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Kanal [VHS] (1957)

Teresa Izewska , Tadeusz Janczar , Andrzej Wajda  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Teresa Izewska, Tadeusz Janczar, Wienczyslaw Glinski, Tadeusz Gwiazdowski, Stanislaw Mikulski
  • Directors: Andrzej Wajda
  • Writers: Jerzy Stefan Stawinski
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German, Polish
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Homevision
  • VHS Release Date: June 13, 2000
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303031382
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,978 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

The central film of Wajda's war trilogy follows Resistance fighters as they descend into Warsaw's sewer system (or kanaly) to escape the Nazis. Based on actual events during the Warsaw uprising in 1944, "this hallucinating picture is a heartfelt reenactment, taut and penetrating" (Variety).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Polish way.... February 28, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
An indescribably wrenching war tragedy depicting the destruction of a group of freedom fighters in the ruins of Warsaw in the last year of WW II.
A year after the Warsaw ghetto is crushed, the Polish resistance, learning that Soviet armies are approaching the city and that the allies have landed in Normandy, order the long-awaited uprising against the Nazis. The battle goes on for 63 days while Stalin halts his army in the suburbs to allow the SS to systematically eliminate the last Polish patriots.
The film depicts the last few days of the uprising. Wajda introduces the varied men and women who make up one resistance group - their ambitions, their loves, their individuality, their vitality, in a context of extreme stress. After a heroic defense of their district, the survivors are ordered into the sewers - the 'Kanal' - to escape the pocket in which they've become trapped. Their captain knows they are doomed yet hopes to save at least the company records for posterity. Before descending, he stoically shares a last cigarette with another group leader. 'You know this fight is pointless, don't you?' 'Yeah... it's the Polish way.'
The second half of the film depicts their final trial of courage in the sewers - where a subterranean Passion and an anonymous Golgotha awaits them.
As the fighters, one by one, slip into a manhole behind a street barricade, they leave behind the rear guard - a twelve year old boy wearing boots way too big for him who cooly checks his rifle in preparation for his solitary defense of this last barrier. Beyond the pile of bricks and furniture a Tiger tank lurches inexorably forward like a threshing machine.
This film manages to scorch a lasting hole in one's soul.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I first saw this movie 30 years ago--and feared looking at the video because I though it might not be as great as I remembered it. It's even better. Powerful tales of how peoplel change, for better or worse, under great adversity. Though many of the people come to bleak ends, the movie is not depressing or blackhearted. It's greatest moral lesson, for me, is that courage must be coupled with wide-eyed realism and stamina when the odds are against you. The image that has stayed with me for 30 years: the woman helping the wounded, feverish man through the sewer who reminds him that he's walking through shit and to keep on going when he begins to hallucinate about how beautiful things are.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Striking Film August 30, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Kanal focuses on a small group of Polish resistance fighters during the Warsaw uprising of 1944. Intended to last for a few days and to enable the Soviet Army to enter Warsaw, the uprising lasted for weeks while the Red Army did little to assist the Poles and was eventually crushed by the Germans. This film is based on an actual episode of the uprising, the escape from encirclement of a significant number of resistance fighters by fleeing through the sewers of Warsaw. Wajda follows a company of fighters into the sewers and explores their disparate fates. In Wajda's hands, this episode becomes a metaphor for the whole Polish experience in WWII; brutal, valiant, deadly, profoundly humiliating but characterized by an unceasing pursuit of hope. With fine cinematography and excellent acting, this is a gripping film.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the giants war films in any age! August 20, 2004
Kanal is a grim , sad and powerful drama of Polish patriots who use the servers of Warsaw in an attempt to escape from the Nazis during the uprising of 1944 .

In the middle of this unbeatable tragedy you can watch different voices and attitudes . The somber pianist playing Chopin , and other characters literally struggled for this opressive atmosphere . Wajda made his masterpiece , unrelieved in intensity and fierce .

A thousand carats gem . Disturbing and haunting work of the polish cinema .
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crawling through the sewers seeking freedom November 24, 2003
Although the film is depressing, it is worth watching. One gains an idea of the conditions of Poland during the war and how the Poles tried to fight back against overwhelming odds. The film itself is very dark, with much of it taking place in the sewers.
In this film, a band of Polish soldiers is ordered to retreat through the sewers. Giving up their holding is disappointing to the men, but they have little choice because they lack the weapons and reinforcements to hold their position any longer. The sewers are a maze in which the soldiers try to find their way to freedom.
"Kanal" (1957) is directed by Andrzej Wajda. This Polish film is in black-and-white, 96 minutes long, and has optional English subtitles.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars possibly greatest war film ever July 28, 2006
By reader
I think Andrzej Wajda is overrated (personally, I think Kazimierz Kutz is the best among contemporary Polish directors), but for my money this is the best war film ever made. Perhaps the reason is that the camera work was done by Kutz (spelled "Kuc" in the credits), as (at least according to the story I've heard) Wajda was too delicate to actually go down in the sewers (yes, the excrement spattered on the faces of the actors is real; those are real sewers). The despair portrayed as each of these young people moves toward his or her inevitable death is relentless (though the film almost never depicts the actual moment of death), and the fact that we are told in the very first moments of the film what fate awaits them certainly does not spoil the effect. In an era when propagandistic cliches about the Germans were practically de rigueur in Polish cinema, the artistry of the film is demonstrated in one of the final scenes, when a young man emerges from the sewer and is disarmed by a German soldier; the soldier does not scream or behave like a brute, but instead behaves in as calm and civilized a manner as if he were simply taking a prisoner of war in accordance with the rules of the Geneva Convention. (In fact, according to what I've read about what happened after the Warsaw Uprising was finally crushed, when the Polish soldiers were disarmed they were indeed often treated with respect and sometimes even saluted by the German soldiers.) The final scene is possibly the most chilling of all, as one officer, having endured the ordeal of the journey through the city's sewers but learning that some young fighters have been left behind (and are almost certainly already dead), goes back down into the sewers to find them, pulling the manhole cover back over his head ...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good, very pleased.
Published 2 months ago by Kojakone
5.0 out of 5 stars A descent into the heart of darkness... Andrzej Wajda's Opus Magnum...
This old 1956 black and white film, with actors nobody ever saw in anything outside Poland, is nevertheless an absolute masterpiece and one of greatest films I ever saw. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Darth Maciek
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Film, Terrible DVD Conversion.
This is a great movie, but the Polart Distribution conversion from the VHS to DVD sucks. half the movie is too dark to see, and the sound is greatly reduced. Read more
Published 11 months ago by M.Kester
This is another good historical film by Wajda which contains the same sort of realism as in his other films such as Ashes and Diamonds. Read more
Published 13 months ago by The Curmudgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful service
Great job. You do an excellent job of getting your product out on time and in great shape. It was a real pleasure doing business with you.
Published 17 months ago by Dennis C.
2.0 out of 5 stars Kanal
Kanal fascinates me as one of the best war movies ever made. Each character shares a tragic story of bravery, cowardice, betrayal, and sacrifice. Read more
Published on October 18, 2012 by shawnmartin
4.0 out of 5 stars Doing it "The Polish Way"
"Kanal' is a 1956 black and white Polish film (with subtitles) about the Warsaw Uprising. The "Warsaw Uprising" refers to a 2 month struggle by the Polish resistance movement to... Read more
Published on May 24, 2011 by Dr. James Gardner
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful second act
The Bottom Line:

Wajda's classic war film takes a little bit of a while to really get interesting (the battle scenes above ground/character development we see occurring... Read more
Published on December 31, 2009 by One-Line Film Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Last Days of Warsaw Resistance.
Andrzej Wajda is one of the best Pole filmmaker.
He has delivered more than 50 movies, many of them multi-awarded and with critic's acclaim. Read more
Published on October 5, 2009 by Maximiliano F Yofre
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the Subterranean Component of the Foredoomed and Betrayed...
I first saw Wajda's classic film while visiting Poland decades ago. Intended for an informed Polish audience, it doesn't provide much historical context. Read more
Published on August 9, 2007 by Jan Peczkis
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