|Cybulski as Maciek in the ruined chapel.|
Zbigniew Cybulski (1927-1967) has often been called “the Polish James Dean,” partly because he was the very public face of the hot new Polish art cinema of the late 1950s and early 1960s, partly because (like Dean) he died young, at the age of thirty-nine, in an accident. I was thinking more about the comparison upon rewatching Andrzej Wajda’s masterpiece Ashes and Diamonds (1958) earlier this week, in which Cybulski plays Maciek, a hip, scrappy, embittered soldier of the Polish Underground, tasked by his comrade to assassinate a newly appointed Communist Party secretary on V-E Day (the entire film unfolds over the course of some twenty-four hours, much like Rebel Without a Cause). While he waits for an opportune moment to carry out the assassination, biding his time in the bar of the hotel where his target is attending a victory banquet, Maciek busies himself by making eyes at a pretty barmaid. Together they enjoy one night of happiness, making love and wandering through the ruins of the small Polish town before the appointed time comes, he completes his mission, the sun rises, and he is gunned down in the street.
|Maciek with Krystyna (Ewa Krzyzewska).|
|A touch of farce: looking for the lost bullet.|