Katyn

2007

Drama / History / War

176
IMDb Rating 7 10 15,136

Synopsis


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1.09 GB
1280*720
Polish 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
121 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.25 GB
1920×1080
Polish 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
121 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Danusha_Goska 10 / 10 / 10

Worth the Pain You May Feel

I watched "Katyn" on a home computer screen. Even in that limited format, "Katyn" had an impact on me comparable to such cinematic greats as "Lawrence of Arabia." I cried throughout most of the film. I resolved that many of my relationships would be different. I remembered people I had known who reminded me of characters in the movie. After the film ended, I felt that I could not listen to the radio or read the newspaper or listen to anyone speak. I just needed to allow the film to sink into me. Naysayers have critiqued "Katyn" as boring and dull. If you need a film to depict war, occupation, and atrocity as shiny, compact, and compelling as a sports car, then you should listen to those naysayers; don't watch "Katyn," rather, watch the very silly, teen fanboy-friendly Quentin Tarantino flic, "Inglorious Bastards." If you've seen enough Hollywood productions jam-packed with sexy Nazis and happy endings, and you want to take in a film that dares to depict, in eyeblinks, what war, atrocity, and occupation looked like and felt like to real people, then by all means see "Katyn." One of the many features that I admired: "Katyn"'s Nazis are not sexy. They are not Tom Cruise, Liam Neeson, Christoph Waltz. "Katyn"'s Nazis are brutal, repugnant thugs. I respect this movie. There are too few movies about which I'd say that. It shows the courage not to attempt to weave an uplifting, feel-good atrocity narrative that leaves the viewer with a smile. This isn't "Schindler's List." "Schindler's List" is a very good movie, but this isn't that. It is, rather, very much like what World War Two and the subsequent Soviet occupation sounded like to me when I listened to my own older friends and relatives, who lived through both. This is disjointed narrative, stories that seem headed for redemption or even ecstasy but that end in random death, that end in aborted normalcy, aborted joy, aborted meaning. I felt, in watching these cold, pale, stoic characters, as if I were, once again, sitting across the table from older Eastern European friends and relatives. Yes, that's what they looked like. Yes, those are the facial expressions they assumed when they talked about the uncle who was rounded up and never heard from again, the daring, handsome lad who ended up in a mass grave – or when they pointedly did *not* talk about these people. The gravestone whose inscription dares to tell the truth; the tearing down of a propaganda poster; the Red Army soldier who struggles to do the right thing by a widow, who won't yet admit that she is a widow; the singing of exactly the right Christmas carol at exactly the right moment: those are exactly the heroic gestures that no one ever saw, that went unrecorded, that only one person lived to tell about, to tell me. Here they are, on screen. When a movie is named "Katyn" the viewer knows how it will end; it's kind of like a movie named "Auschwitz" or "Kolyma" or "Wounded Knee." There isn't going to be a surprise ending. I was still surprised by the ending, by how courageous and moving I found it. Once again, Andrzej Wajda managed to wow the film-goer in me. And he managed to move the human in me. See "Katyn." See a movie you can respect, a movie that is worth your time.

Reviewed by lychowski 9 / 10 / 10

A courageous film

Katyn by Andrzej Wajda A courageous film by a director who makes no concessions. Austerity instead of high-tech. What cineast of hallucinatory action, of nude and crude sensuality, of sequences full of monumental catastrophes would make a film in which one had scenes in a slower rhythm, without sex, with shadowy photography, with quiet music and giving ethical principles priority over the characters and their lives. One more reason, however, for us to thank Hollywood for nominating this film to run for the Oscar for the best foreign film. The Katyn massacre, perpetrated on Stalin's orders to eliminate the fine flower of the Polish intelligentsia, was left out of official Soviet history until the glasnost of Gorbatchov. There, in the Katyn forest and in other places as well, thousands of Polish officers were massacred. The Soviets tried to attribute it to the Nazis, but the truth eventually came to light. There is still, however, in Russia today, an attempt to deny the historical truth. I would like to make my own the reading of the film which focuses on this question of the distortion of historical fact by the apparatus of the state. The official lie imposed by the Soviet occupation of Poland brought torment to the lives of many of the families of the victims. Wajda's denunciation, along with the cry "Never kill again!" can also serve as an alert for our present world, in which so often a virtual reality becomes a substitute for the truth. The first group of interpretations belong to the women (wives, mothers, daughters) of the dead officers: how they coped, first with the hope of their return, and then with the definitive notice of their loss. They are marvellous interpretations, revealing the director's mastery and the talent of the actors. The portrayals demonstrate how, even when nothing else is left, there is still dignity. The wife of the dead General in Katyn refuses to endorse a declaration, prepared by the Nazis, denouncing the Soviets. The truth was known – why, then, should she play Hitler's propaganda game? He was just as much the enemy as Stalin was. Another woman wants to honour the memory of her brother by putting on the family tomb a stone with his name on it. Courageously she challenges the regime, but in vain - the stone is destroyed because on it the date of the officer's death indicates clearly who is to blame. Most of the male characters were simply victims of massacre; among those who had the opportunity of showing themselves authentically noble was a Russian officer who tried to save his Polish neighbour and her daughter. "I couldn't save my own family but I can help yours." And it is a Polish officer who has changed sides who represents, in the middle of so much heroism, the weakness of some. "It is necessary to survive," he declared. An entire population was suffocated by the Nazi and Soviet occupation. It is a shock to be shown in the film the cordial relations between the officials of the occupying powers, which would have been inconceivable in earlier years. Poland is partitioned (yet again!) by the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. In the Poland occupied by the Nazis all the professors of a university are summoned and arrested there and then (as a means of impeding the formation of future opposition). In the Poland occupied by the Soviets, the Polish officers are made prisoners of war (an efficient means of stopping them fighting for the independence of their country). Pawel Edelman's photography is simply a work of genius, a mixture of sombre realism and the surreal. The music of Krzystof Penderecki fits the narrative like a glove, producing just the right atmosphere at the right time. The dry narrative style has something in common with a documentary and calls to mind another of his films, Love in Germany. And there is no lack of the symbolism present in all his films, this time with a remarkably religious tone. In the development of the story there are moments taken from the films of that period – as, for example, the powerful exhumation of the dead, scenes which served Soviets and Nazis alike in placing the blame on each other. For me the strongest images are those of the young man who refused to declare that his father had not been killed in Katyn by the Soviets; of the two waves of fugitives running in opposite directions and meeting in the middle of a bridge – which way to run? of the general who tried to animate his men in the last Christmas of their lives and of the little girl awaiting the return of her father. This last touched me in a special way, because I too had waited for my father's return at the end of the war. Katyn is, without doubt, one of Andrzej Wajda's greatest films. Tomasz Lychowski Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February, 2008. Translated into English by Graham Connell

Reviewed by marcin_kukuczka 9 / 10 / 10

Post Mortem Gloria et Lux Aeterna Victis

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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