Georges Danton, the titular Parisian political firebrand who was put under the blade in April 1794, is played here by the incomparable Gérard Depardieu, and it may very well be one of the mighty, imposing actor's best performances. Danton returns to Paris to decry the Reign of Terror that, under the hand of the Revolution, had claimed countless lives and allowed the Committees to continue to do what they want without bowing to scrutiny or criticism. Instead, rather quickly, the one-time revolutionist was jailed along with several other politicians and accused of trying to bring down the Revolution.
Continue reading: Danton Review
The image has been in Wajda's head for years but it only found its way onto the screen 50 years after A Generation, the director's debut. Nevertheless, the story of the Katyn Forest massacre is in the director's DNA: His father, Jakub, was a cavalry officer who met his end there at the age of 40. The atrocity of the act, carried out by the Russian secret police, doesn't come to bloom until the film's final moments, but Wajda's aim extends far beyond just the harrowing tragedy itself.
Continue reading: Katyn Review
Wajda may very well have produced his finest film ever in 1957 with Kanal (literally "Canal"), about the dying days of the two-month long Polish resistance against the Germans in late 1944 (though the setting is real, the story itself appears completely fictional). The film begins with the usual sparring in the ghetto, as Nazis are killed by guerrillas then hunted down by an endless flood of soldiers behind them. Eventually the war is lost (and a narrator intones mournfully that we're witnessing a tragedy right at the beginning, so I'm not spoiling anything) and the remaining few dozen survivors reluctantly enter the sewers of Warsaw to try and escape to a liberated part of town.
Continue reading: Kanal Review