Synopsis by Jason Buchanan
Celebrated Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda takes the helm for this Oscar-nominated drama detailing the harrowing events surrounding the 1940 massacre of captured Polish army officers in the Katyn Forest. A unique blend of conventional narrative and documentary-style filmmaking, Katyn opens in the spring of 1940, just as the Soviet Secret police execute a group of Polish officers. On September 1, 1939, Germen forces had descended upon Poland, paving the way for the Red Army to occupy east Poland as part of the Hitler-Stalin pact. As the Red Army assumed control of east Poland, all officers in the Polish army were placed in Soviet custody. Determined to remain loyal to the army despite the growing danger, Polish officer Andrzej refuses to flee with his wife, Anna. It isn't long before invading forces begin arresting professors in Cracow, and as the detainees languish in prison camps, their families start to fear that they'll never see their loved ones again. Flash forward to April 1943, and the Germans announce the discovery of mass graves. While Anna is relieved not to hear her husband's name on the list of bodies discovered, countless others are left to grieve their losses with no explanation or consolation. January 18, 1945: Cracow is liberated by the Red Army, and propagandist newsreels from the Soviet Union blame German forces for the massacre at Katyn. It is at that point that the fine line between collaboration and resistance within the People's Republic of Poland becomes exceptionally blurred. As the details surrounding the massacre gradually begin to emerge, Wajda reveals precisely how this horrifying massacre unfolded by flashing back to the spring of 1940 for an extended sequence in which Polish officer internees are transported by railroad to Smolensk and methodically dispatched before being casually buried in a mass grave.
massacre, Polish [nationality], secret-police, Soviet, war-crimes
High Historical Importance