Kanal (Canal) (They Loved Life) (1961) - Rotten Tomatoes

Kanal (Canal) (They Loved Life) (1961)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Kanal (Canal) (They Loved Life) Photos

Movie Info

The second of Polish director Andrzej Wajda's WWII trilogy, following Pokolenie (A Generation) and preceding Popiol I diament (Ashes and Diamonds), Kanal is the most physically harrowing of the set. Based on the experiences of Jerzy Stefan Stawinski, a Polish patriot who participated in the battle for Warsaw in 1939 as an 18-year-old and in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, the action takes place in the last week of the 63-day Uprising, as the Nazis hunt down what few freedom fighters remain. A band of Poles takes to the sewers in hopes of escaping, but they become disoriented by the darkness and the fumes of the waist-deep filth. Whenever the Poles try to emerge for orientation or relief, the Germans are there to greet them with a hail of bullets. Kanal was Wajda's coming-out film; it won two prizes at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival and clicked with both European and American audiences, in spite of its grueling story and pessimistic tone. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi


Critic Reviews for Kanal (Canal) (They Loved Life)

All Critics (6)

Flames up above and smoky streams below, the inverted Hades of occupied Warsaw

Full Review… | June 23, 2014

Wajda's second movie, set in Warsaw in 1944, is politically significant and emotionally stirring

Full Review… | April 5, 2011

may very well be Wajda's finest film

April 11, 2005

A picture of considerable worth.

Full Review… | January 29, 2004
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Despair dominates here and once he gets down and dirty in the sewers, Wajda makes no concessions toward his audience in lessening the severity of his vision, for better or worse.

Full Review… | January 4, 2003

Audience Reviews for Kanal (Canal) (They Loved Life)


While most of Kanal has an emphasis with audio and dark shadows in a tunnel comes off as surreal and lucid and a flip to how it starts off as a traditional war film. The film making techniques were ahead of the crop and unique. You cared about the characters and their safety.

Rodney Eckrich
Rodney Eckrich

[font=Century Gothic]"Kanal" starts at the end. [/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]In this case, it is towards the end of the Warsaw Uprising on the 56th day on September 26, 1944. Lieutenant Zadra(Wienczyslaw Glinski) leads his ragtag resistance group(A narrator tells us that these are the last hours for these brave people.) that is now at 43, down from 70 just a short time before, whose latest recruit is a music composer(Wladyslaw Sheybal). After losing a pitched battle at a house, they are ordered to downtown, one of the only neighborhoods not in German hands via the sewers which is a prospect that Zadra dreads.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic][font=Century Gothic]At the beginning of the film, David and Goliath are mentioned but later on in the sewers, Dante is quoted and that is never a good sign. Although, I was reminded of the mythic labyrinth, minotaur included. [/font][/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Expertly directed by Andrzej Wajda, "Kanal" is a harrowing tale not of survival, because by now that is no longer an option.[font=Century Gothic] [/font]Rather, these soldiers continue to fight to buy a little more time for their loved ones. And love is what the movie is about, from lovers who try to make the most of their limited time left to Zadra's love for his soldiers. After all, soldiers everywhere fight to keep their loved ones safe. [/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Part 2 of Wajda's War Trilogy. This film has nothing to do with A Generation except it takes place during WWII. It's about the last days in 1944 of the Warsaw uprising. The Nazi's are closing in and the only way out is through the sewers. The first half hour when they are battling the Nazi's doesn't work. It's Wajda's 2nd film and he still has a problem with action scenes. As a viewer you are confused or just not interested. Then they escape to the Sewers and this film goes from average to great. This is one of the most claustrophobic films I have ever seen. You feel dirty, tired, thirsty, trapped and gasping for air. The actors all shine and become memorable once they enter the Canals. The cinematography and set design in the sewers are gritty and look realistic, only The 3rd Man makes a sewer look better.This would be a easy 4 star film if not for the opening act. Kanal also has one of the best endings I have seen in a long time,perfect!

cody franklin
cody franklin

Super Reviewer

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