Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Criterion on Hulu: Kanal (1956)

Kanal movie poster
Kanal (1956) – Directed by Andrzej Wajda; Written by Stefan Stawinski; Cinematography by Jerzy Lipman; Starring Teresa Izewska, Tadeusz Janczar, Vladek Sheybal, Emil Kariewicz and Wienczylaw Glinski.

By Kenny Howell

If you have never suffered from claustrophobia, you will while viewing this under seen Andrzej Wajda.

It is set in the last days of the Warsaw uprising. A lieutenant is ordered to retreat from the German offensive by going into the sewer system to escape. He leads a group of men and women into the sewers and what follows is a harrowing trip into, well, hell. The characters faces are dripped in sweat and fear, and the system of tunnels seems to lead to no escape. They are trapped in a world that is being destroyed by war, and their only escape doesn't seem like an escape at all. 

Wajda really does hammer home this world with uncomfortable camera work, and focusing on harrowed expressions throughout. It is a bit abrasive, but purposefully and perfectly so.

Not talked about quite as much as other great foreign films, but this is an astonishing one that is hard to forget. You can watch Kanal on Hulu as a part of the Criterion collection.

Rating: ****

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