Andrzej Wajda / PL, 2007
Polish-Belosrusian-German version / Czech subtitles, 117 min
After the Soviet aggression on 17 September 1939 around 4,500 Polish officers were imprisoned in Kozelsk. At Stalin’s orders, the majority were executed in Katyn in the early spring of 1940. Thousands more Polish prisoners perished in other camps. In 1943 the Germans accused the NKVD for the Katyn massacre; the Soviets in turn laid the blame on the Germans. In post-war Poland people were punished for spreading the truth about the Katyn atrocity… Wajda, whose father also died in captivity, however, bases his work on the experiences of the families of Katyn victims. They were not only deceived by two-way propaganda, but also terrorised by two sources of totalitarian power. The plot largely unfolds in occupied Cracow, whose oppressive atmosphere Wajda creates from his own recollections, and leads into the ominous period after liberation, perceived as yet another occupation. Through his choice of protagonists, in particular, the women, he draws out a dark past with its resolute voice of hope, solidarity and quiet courage. The director treats this highly political theme on a personal level; as a reliable chronicler of Polish history he also highlights the suffering of the intellectual elite, systematically annihilated by totalitarian regimes.