, 91min, polOmeU
Arguably the greatest 20th century Polish filmmaker who never really left his motherland for long, unlike several of his compatriot colleagues, Andrzej Wajda carved his place in film history as an shrewd observer of Poland’s historical turmoil. Wajda’s debut feature POKOLENIE (1955) is an intimate account of growing up in Nazi-occupied Warsaw and marks the beginning of his “war trilogy” that continued two years later with KANAL. Here, Wajda shifts from depicting civilian life under occupation to the portrayal of the brave Home Army resistance fighters as they try to escape through the labyrinthine sewers of Warsaw, with the Germans in hot pursuit. A claustrophobic study of heroism under immense pressure, KANAL is based on a real-life event, is considered the first film ever made about the Warsaw Uprising, and already bears all the trademarks of Wajda’s signature style. The volatile mixture of the personal and political, the questioning of official, state-sanctioned historical narratives (critical opinions were always, of course, concealed behind poetic metaphors), the corrosive effects of ideology on an individual, the price of responsibility – all also staples of the so-called Polish Film School that Wajda helped to create with his first two films.