Road to the West [Droga na zachód]
Kazimierz Opalinski, Adam Paslikowski, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Teresa Szmigielawna
Poland / Military / War / Drama
Country of Origin:
In this classic Black and white Polish war movie recently released by Polart a moody drama unfolds in a landscape of snow, devastation and taut relationships.
Set during the last days of WWII, an old, retired, railroad worker and his accidental assistant, played by acclaimed actors Kazimierz Opalinski (Man on the Track; Eroica) and Adam Paslikowski (Ashes and Diamonds), guide a train loaded with explosives to the western front.
They travel on through fields of prowling German armies, dangerous deserters and crazed money hungry gangs, whether the territory is real or simply the landscape of the old man's mind is left open to the viewer.
Clearly this is a territory of the mind and like many other Polish movies of the period is rich in allegory and its subtle symbolism is brought elegantly to life by veteran director Bohdan Poreba, known for his historical epics of Polands past. Characters mysteriously disappear but Walczak, the old engineer, drives ever onward like the pace of time itself. Although oblique parallels could be drawn with Hemingway, Runaway Train, and most intriguingly Wages of Fear (later remade as Sorceror by William “Exorcist” Friedkin), but this would be to diminish this unique film.
There are precious few films available in the West that tell the tales of the war from other perspectives, and gems such as this are to be treasured. Lovers of classic War cinema such as The Cruel Sea through to art-house fare like Primo Levi's The Truce, both with different painful journey's of discovery will enjoy this film.