Quick recap: Maciek Chelmicki is a Polish assassin who has never had any problem killing anyone. No problem that is, until he falls in love.
Fun (?) fact: One of Martin Scorsese’s favorite films. He showed it to Leonardo DiCaprio while filming The Departed so that DiCaprio would see another character with the same struggles that he had.
My thoughts: I’ve never been a big ‘war movie’ kind of person, especially not the ones centered around World War II, because there are SO many out there already. My opinion has started to shift a little lately, thanks to this list. I’m still not too keen on America centered war movies but I find ones from other countries like The Ascent or Rome, Open City to be fascinating, perspective wise. Ashes and Diamonds is a great example of this kind of thing because I have never really thought about what Poland had to go through after the war. Warsaw was in almost complete ruin during WWII and that’s about all I know, so it didn’t occur to me that someone would have to deal with the consequences of a broken country, one that was so fragile after conflict.
Apparently, before France started making ‘artsy’ movies, Poland was considered to be one of the best for that sort of thing. Ashes and Diamonds is a beautiful film. I liked that it wasn’t a straightforward action movie, even though the plot would have me believe otherwise. There were so many haunting parts, my favorite being Maciek and Krystyna strolling through the destroyed church. I loved the contrast between the couple falling in love in the midst of destruction. And just in case it wasn’t clear what was going on, the director threw in the couple coming upon the bodies of the two men Maciek had accidentally killed.
The real reason to watch Ashes and Diamonds is for Maciek Chelmicki. I loved him from the very first scene when he was laying down in the grass, casually waiting to carry out the assassination. He looked so badass in his colored shades and so above it all. He was the true James Dean of Poland- laid back, a rebel, a guy with a story. I thought the idea of him falling in love so quickly was a little silly but it made sense in the context that Chelmicki had never considered the idea before and latched on so fiercely. The final scene as he realized he had been shot fatally and would never get to experience another way of life was heartbreaking, to say the least.
FInal review: 4/5
Up next: Apocalypse Now