The secret 1940 execution of 22,000 Polish POW and other patriotic citizens and its legacy is examined in this multi-thread historical drama from veteran Polish filmmaker Andrej Wajda (Danton, Man of Iron, Ashes and Diamonds).
Shortly after Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, the Red Army invaded a territory of Poland from the east (in direct violation of the Polish-Soviet Non Aggression Pact). One of their first actions was to divide the Polish army into enlisted men and officers – the former were allowed to return home, the latter were placed in internment camps. Young Polish captain Andrzej (Artur Zmijewski) is a prisoner to the people he thought were his allies. Deported to the USSR, Andrzej eventually becomes one of the many tragedies of a genocide that takes place in the Katyn forest (on Stalin’s orders). Oblivious to his fate, his wife Anna (Maja Ostaszewska) is relentless in her search for the truth.
Wise and experienced enough to know that the scars of history can only be traced with the most sensitive of touches, Wajda builds this portrait of the Soviet Union’s dirtiest wartime secret through the lives of both those who died and those who were left behind. It’s a broad canvas and Wajda orchestrates the complex narrative with his usual aplomb, dissecting both the Russian cover-up and the Nazi’s attempt to use news of the event as propaganda.
(15) 118min, Filmhouse, Edinburgh and selected release from Mon 29 Jun.