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Monday, May 31, 2010

POKOLENIE / A GENERATION (1955)


Polish film icon Andrzej Wajda made his feature debut on this affecting WWII Polish resistance tale, mixing techniques from Italian Neo-Realism with the bleak stylized look of Carol Reed’s THE THIRD MAN. The title refers to the young people who came-of-age during the Nazi occupation, but in retrospect it also refers to the post-war generation of film students who got their start here. And not just behind the camera; that’s Roman Polanski debuting on screen as a resistance fighter. The film was obviously made with Soviet minders in mind, the Communist Party Line trumps history where needed, but did no one notice the unblinking fanatical nature of the protagonist’s love interest? She’s almost as frightening as the enemy. Wajda’s natural facility is unmistakable, even when his technical chops come up short, and after KANAL/’57 and ASHES & DIAMONDS/’58 he was launched on a major career. But those who respond to this early work should try Andrzej Munk’s EROICA/’57 which covers similar terrain in a manner Renoir & Lubitsch might recognize.

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