I’ve always been impressed by the resistance displayed by Polish directors in communist era films such as Kanal. By using imagery, institutions that were important to the Polish people in one way or another are made present. Kanal is a film released in 1956 that is directed by Andrzej Wajda. Intellectualism was a class of people that were wiped out through communist rule by arrests and murder in Eastern Europe. They were not seen as people who could produce something of value. We must note that this was following the Soviet criteria of what they perceive to be of economic value. The intellectuals held society together through the institutions of government and authority. By taking away the demographic knowledgeable on self governance, any form of resistance would not be able to count on this experience. The Soviets were calculating in getting rid of authority figures because it adds future hardship to any resistance. A resistance without the means to govern becomes disorganized. In Kanal we hear a soldier reciting poetry as he makes his way through the underground tunnels. There’s also a scene where an explanation is given as to why matches weren’t lighting up underground. We see the scholarly topics of literature and chemistry being discussed. I like to think these scenes are a nod to the importance of intellectualism in any society.
Another thing I noticed is that when the platoon traveled from the initial point of gathering and then went through a portion of the battleground, helmets on crosses were seen in the background. These crosses could possibly be a charm of sorts to the platoon from a higher power. They can also be another act of resistance, because religion was not something that the Soviets wanted to greatly influence the people. Catholicism was a huge pillar of the Polish people. Religion fosters a form of community that tends to be family focused. We see this when permission to make a telephone call is granted for the pianist to inquire the safety of his family. If we take the three pillars as a form of movement towards the bringing together of people, we see that they served to unite a nation.
I will be writing Part 2 of my analysis and thoughts on Kanal before the end of the month. It will be posted upon completion.