Described as: "A monument to one of the darkest secrets of the Soviet era.For filmmaker Andrzej Wajda, painful events from his own past have been resurrected in Katyn. The film dramatises one of the last major acknowledged crimes of World War II, where up to 20,000 Polish officers died at the hands of Joseph Stalin’s secret police. Wadja’s father was one of them. Highly moving in content, Wadja still manages to adroitly unfurl events like a master class, rather than steep his story with sentimentality and exaggerated emotion. This is powerful stuff, and it clearly touched the hearts of the Polish people, taking a sizeable US$14 million at the box office. Nominated for an Oscar in this year’s best foreign language category."
Katyn was a sell out last night for the Melbourne International Film Festival. I went into the film not knowing much about the events in Katyn, a forest where thousands of Polish officers were systematically murdered in 1940. Beautifully shot with fragments of real footage from the 1930s and early 1940s, the movie allows you to see the frustration of the Polish who had it tough from the Soviets and the Germans. Once the massacre had come out, both the Soviets and German propaganda machines went into overdrive, blaming each other for the murders. This left the Poles, many knowing the truth, to keep quiet or be taken away if they spoke out about the Red Army.
The last scene which shows exactly what happened to the large group of POW captives is quiet, graphic and very moving. The last scene of the bodies being covered with dirt, fades to black with a Polish prayer/song then is quiet for several minutes as if the audience is giving their respects. Probably one of the most moving parts of the film. It was also a film that no one clapped at the end (I hate film festival clappers!!), however due to the film starting late, we all had to be shuffled through the exit doors at the screen at the completion which was a little POW camp to me after such a film. I hope that it gets the Oscar for best foreign film, definitely a contender.