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IMDB Rating: 7.0/10 from votes
Release: 21 September 2007 (Poland) /

Genre: Drama, History, War
Director: Andrzej Mularczyk,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: When the Soviet Union on 17 September 1939 invades Poland, Anna Aleksandrowna leaves her home in Krakow to search for her husband, the Polish captain Andrzej. She finds him together with other officers captured by the Red Army, but some minutes later he is pushed into a train, which will take all the Polish officers to a prison camp in Kozelsk in Russia. Anna and her daughter Nika is now stuck in the Soviet occupied zone, unable to go back to Krakow in the German zone, not until a brave Russian captain helps them to flee. 3 April 1940 Andrzej is transported from the prison camp in Kozelsk to the Katyn Forest, where thousands of Polish officers are killed. In 1943 the Germans capture this area and find the mass graves. 13 April 1943 they start announcing the names of the identified corpses through loudspeakers in Krakow. Anna is happy that Andrzej is not in any of the Katyn lists, which gives her some hope. 18 January 1945 the Red Army liberates Krakow from the Nazis. The Russians ... Written by Maths Jesperson [email protected]}

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Critic Reviews


Are there words to express suffering, injustice, hypocrisy of war? May empathy ease the pain of those who lost hope for a better world?

There are many movies on WWII that appear to be more or less captivating, touching as well as educational. And, in this respect, we could easily rate this movie in that way if we treat KATYN as yet another film on WWII. However, the case here is different, more to say exceptionally unique.

Andrzej Wajda, after 18 years since the downfall of communist regime, fulfills the duty he feels to his parents and all Polish Patriots and makes a film on the theme that, not long ago, was not only forbidden to discuss in theater or cinema, but in all public places, the Truth that was prohibited and highly unwelcome, the Truth about the slaughter of more than 20,000 Polish best officers committed by Soviet communists in the forests of Katyn. Andrzej Wajda based his film on Andrzej Mularczyk's story POST MORTEM and consulted great Katyn witnesses, including recently deceased Priest Zdzislaw Peszkowski (1918-2007). If the film is good or weak belongs to the opinions of particular viewers. But lots of people on the premiere day stated that it's a historic work. Why?

KATYN, though a movie, is a wonderful documentary that supplies the viewer with TRUTHFUL information on what really happened in 1940, why it happened and who did this (facts that were most distorted in many historical books and many other sources for years). Here, the truth is more important than anything else. The movie contains archive footage, pictures and terrific narrator. These moments are well balanced and, though appearing several times, do not disturb anything but make for all the rest. And what is the rest?

The rest contains particularly vivid plots of families, their dreams, their fear, husbands/sons' honor, wives' love and care, and foremost young officers' martyrdom. The story of Andrzej (Artur Zmijewski) is exceptionally moving. His situation seems to represent the Poland of that time: torn between two oppressors, two worlds: Nazi Germany who attacked it on September, the 1st, 1939 and communist Russia who attacked it from the east 17 days later. As a victim of Katyn massacre, Andrzej appears to tell us a tragic story of separation, extreme suffering, but hope, to the very last day, the hope for survival. His notebook seems to tell us: "No, I will live, they're taking us somewhere but I'll surely see my beloved woman, my loving mum and my sweet daughter." The tragic though full of hope Christmas Eve also depicts that attitude. Other characters, including Jerzy (Andrzej Chyra), Andrzej's wife Anna (Maja Ostaszewska), General's wife (Danuta Stenka) constitute a brilliant insight into various, usually helpless, reactions towards evil, hypocrisy, injustice, cruelty and neutrality.

These stories are executed in an accurate and universal way. In such historic but tragic content, there is usually a tendency to become either too preachy or too emotional, which, to some extend, jerk the tears from viewers' eyes by force. Wajda does not do anything of these. He remains with the people, with humanity in general, does not give the final answer to anything. He seems to be with all of us and appears to depict a quest for truth, quest for justice and for humanity. Besides, he uses lots of very accurate symbols. The unforgettable and probably most thought provoking symbol is when Andrzej's wife looks for her husband and uncovers the bodies of soldiers. Among them, she occurs to uncover the figure of Christ taken from the Cross in church and laid among the deceased. Haven't we killed God by losing respect for life? Another brilliant symbol is when Russian soldiers tear the Polish flag into two parts, hanging the red part again as the Russian flag and using the white part as a foot dressing.

Except for the factors described above, KATYN is also a wonderful piece of work as a film. Very good cinematography, moody atmosphere, flawless performances. Artur Zmijewski does a brilliant job as Andrzej, Maja Ostaszewska is genuine as his wife and heroic, in a sense, Maja Komorowska is again a real artist in her job giving a real portrayal of the caring and then mourning mother. And Andrzej Chyra as Jerzy whose conscience and solidarity do not allow him to go on...magnificent!

But at the end I must tell you that it was not easy for me to write this review. The stories like this one do not lead to wordy comments, much noise, opinions, praise or criticism. They call for silence, the sacred silence that lets us honor those who died in such inhumane way. This silence shall constitute a significant message for today's generation, shall help us see deeper and give us faith to believe that their lives did not end in the soil. Therefore, though difficult, I consider KATYN one of the most important movies I have seen in my life.

Yes, dear young Patriot, hold Your Rosary high. The world will probably call your act "the act of despair". Yet, the world is befriended with lie and you are now victorious in a world of Glory and Eternal Light where there is no room for "lie". R.I.P.

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