Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A GENERATION (Polish) (1954)

What a profound and wide impact two world war made in shaping the art, literature and cinema of the world. The war gave a distinct new voice to cinema where the motion picture no longer remained just an illusory escapist entertainment in dark but become a contemplative reality window the world avoids to see. It’s just not suffice to label this films as either anti-war and Neorealist cinema because ultimately they show us the grim and tragic reality of humanity in general proclaiming that tragedy is birth of all original arts.

“Once there was a wise bearded man by the name of Karl Marx. He once wrote that workers were paid just barely enough to renew their strength. These days we don’t even get that, we have to scrounge to survive,” said an exploited Polish apprentice to another newly appointed one while working together for making wooden furniture for their enemy. The time was 1942, the place was Warsaw and the loss was ‘A Generation’ struggled and sacrificed under a false hope to live liberated happy life. A young idealist protagonist named Stach slowly drawn in Nazi occupied Poland towards uprising against oppressive regime. First by that shockingly lost a friend by a German gun while playing mischief to steal coal on transport train, then by meeting an old communist apprentice and finally by accidentally discovering a gun in wastage garbage at job and joining a union of young polish liberation fighters. He forms his own group and finally shot a German Gestapo in a bar.  

With his first breakthrough film of famous war trilogy Andrzej Wajda portrayed the stark chronicle of disillusionment where a bunch of young idealist men drawn towards fight for motherland. He sets the youthful romance and idealist enthusiasm confronted with forces of war. The romance with gun, woman and motherland finally proved too hard illusion to bear. Along with Wajda, the film is a debut feature of two polish men hard to resist- one is Wajda’s personal favorite actor Cybulski in a forgettable role and the other is amateurish and boyish Roman Polanski as actor. However the part of main protagonist Stach is played so naturally by Tedeusz Lomnicki.

 In the entire war trilogy Wajda heroes remained young men juxtaposed their romance with gun and woman and both turned out as illusions in tragedy of world war. All three films maintain striking visuals showing us the uncompromising stark images instantly sets you towards the feel of mood and atmosphere of war clad Poland. Watch that train sequence, hanging dead bodies lined up on electric poles or spiral staircase shootout and you’ll know what I mean.   

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