, Kanal, and Ashes and Diamonds). It is the third and final leg of that trilogy, Ashes and Diamonds. that is Wajda’s strongest effort (and the images below bear that out) but as far as his resume goes, the impressive number (nine) of archiveable films – all made with his dedication to authenticity and documenting a time and place—is a plus. His weakness, at least at this point in my studies, is his lack of a second film after Ashes and Diamonds to land in the top 100 of their respective decade.
Best film: Ashes and Diamonds. Yet another case for the late 1950’s and early 1960’s to be the finest era in cinema history. Wajda’s great work blended the atrocities of war with truly exceptional visuals.
total archiveable films: 9
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 1 (Ashes and Diamonds)
most overrated: I may come to regret this upon revisit and further study (and I hope I do regret it) but I can’t get behind the TSPDT consensus putting Ashes and Diamonds at #215 of all-time. I haven’t seen it in 10 years (and the last time it was on VHS) so have to add that caveat.
most underrated I don’t have one for Wajda—Ashes and Diamonds is the only film that lands on the TSPDT list. They do add three films between 1001-2000 but I think I’m in the same spot roughly.
gem I want to spotlight : I just think you absolutely have to start with the War trilogy. It is where he starts and, again, from what I’ve seen, his best work—no reason not to start there.
- Like Italian Neo-realist Rossellini Wajda is most well-known for his war trilogy that deals with WWII and the aftermath
- Kanal’s work – the enclosed area as a set-piece – would go on to influence films like Das Boot
- Wajda, clearly from these mise-en-scene’s shown here, was not satisfied with simply documenting the horrors of WWII, clearly there’s the influence of German expressionism (certainly more so than Rossellini or De Sica) or even von Sternberg’s penchant for obstructing and designing a frame
- Ashes and Diamonds
- Promised Land
- Man of Marble
- A Generation
- Man of Iron
- Landscape After Battle
- A Love in Germany
By year and grades
|1955- A Generation
|1958- Ashes and Diamonds
|1970- Landscape After Battle
|1974- Promised Land
|1976- Man of Marble
|1981- Man of Iron
|1983- A Love in Germany
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives