52 user 71 critic

Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

Popiól i diament (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, War | 29 May 1961 (USA)
As WWII and the German occupation ends, the Polish resistance and the Russian forces turn on each other in an attempt to take over leadership in Communist Poland.


Andrzej Wajda


Jerzy Andrzejewski (novel), Jerzy Andrzejewski (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Zbigniew Cybulski ... Maciek Chelmicki
Ewa Krzyzewska ... Krystyna
Waclaw Zastrzezynski ... Szczuka
Adam Pawlikowski ... Andrzej
Bogumil Kobiela ... Drewnowski
Jan Ciecierski ... Portier
Stanislaw Milski ... Pieniazek
Artur Mlodnicki ... Kotowicz
Halina Kwiatkowska ... Staniewiczowa
Ignacy Machowski ... Waga
Zbigniew Skowronski ... Slomka
Barbara Krafftówna ... Stefka (as Barbara Kraftówna)
Aleksander Sewruk ... Swiecki
Zofia Czerwinska ... Barmaid Lili (as Z. Czerwinska)
Wiktor Grotowicz ... Franek Pawlicki (as W. Grotowicz)


Maciek, a young Resistance fighter, is ordered to kill Szczuka, a Communist district leader, on the last day of World War II. Though killing has been easy for him in the past, Szczuka was a fellow soldier, and Maciek must decide whether to follow his orders. Written by Kevin Dorner <mrkevvy@pathcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Drama of Political Assassination See more »


Drama | Romance | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The entire film takes place over two days, May 8th and 9th 1945. See more »


Glasses of vodka are set alight which burn for an unnaturally long length of time and with a bigger flame than expected, suggesting a purer fuel was used in the film, such as petrol. Moreover, when the final flame dies (c.41 minutes) no liquid remains in the glass. Only the alcohol content is flammable in any glass of spirit and a residue of water would be left behind with even the very strongest of Polish vodkas. See more »


Krystyna: Look. An old crypt. An inscription. "So often are you as a blazing torch with flames of burning hemp falling about you flaming, you know not if the flames bring freedom or death, consuming all that you most cherish. Will only ashes remain, and chaos whirling into the void." The letters are blurred. I can't read it.
Maciek Chelmicki: It's by Norwid. "Or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike diamond, the Morning Star of everlasting triumph."
Krystyna: That's beautiful. "Or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike ...
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Referenced in Tatarak (2009) See more »


Czerwone maki
(Red Poppies) (uncredited)
Music by Alfred Schütz and lyrics by Feliks Konarski
Performed by Grazyna Staniszewska
See more »

User Reviews

" ...or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike diamond..."
11 February 2017 | by elvircorhodzicSee all my reviews

ASHES AND DIAMONDS is a war drama, which describes, in a realistic way, the situation in a small town in Poland on the last day of World War II. The film was based on the 1948 novel by Polish writer Jerzy Andrzejewski.Inhabitants of a provincial town are trying to adjust to peacetime life. However, the conflict between the new communist government and members of the war resistance is inevitable. A young war veteran, who has joined the resistance, has received an order to assassinate a communist official. His enthusiasm for the task starts to weaken, when he meets a young girl and falls in love ....

Mr. Wajda has artfully presented symbols of the ruined country and lost youth in the war. These symbols are visible in almost every scene. Glasses of brandy on fire, love in ruins, a vulgar feast, Polonaise in false, a bloody sheet and a young man who dies in spasmodic twitches at the dump are just some of them. The faces of the protagonists are colored with uncertainty. The story, which is tense, cynical, melancholic and shocking, is accompanied by vivid images of lost people and dilapidated buildings.

Characterization is very good and it is reflected through greed, self-satisfaction, consistency, serenity and compassion.

Zbigniew Cybulski as Maciek is a certain version of James Dean. He is an appealing and sensible young man, who is on the verge of despair. He insights tranquility and love, and yet, his life is only one segment in a nasty political rut. Ewa Krzyżewska as Krystyna is a hotel barmaid. She is perhaps too polite and somewhat insecure in love.

War and political psychology rarely accept ordinary life questions.

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Release Date:

29 May 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ashes and Diamonds See more »

Filming Locations:

Wroclaw, Dolnoslaskie, Poland See more »


Box Office


PLN6,070,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Studio Filmowe Kadr See more »
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Technical Specs


| (original: 108')

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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