Katyn (15)

Film

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jun 16 2009

Polish veteran Andrzej Wajda tackles an event close to his – and his country’s – heart in ‘Katyn’, a poignant drama that traces the lasting effects of a national tragedy, the memory of which started to warp almost as soon as it happened.

Wajda’s father was among more than 20,000 Polish officers murdered by Soviet troops in 1940, many of them buried in the Katyn forest. In this fictional take on that tragedy, Wajda places special focus on the influence of malevolent politics on the impossibility of any resolution for the victims’ families. As we learn, sometimes through excellent use of archive footage, when the soldiers’ bodies were first discovered in 1943, the Soviets blamed the Nazis; then, when Poland fell under the USSR’s influence after 1945, any attempt to blame the Soviets was so strictly outlawed that, as we see, any mention even on a gravestone of the correct date of the massacre was brutally punished.

Wajda reflects this fog of truth in the story of Anna, the wife of a Polish officer who knows her husband is a Soviet POW, but who, even after a list of the dead is released in 1943, does not know whether or not he died at Katyn. Although Wajda introduces several other women, young and old, each closely affected by Katyn, it’s the story of Anna and her husband which offers a backbone to the film, along with intermittent, reverent and serene scenes of the POWs, whose grim fate Wajda reserves for the film’s final chapter. But some other characters, although instructive, feel like misplaced footnotes.

The principal success of Wajda’s stately, widescreen and exquisitely shot film lies in its sober attempt to mirror the fragmented truth of a genocide. For half a century, the perception of  Katyn was clouded by ideology: it was a distortion whose ripples were felt at the most intimate of levels. Wajda is excellent at portraying the lingering corruption of this top-down rewriting of history. On the downside, he tries to reflect so many experiences in his time-hopping story that he clouds our view at times.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Jun 19, 2009

Duration:

122 mins

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Suryiel

One of the most touching movie I have ever seen. Because of those crimes there was no one to fight communism in Poland after the war .

Suryiel

One of the most touching movie I have ever seen. Because of those crimes there was no one to fight communism in Poland after the war .

Edy

Brilliant movie, tragedy taken into such a details that it hurts, can not come out of the cinema without tears in your eyes and anger in your heart..

Edy

Brilliant movie, tragedy taken into such a details that it hurts, can not come out of the cinema without tears in your eyes and anger in your heart..

mona lisa

That's the whole point. This movie is so real it is gut-wrenching to watch as opposed to to some Hollywood "schmaltz" World War II depictions. It appears most critics get it. Then again Wajda's movies are not for your average Joe.

mona lisa

That's the whole point. This movie is so real it is gut-wrenching to watch as opposed to to some Hollywood "schmaltz" World War II depictions. It appears most critics get it. Then again Wajda's movies are not for your average Joe.

Nic Niewart

Dark and sombre like the subject matter, this film is by the master Andrzej Wajda. He has the trcak record of the black and white trilogy, Kanal, A Generation, and Ashes and Diamonds. It is a personal statement made on the book POST MORTEM about the whole Katyn episode. Some 15,000 Polish officers were imprisoned by the Russians in 1939, then they disappeared in Spring 1940 in Katyn, a small village near Smolensk, Russia. Upon the invasion of Russia by the Nazis, the graves were uncovered by the Germans who blamed the NKVD, Stalin's secret police. They in turn blamed the Nazis, but plainly the bodies had been there for some years, and everyone knew the Russians had the means, motive and opportunity to carry out this crime. Papers were released under Gorbachev which supported that this was an order by Stalin to liquidate the entire officer corps. One of which was Wajda's father. My own father would also have been there as an officer reservist but was already in the far north in a gulag. But Katyn was only one of many such sites in Russia. As they used to say in those days, one man was shot for taking a picture of a train. Another one was shot because he DIDN'T take a picture of a train. The film juxtaposes two threads: that of the actual crime; and the story of those wives, mothers and children who were left without fathers, and who could not have peace knowing that the post war occupiers of Poland, the Russians, were systemmatically lying about their involvement in the crime of Katyn. Indeed you couldn't even put up a gravestone with the date of death- if it stated 1940, it was a politically treasonable act, blaming the Russians. No one got peace. Well written and produced, well acted, well directed, well photographed. This is a good film in terms of cinema and a film that needed to be made, especially by the Poles, and especially by Wajda. DVDs are available with English subtitles. You have to wait for the main screen to come on- the first screen is a statement for hard of hearing and blind. Just wait then you can access the main menus.

Nic Niewart

Dark and sombre like the subject matter, this film is by the master Andrzej Wajda. He has the trcak record of the black and white trilogy, Kanal, A Generation, and Ashes and Diamonds. It is a personal statement made on the book POST MORTEM about the whole Katyn episode. Some 15,000 Polish officers were imprisoned by the Russians in 1939, then they disappeared in Spring 1940 in Katyn, a small village near Smolensk, Russia. Upon the invasion of Russia by the Nazis, the graves were uncovered by the Germans who blamed the NKVD, Stalin's secret police. They in turn blamed the Nazis, but plainly the bodies had been there for some years, and everyone knew the Russians had the means, motive and opportunity to carry out this crime. Papers were released under Gorbachev which supported that this was an order by Stalin to liquidate the entire officer corps. One of which was Wajda's father. My own father would also have been there as an officer reservist but was already in the far north in a gulag. But Katyn was only one of many such sites in Russia. As they used to say in those days, one man was shot for taking a picture of a train. Another one was shot because he DIDN'T take a picture of a train. The film juxtaposes two threads: that of the actual crime; and the story of those wives, mothers and children who were left without fathers, and who could not have peace knowing that the post war occupiers of Poland, the Russians, were systemmatically lying about their involvement in the crime of Katyn. Indeed you couldn't even put up a gravestone with the date of death- if it stated 1940, it was a politically treasonable act, blaming the Russians. No one got peace. Well written and produced, well acted, well directed, well photographed. This is a good film in terms of cinema and a film that needed to be made, especially by the Poles, and especially by Wajda. DVDs are available with English subtitles. You have to wait for the main screen to come on- the first screen is a statement for hard of hearing and blind. Just wait then you can access the main menus.