Ashes and Diamonds comments

Members' ratings and comments for Ashes and Diamonds shown on 16th March 2016


Members’ rating: 60.9% A-12, B-10, C-13, D-6, E-7.  48 votes from 106 members who signed in.
Members’ comments:
[We have sequenced the comments by the rating given]

'A’s: Hard hitting picture of a troubled time: brilliant production: ‘Maciek’ a great performance.  Astonishing – the issues and the depth of mood were totally engrossing.  A great film with an incredible theme, one of duality in both the setting and the characters: from the depressing Polish atmosphere in ruins compared to the happiness of the people at the hotel, or the main character’s need for love and the waitress’s need for isolation: more broadly, the life and death theme, a young man whose primary goal is to stay alive (as mentioned a few times) who ends up dead the next morning with a fate of being eaten by crows:  The resistance and the Government who were so apart for the whole film ended up hugging, one dead and one alive, after the main character has shot his target: finally the title – ashes (very relevant to the people of Poland, especially at the time) represented by the resistance boy – and the diamond – the waitress.  A masterpiece.  I’m glad I saw this, even though there were parts I didn’t understand but I appreciated the cinematography.  A Fascinating reflection of post-war Eastern Europe.  Brilliant – first seen aged 17 in 1962 – age now 71!  A great parody on everything Polish – but things have much improved since.  Content wonderful, style sadly dated.  Great cinematography.  Brilliant microcosm of a society at the crossroads, shot through with memorable images.

‘B’s:  Enjoyable. Another very good film – 2015/16 is a vintage year!  Beautiful film, kept me engrossed.  Brilliant filming.  Superb, melancholy – considering it was made in 1958 very good.

‘C’s: Beautifully filmed.  This film had it all – lighting, script, music, content and a surreal ending, Polonaise and horse (a la Lobster?)  Another movie to be seen – I like black and white: this was good, no more, no less.  Not an enjoyable film or a way to celebrate war’s end.  An acquired taste - but not mine.  Interesting to see it again, but it hasn’t aged well.  Good but depressing.  Masterpiece.  Slow but good film.  Interesting.

‘D’s: Dull, slow. I found it difficult to follow.  Meant nothing to me – a let-down, long and dull.  Technically could not be faulted but I’m afraid I lost the plot quite early on.  Couldn’t forget at all that I was watching a film: black humour quite amusing: rather poor acting, confusing.  And this was a classic? Lord above!

‘E’s: How could I have slept through this over-loud and dreadfully over-played “theatrical” film – we should have had “Kanal” from the same trilogy!  Zzzz An exercise in patience – I’ve no idea how I stayed awake for that: dire and dreary.  Not for me: if it had been a Sunday afternoon film on BBC2, I would have turned it off.  Some memorable moments though they did not compensate for the tediousness and melodrama.  I thought it would never end!  Really disappointing, failed to hold my interest – I nearly fell asleep at least 8 times – bring back the Lobster!

Several members have asked for the text from the memorial in the ruined church read out by Krystyna and then completed from memory by Maciek.  This comes from a poem by the 19th century poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid which inspired the title of the novel by Jerzy Andrzejewski on which the film is based.  There are several translations around on the web but the following is the text used in the film (taken from the subtitles):

So often are you as a blazing torch
with flakes of burning hemp falling about you.
Flaming, you know not if flames freedom bring or death,
consuming all that you most cherish.
Will only ashes remain, and chaos,
whirling into the void or will the ashes
hold the glory of a starlike diamond,
the Morning Star of everlasting triumph.

This scene from the film is available on YouTube at

There is a very interesting article about the poem and its use in the film at: