This film follows a company of resistance fighters who have been backed into a corner during the Warsaw Uprising of WWII. They have no real hope of continuing the fight and decide to retreat to the sewers. Instead of being an escape route, the sewers are more like an inescapable labyrinth designed to drive you crazy until you come up or die.
The beauty of the film is in the way director Andrzej Wajda presents us with a company of proud and hearty resistance fighters then lets us watch them descend into shit–literally and metaphorically. We start in the open streets and watch the walls go up and move in closer and closer. The lighting also gets darker and darker, which does mean you a need decent print in order to enjoy the film. That’s the reason I am not posting any screenshots. The version I have to take screenshots from is no good and you would see almost nothing but black.
The film is the second in a trilogy by Wajda about Polish resistance during WWII. While Ashes And Diamonds has the Polish James Dean and A Generation is reminiscent of De Sica and the Gorky trilogy, I think this is the best of the three. Ultimately, it’s the ending that makes it all work as well as it does. Without stating the ending explicitly, think of The Great Escape and Das Boot.
I highly recommend it.