Photos and Video
Among other things, Katyn´ is a movie about the sometimes tragic results of geography. It's been Poland's unique hardship to buffer two voracious nations, Germany and Russia, and in 1939, the secret non-aggression pact signed by Hitler and Stalin squeezed the vise around Poland to a deadly point. The Katyn´ massacre of 1940 was just one of the pact's horrible results, but among World War II's many atrocities, the Red Army's systematic murder of 12,000 members of the Polish officers corps has stood as the Poles' secret cross to bear. It took the fall of communism and legendary director Andrzej Wajda to bring an honest reckoning of the event to the screen-no wonder, then, that Katyn´ was such a landmark event upon its Polish release. A fleet-footed epic traversing the years between the Red and Nazi Armies' simultaneous incursions into Poland and the country's fall (in 1945) into Soviet hands, Katyn´ centers on an imprisoned Polish Army captain, Andrzej, and the wife who waits for him to come home. Anna is resourceful and full of hope-in 1943, when the Nazis uncover the soldiers' mass grave, Andrzej's name is not on the list of the dead. But two years later, one man whose name was on the list reappears, and meanwhile the occupying Soviets have retrofit Katyn´ into a Nazi crime. The truth is known, unspoken, and for Anna, cruelly elusive. Wajda radiates the story of Anna and Andrzej outward, encompassing questions of honor and survival at the same time that he centripetally conducts the movie back to its fundamental object, the journal kept by Andrzej at the prison camp. The final sequences are as harrowing as they ought to be.
Director's Statement Collapse
After many attempts and much thought, I am now certain that a film about Katyń cannot set a goal of discovering the whole truth about that event, since it is now a historical and political fact. Those facts, to today’s viewer, could be a background for such events as human lots, since only they, shown on the big screen, can move the viewer in contrast to the relations of our history, which has its place in the written stories of those times. Therefore, I see my film about Katyń as a story of a family separated forever, about great illusions and the brutal truth about the Katyń crime. In a word, a film about individual suffering, which evokes images of much greater emotional content than naked historical facts. A film that shows the terrible truth that hurts, whose characters are not the murdered officers, but women who await their return every day, every hour, suffering inhuman uncertainty. Loyal and unshaken, convinced that it was only enough to open the door to see the long awaited man at it, as the tragedy of Katyń concerns those who live and lived then.
After years away from the Katyń tragedy, from the German exhumation in 1943 and next the Polish research work in the 90s, and even despite partial disclosing of the archives, we still know too little what the Katyń crime looked like in April and May 1940, committed on the strength of the decision by Stalin and his comrades of the Politburo of the Communist Party in Moscow on March 5, 1940. No wonder that for years we were convinced that our father could be living, as the last name Wajda featured on the Katyń list, but with the first name of Karol. Mother, almost till the end of her days, believed her husband would return—my father Jakub Wajda, a combatant of the Great War, the Polish-Soviet war, the Silesian Uprising, and the September campaign of 1939, the recipient of the Silver Cross and the Order of Virtuti Militari awarded posthumously.
I would not like the Katyń film, however, to be my personal search for the truth and a vigil light lit on the grave of Captain Jakub Wajda. Let it spin a tale about the suffering and drama of many Katyń families. About the Katyń lie that triumphs over the grave of Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, which forced into silence about it for half a century the then-allies, the Western ones of the USSR in the war against Hitler: Great Britain and the United States. I know that the young generation, fully aware and with enthusiasm, is moving away from our past. Busy with mundane matters, they forget names and dates, which, no matter if we want it or not, create us as a nation with its fears and misgivings surfacing at every political opportunity. Not long ago, a high school student on a TV program, asked what he associated September 17 with answered: with a church holiday. Maybe thanks to our film, the young man asked about Katyń will be able to say more than that it is the name of a small town not far away from Smolensk.
Film Information Collapse
[KATYN] | 2007 | 118 | Narrative Feature
Foreign Title: (Katyn)
Language: Polish, Russian, German
Premiere: New York
Cast & Credits Collapse
Principal Cast Artur Zmijewski, Maja Ostaszewska, Maja Komorowska, Wladyslaw Kowalksi, Jan Englert, Danuta Stenka
Based on Novel By Andrzej Mularczyk
Screenwriters Andrzej Mularczyk, Wladyslaw Pasikowski, Andrzej Wajda
Composer Krzysztof Penderecki
Director of Photography Pawel Edelman
Producer Michal Kwiecinski
Production Designer Magdalena Dipont
Editors Milenia Fiedler, Rafal Listopad
Connect to this film Collapse
About the Director(s)Collapse
Andrzej Wajda (b. 1926 in Suwalki, Poland) attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow and the ?ódz´ Film School. He has directed films since the '50s and was a director at Teatr Stary in Cracow from '62 to '98. He was a senator of Poland from '89 to '91. Among his more than two dozen films are Kanal (1957), Ashes and Diamonds (1958), Landscape After Battle (1970), Man of Marble (1977) and Man of Iron (1981, Golden Palm at Cannes). He received an honorary Oscar® for lifetime achievement in 2000 was nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar® for Katyn´. He has also received lifetime achievement awards from the Venice Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival.