Andrzej Wajda: Katyn massacre is his next movie project
Andrzej Wajda is currently planning to make a film about the Katyn massacre, reports Slovakian news agency TASR. But what is the “Katyn Massacre”?
The Katyn massacre
Several months after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, approximately 15,000 (some sources claim as many as 25,000) Polish prisoners of war were killed by the Soviet secret police in and around the forest near the city of Katyn, in what was then the western section of the Soviet Union (currently western Russia).
In 1943, the Nazis uncovered the remains during their invasion of the Soviet Union, and blamed the Soviets for the massacre. In turn, the Soviet government accused the Nazis of trying to cover up their own atrocities. Despite incriminating evidence pointing to the Kremlin, the U.S. and Britain – at the time allied with the USSR – opted to look the other way.
It was only in 1990 that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev admitted culpability for the massacre. Two years later, the Russian government handed over to Polish President Lech Walesa previously secret documents proving that Joseph Stalin had directly ordered the killings.
Many of the dead were Polish intellectuals and professionals who had been drafted following the Nazi invasion. Those men found themselves prisoners of the Red Army because of a secret deal between the Nazis and Stalin, which had granted the eastern half of Poland to the Soviet Union.
Katyn massacre: A personal tale for Andrzej Wajda
“My father was also executed then,” Andrzej Wajda is quoted as saying. As a result, his mother had to look for work, and the once privileged family of intellectuals was reduced to a working-class existence. “The real hero of this story is my mother,” Wajda added.
Andrzej Wajda received an honorary Oscar in 2000 for his body of work, which includes A Generation (1955), Kanal (1957), Ashes and Diamonds (1958), Man of Marble (1977), Man of Iron (1981), and A Love in Germany (1984).
Later this month, the Criterion Collection is releasing the box set "Andrzej Wajda: Three War Films," with three of the Polish director's most acclaimed films: Pokolenie / A Generation (1955), Kanal (1957), and Popiól i diament / Ashes and Diamonds (1958), which stars the "Polish James Dean," Zbigniew Cybulski. (Like Dean, the offbeat Cybulski had an unexpected, bloody death. At age 40, the by then heavy-drinking actor was struck by a railway train.)
In A Generation, Wajda explores the plight of Polish youth reaching adulthood during the German occupation; Kanal is reportedly the first film ever made about the Warsaw uprising of 1944; and Ashes and Diamonds is the tale of a young Polish resistance fighter who is ordered to kill a local Communist leader.
Bit of trivia: Roman Polanski has a small role in A Generation.
Scheduled Region 0 DVD (playable anywhere) release date in the United States: April 26, 2005
- Picture: Full frame, 1.33:1
- Audio: Polish (Dolby Digital Mono 1.0)
- Language: Polish
- Subtitle: English (optional)
- Black and White
- Interviews with director Andrzej Wajda and "his colleagues"
List price: US$79.95.
A Criterion Collection release.