Poland, 1956 (MIFF 1958, Programme 3)

Director: Andrzej Wajda

On the first of August 1944 the city of Warsaw rose against the Nazi occupiers. Through long incredible weeks the) continued the struggle until they were defeated and the city was destroyed by the Nazis in a fanatical and hideous reprisal.

Uncompromisingly realistic in its presentation, Kanal is a film of despair and of unrewarded heroism. Grim and powerful, stark and, at times, frighteningly convincing, it builds with swift. harsh strokes an atmosphere of almost unbearable tension. In the first part the scattered remnants of a resistance group are being harried from corner to corner of tire crumbling ruins of the city. In the longer last part they are driven like rats into the sewers of Warsaw to their death at the hands of the invading Germans -: their fate none the less terrible for being inevitable. The detachment perishes in twos and threes. lost in the echoing steamy catacomb of tunnels. Among the group thus driven to a slow death in this world of rotting squalor, two couples share a love which is all the more passionate because it is doomed. Those who find a way out crawl into daylight only to find the Nazi firing squads waiting.

This second film of a newcomer to international fame, the 31-year-old director Wajda, received a special prize Cannes Festival.

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