Katyn

"Very Good"

Katyn Review


Directed by perhaps the most prolific of Polish directors from a story that is surpassingly personal, Andrzej Wajda opens Katyn, his depiction of the events surrounding the 1940 massacre of 20,000 Polish officers and intellectuals by the Bolsheviks and the ensuing cover-up, with a moment of startling consternation. A mass of huddled Polish citizens crosses a bridge, fleeing the closing grip of the Wehrmacht, only to be met with fellow countrymen running in panic from the Red Army, which is advancing in the opposite direction.

The image has been in Wajda's head for years but it only found its way onto the screen 50 years after A Generation, the director's debut. Nevertheless, the story of the Katyn Forest massacre is in the director's DNA: His father, Jakub, was a cavalry officer who met his end there at the age of 40. The atrocity of the act, carried out by the Russian secret police, doesn't come to bloom until the film's final moments, but Wajda's aim extends far beyond just the harrowing tragedy itself.

Of the many threads which Wajda weaves, the most prominent involves Anna (Maja Ostaszewska), the wife of an army captain among the first to board the trains and Black Marias towards Katyn. Resolute in her faithfulness, she refuses a marital proposal from a kind Russian officer and finds her way to Krakow to wait for word on her husband with her daughter and mother-in-law. In the opening scene, Anna is pulled aside by a friend, the wife of a general, in a chauffeured car, who pleads for her to run away from the Red Army. Later, they will be in the same straights, helplessly awaiting the news of the fate of their husbands.

Though certainly not Wajda's strongest film, Katyn is perhaps his most affecting since his 1970s to '80s heyday. Immediately after the discovery of the 20,000 bodies in Katyn, the slaughter was dressed as a crime of the Nazis. The Bolsheviks' implicit guilt wouldn't be revealed until 1990: Under Stalin's police state, even the slightest insinuation of the NKVD's hand in the massacre was cause for imprisonment or execution. Wajda evokes this through scenes of Polish youth still addled by their captive state: The searing, infuriating last quarter of the film involves Anna's doomed nephew and a pair of sisters unable to find the proper way to mourn their brother, leading to a broken tombstone of the fallen soldier, Wajda's most blatant metaphorical excursion.

Though he never gets personal enough to break the conventions of the war genre, Wajda breeds a profound and scolding pain in Katyn that stirs and throbs thunderously in one's chest. Unlike his fellow cinematic countrymen (Polanski, Kieslowski, Skolimowski), Wajda's filmmaking has found him less a poet and more a proficient, brilliant chronicler of the myths, mysteries, and milestones of a country that has only been allowed to come out of the shade in the last few decades. The stories being told in Katyn are both those of a culture not free of its own past and of a filmmaker still unable to grasp how deeply his history has affected him.



Katyn

Facts and Figures

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st September 2007

Budget: $5.2M

Distributed by: Artificial Eye

Production compaines: Akson Studio, TVP S.A.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 60 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Michal Kwiecinski

Starring: as Andrzej, as Anna, as Lt. Jerzy, as Roza

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.