I’m kind of amazed this was shot in 1954- it’s so well done, and very well acted. This film tells the story of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, and does a good job of showing how stupidly courageous and patriotic the Polish were during the event. It takes a lot of heart to fight to the death when you are literally continually surrounded and most of your friends are dead, wounded, or dying. I don’t think the film provides that much propaganda either, which is always a risk in war movies when the subject is the director’s own country- you can’t help but feel nationalistic I think.
I also like and am surprised by his characterization of Stokrotka (Daisy) in such a strong light. She is one of three (?) women in this film who appear consistently (there’s Halinka and another one), and she is shown to be the equal, if not superior of many of the men. One scene that jumped out was the discovery of the old man’s body, who the boys of the company evidently left to die because they were already exhausted. In fact, the body left behind was discovered by Stokrotka as she continues to half-carry half-drag Jacek through the sewers to freedom. Meanwhile, Halinka kills herself in the sewers when she finds out Madry is already married and has children to live for, not her. The only thing that gives me pause is that both women were mostly motivated by love- but then isn’t most of the film? love of country, love of company/platoon, – love of significant others seems to fit right in.
I have to say, I am a little surprised by how much I liked this film, for all its negativity, bleakness, and death- that is war, after all. But it’s won me over to a director that I thought might be over-hyped.