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Thursday 5 August 2010

The Touching End Of 'Katyń'

'Katyń' is a film about the Katyń disaster; the mass murder of thousands of Polish nationals by the Russian Secret Police, the NKVD, between April & May, 1940. Russia did not take any form of accountability for what happened until as late as 1990, and even now relationships are still strained. I previously wrote 'There are still things to be answered about Katyn. Bodies to be found, acts to be accounted for and compensation sought, more than 70 years later." It still cuts deep with the Polish people. Even more so after the heartbreaking death of the Polish Prime Minister, Lech Kaczynski, and many other politicians and military personnel, who died in a tragic plane accident when en route to Katyn, to commemorate the seventy years since their fellow countrymen were killed, in April this year. That event, and the investigation about the accident, has caused even more stress on the relationship between the two nations.

The truth about what happened in 1940, the magnitude of the cover-up by numerous nations in the years that followed, and the complexity of the event politically, and even more so for thousands of people, personally, could never be taken care of in one feature film. In fact; an event like this makes you realize the extreme limitations of the medium. 'Katyń' (the film) was an important film, it had to be made, and it has to be seen, but it is still just a small spec of dust in the vast sea of multi-layered complexity; that we will never know about.

We don't see the mass execution until the very end of the film. When it finally arrives on screen it is harrowing, fast-paced, and deeply upsetting.

'Katyń' ended in a way I've not seen in a film before. It faded to black, and then stayed on black, for exactly one minute - and then the credits rolled. The blackness was accompanied by a beautiful piece of music. Whether you'd call it a minute's silence, a minute's reflection, or a minute to recover yourself--- it was definitely needed.

When I say the touching end of Katyń, I'm just talking about the movie. Because for Poland, it looks like Katyń will never end. It is with them, and with us in the rest of the world, forever. And unfortunately, all that most of us can really do, is watch movies about it.

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