Ashes and Diamonds is set on the last day of World War II and the first day of peace. Seen through the eyes of Maciek (Zbigniew Cybulski), a young Polish resistance soldier, the old is rapidly mixing with the new. In a few hours dawn will bring a new communist regime to Poland. This is not the independence for which the idealistic young man and his brothers in arms have been fighting and dying. Should Maciek continue his combat when he wants so badly to live a normal, peaceful life? An iconic portrait of the dilemma of a whole generation in Poland, rooted in the literary tradition of great, tragic dramas of romanticism.

“Often dubbed ‘the Polish James Dean,’ Cybulski inhabits the conflicted Home Army soldier . . . with a stunning mix of youthful bravado and world-weary cynicism.” —Janus Films

Read an in-depth essay on this film from the Criterion Collection.

Watch on YouTube

Andrzej Wajda
Polish with English subtitles
Running Time
104 minutes