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A Generation
Directed by Andrzej Wajda
Written by Bohdan Czeszko
Starring Tadeusz Łomnicki
Urszula Modrzyńska
Roman Polanski
Release date(s) January 25, 1955
Running time 83 minutes
Country Poland
Language Polish

A Generation (Polish: Pokolenie) is a 1955 Polish film directed by Andrzej Wajda. It is based on the novel Pokolenie by Bohdan Czeszko, who also wrote the script, and it was Wajda's first film and the opening installment of what became his Three War Films trilogy set in the Second World War, completed by Kanal and Ashes and Diamonds.



A Generation is set in Wola, a working-class section of Warsaw, in 1942 and tells the stories of two young men at odds with the Nazi occupation of Poland. The young protagonist, Stach (Tadeusz Lomnicki), is living in squalor on the outskirts of the city and carrying out wayward acts of theft and rebellion. After a friend is killed attempting to heist coal from a German supply train, he finds work as an apprentice at a workshop, where he becomes involved in an underground communist resistance cell guided first by friendly journeyman there who in turn introduces Stach to the beautiful Dorota (Urszula Modrzynska). An outsider, Jasio Krone (Tadeusz Janczar), the temperamental son of an elderly veteran, is initially reluctant to join the struggle but finally commits himself, running relief operations in the Jewish ghetto during the uprising there.



Because blanks at the time did not provide recoil, all shots of automatic weapons were done with live ammunition shot into sandbags off screen.[1]


On its face, the film is a coming-of-age story of survival and shattering loss, delivering a brutal portrait of the human cost of war. But as with all of Wajda's films, Polish history and the individual's struggle in the face of crushing political circumstances are just below the surface. In A Generation, as in Ashes and Diamonds, the conflict between the communists and the nationalist Home Army, each representing a diametrically opposed view of Poland's future, are set on a collision course. For Stach, his work for the resistance is part of a larger class war and the struggle for communism.


A box set of the Three War Films was released by The Criterion Collection. A Generation includes an exclusive interview with the director and film critic Jerzy Płażewski, Wajda's 1951 film school short Ceramics from Iłża (Ceramika Iłżecka), production photos, publicity stills, posters, and original artwork by the director and an essay by film scholar Ewa Mazierska.


  1. ^ On Becoming a Filmmaker interview with Andrzej Wajda included with Criterion release of A Generation

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