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Thursday, May 15, 2014

DROGA NA ZACHOD / THE ROAD TO THE WEST (1961)

The ‘road to the West’ in this WWII endgame story is a train heading toward ‘the front.’ But as a Polish pic from the 1960s, this ain’t your regular military supply train, it’s an existential military supply train. At first, the Ruskies are in charge, with an officer who commandeers the rails and ‘recruits’ a pensioned engineer to get things up & running. The old man will work, but only with a proper assistant. What he gets is a young Pole with zero experience, but a great desire to get out of Russian territory and restart his life in one of the Polish towns they have to pass thru. Whether anyone will get past the bombs, strafing planes and even a switch from Russian officers to Germans is debatable. War, it seems, is Hell. Director Bohdan Poreba runs a decent show and stages some straightforward action set pieces to reasonable effect. (To the extent you can see them in PolArt’s smeary-looking DVD transfer.) But this is second-tier futility-of-war stuff at best.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Also out of Poland: Andrej Munk’s EROICA/’57 covers similar terrain to superb effect in a double-bill of two 40 minute stories.

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