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.
Continue reading: Katyn Review