Directed by Andrzej Wajda


The Soviet army massacres more than 15,000 Polish soldiers and civilians.

Polish director Andrzej Wajda “musters up the power of classical filmmaking and personal emotional investment to dramatize a stunning atrocity,” said Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly. Katyn takes its name from the forest in which, in 1940, Russian soldiers slaughtered 15,000 Polish soldiers and civilians at Stalin’s command. Among the victims was Wajda’s father. The Russians blamed the Nazis for these murders, and it wasn’t until 1990 that the Kremlin finally acknowledged responsibility. A “tireless, clearsighted chronicler,” Wajda fills in a bitter part of Polish history, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. Based on a novel by Andrzej Mularczyk, and informed by victims’ letters and diaries, his film is a “corrective to decades of distortion and forgetting.” The director is less thorough in explaining the incident’s historical context, said David Edelstein in New York. Filmgoers may look outside Katyn to learn how, as “Stalin was gearing up to fight Hitler,” Poland was caught between two strains of European totalitarianism. Katyn thus fails to capture the entire, terrible tragedy of the episode.