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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up there with its hands in the air
Not exactly restored, the "Arrow" version cracks, pops and snaps like anything on vinyl from this age. However there are a number of version of this film that have been released and for those who want something more pure and have a region free DVD then the Criterion version offers the three Wadja films fully restored.

For me, the grainy, spoilt...
Published on 30 July 2012 by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles

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1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Very disappointing that there are no subtitles on the film, this was not indicated at time of purchase.
Published 5 months ago by Elaine


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up there with its hands in the air, 30 July 2012
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Kanal (Canal) [Region 2] [import] (DVD)
Not exactly restored, the "Arrow" version cracks, pops and snaps like anything on vinyl from this age. However there are a number of version of this film that have been released and for those who want something more pure and have a region free DVD then the Criterion version offers the three Wadja films fully restored.

For me, the grainy, spoilt appearance, provided it with a cache of "charm," because this word describes something that has been captured on celluloid - which is anything charming. It begins as a "normal" war film, the multiples beamed across the 1950's and 60's screens in the UK, to provide a social meaning to the huge bereavement loss and the mass blood letting. Here it depicts the heroic Polish few standing up to the many, also true in this case, as it was in many others. Poland was near enough obliterated after 1939 with both the Nazis and Soviets carving up the country and then the culling of the population was undertaken in earnest.

As it grooved a well worn plot of annihilation and redemption, the film suddenly drops a few levels to descend into a modern hell; the egg sewer smell almost wafts through the screen as the men and women wander through the labyrinths of their subconscious, where demons jump out and paralyse them within various fissures of hallucination. It depicts the sheer debilitating weight of being caught within the pincers of death and an attempt to liberate the spirit from being crushed. Meanwhile all sense of hope gradually flickers within the shadows of an impending doom.

Having seen a number of Eastern European films about WW2, they all share a similar nihilistic vision of war, as a blast into another emotional dimension of the psyche, something completely missing from Western dramas. Perhaps "All Quiet on the Western Front," was the harbinger of this form of cinema. If it was, then the East has made this into a special emotionally literate version where it moves beyond feeling victorious to feeling the omnipresent sense of dread at being suffocated.

Taking the Warsaw uprising to its zenith, the film just highlights how young people adapted to the nihilism that scattered, and then enclosed them, as they tried to make sense of the world around which was crumbling into dust. Along with this was the shattering of all certainties, beliefs and a sense you would be in existence tomorrow. It is utterly bleak, relentless and brutal, but also as the film attests, a tribute to a camaraderie which bound people together within this quest to find a meaning before they were snuffed.

Although the film stock has not aged well in this version "Arrow", the plot hiding beneath it has grown in stature because it speaks across the eons and cultures to say something about how life should be lived in the here and now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A descent into the heart of darkness... Andrzej Wajda's Opus Magnum and also one of GREATEST war movies EVER!, 16 May 2014
By 
Maciej "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Kanal (Canal) [Region 2] [import] (DVD)
This old 1956 black and white Polish war film, with actors nobody ever saw in anything outside Poland, is nevertheless an absolute masterpiece and one of greatest movies I ever saw. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

The film begins on 25 September 1944 - it is the 56th day of Warsaw Uprising which lasted from 1 August to 2 October 1944. This uprising of Polish Home Army was defeated by German troops, with the intense fighting and the massacres carried by the SS causing the death of no less than 10 000 armed insurgents and possibly as much as 200 000 Polish civilians (this event is sadly frequently mistaken in the West with the earlier Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943).

In the opening scenes Lieutenant "Zadra" (Wienczyslaw Glinski) and his second in command, Lieutenant "Madry" (Emil Karewicz), lead a unit of 42 Home Army soldiers (and also one civilian) to a new position amidst the ruins of the Mokotów district of Warsaw. This unit used to be a company - but now is hardly more than a platoon. Amongst the most important characters are dashing young Ensign "Korab" (Tadeusz Janczar), middle-aged Company Master Sergeant "Kula" (Tadeusz Gwiazdowski), handsome and fearless Private "Smukly" (Stanislaw Mikulski) and a particularly tough (but very attractive) woman-soldier, Private "Stokrotka" (Teresa Izewska). We never learn their real names, as in Home Army soldiers served under assumed identities, to protect their families from German reprisals. The meaning of their code names are as follows:

"Zadra" - Shard
"Madry" - Wise
"Korab" - literally this is an old word for "ship", but it is also the name of a prestigious coat-of-arms of some of Polish nobility
"Kula" - Bullet
"Smukly" - Slender
"Stokrotka" - Daisy

Everybody is worn down and exhausted by 56 days of fighting and amunition is scarce - especially there is only one projectile left for the unique PIAT (Projector Infantry Anti Tank) they have. A German attack inevitably occurs, supported first by a tank and then by a weapon even more feared by the insurgents - a "Goliath" robot. This is, I believe, the BEST scene ever showing this particular, VERY REAL German weapon, indeed massively used against Warsaw Uprising. Butcher bill is very heavy... In the evening, remaining soldiers are ordered to evacuate by the only way available, as Germans encircled the whole district - the sewers!

All of that is just one third of the film. What follows is one of the most powerful, most dramatic, most heart-breaking and most incredible war time travels into the heart of darkness ever put on the screen. Those horrible retreats through the sewers were a very real thing during Warsaw Uprising and as the scenario was written by one of Home Army veterans and a genuine survivor of those events, who actually really went through that underground ordeal, the description is very realistic, detailed and spares the viewer nothing.

A useful PRECISION here - this being a 1956 film, the "yuckie factor" which can be expected to be omnipresent in overflown sewers of a war time city, is actually kept to the strict minimum - some vague dark spots can be seen on clothes or faces but VERY WISELY the director didn't insist on that particular aspect...

The retreat through the sewers is obviously an allegory of descent into the hells and indeed we can almost see Dante's famous inscription over the access to this undeground realm of darkness and death "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here...". Finding the way out of this place is not easy, as many exits are being watched by Germans, some were purposefully collapsed and blocked by rubble - and many others are booby trapped...

Smoke grenades, tear gas and irritating fumes (obtained by throwing calcium carbide in water) are used by Germans to make the air in the sewers toxic - and cause the retreating soldiers and civilian to panic... Madness, shell shock and terminal exhaustion overtake some people already worn down by 56 days of continuous fighting and omnipresent death. This ordeal is already almost unbearable to those who are still in good shape - but it is even worse for the wounded! And finally, as in all self-respecting hell, past sins come to catch up with the characters - BIG TIME!

This is an amazing, incredibly powerful war film, which will break your heart in a million pieces every five minutes or so - and the deeply moving, symbolic, beautiful ending can simply not be described by any words! This film is an ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE, to buy, watch and keep. You will not enjoy it - but you will NEVER forget it!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wajda's Powerfully Fatalistic Tale, 22 Mar. 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kanal (Canal) [Region 2] [import] (DVD)
Andrzej Wajda's second instalment in his war trilogy is set during the Warsaw uprising (in 1944) and tells a brilliantly powerful and compelling tale of the attempts of a group of resistance fighters to evade their Nazi adversaries by seeking a route to (supposed) safety in the centre of Warsaw through the city's underground sewers (the 'canal' of the film's title). That Wajda's tale is destined to be a fatalistic one is foretold by the film's voiceover narrator, as the film's main protagonists ('43 instead of 70'), led by Lieutenant Zadra (Wienczyslaw Glinski), are shown in cinematographer Jerzy Lipman's superb extended tracking shot trudging through the war-torn, rubble-strewn landscape of the Polish capital.

The film's sense of fatalistic realism is brilliantly encapsulated by the performance of Glinski as the pessimistic Zadra, who on hearing his fellow officer's resigned, 'anyway, we must fight on', responds with, 'spoken like a Pole'. Zadra's sense of duty and honour, however, prevents him from outward shows of his pessimism to his 'lads', to whom he maintains a facade of positivism. Wajda brings a degree of (light) relief from the sombre mood (early on in the film) by the inclusion of artist and musician Michal (Vladek Sheybal), and the romantic threads centred around Halinka (Teresa Berezowska), the female liaison officer and the sensuous glamour of Teresa Izewska's Stokrotka ('Daisy'), whose mercurial relationship with the jealous and vain Korab (the excellent Tadeusz Janczar) forms one of the cornerstones of Kanal.

The film is very much a work of two halves - the first of which sets up the resistance group's internal relationships and dynamics, and the second tracks their perilous journey through the sewers. It is this second part of the film that, for me, transforms Kanal from being just a good film into an outstanding one. Wajda (and Lipman) have created a totally convincing, dark and claustrophobic atmosphere, slowly ratcheting up the sense of foreboding and tension (all exacerbated by Jan Krenz's eerie score) as the increasingly desperate group of fighters gradually become more and more paranoid and maniacal - as depicted in the brilliant scene in which Michal recites lines from Dante's Inferno. Similarly, the extended period of solitude and isolation elicits feelings of past guilt and remorse, as wounded Korab and Daisy, now separated from the main group, struggle to extricate themselves from their state of incarceration.

This sense of desperation and increasing audience tension actually brought to my mind Henri-Georges Clouzot's superb The Wages Of Fear, and the similarity was reinforced by the excellent scene towards the end of Kanal with the grenade booby-trap (as compared with the nitroglycerin in Clouzot's film). My final reflection on Kanal is that its almost exclusively fatalistic outlook is something that I would doubt Hollywood could ever replicate and, for me, Wajda's film is all the more powerful for it.
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1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, 25 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Kanal (Canal) [Region 2] [import] (DVD)
Very disappointing that there are no subtitles on the film, this was not indicated at time of purchase.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Historic account of Warsaw uprising, 24 July 2015
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This review is from: Kanal (Amazon Instant Video)
Great film. Very historic and patriotic! Polish people will not forget the bravery these people took!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I quite liked the film - the sewers were an effective way ..., 6 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Kanal (Amazon Instant Video)
I quite liked the film - the sewers were an effective way of portraying the hardship of war and it certainly conjured imagery of hell for me, particularly the part at the beginning of the film when the soldiers are trying to climb out and the artist mentions a quote from Dante. Poetic nature to the film throughout which I liked. The grimness of war is portrayed well throughout. Not too long. Worth watching especially if you like war films and European cinema.
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Kanal (Canal) [Region 2] [import]
Kanal (Canal) [Region 2] [import] by Andrzej Wajda (DVD)
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