For the most part, I try to stay away from politically charged themes, so for the sake of continuing in that tradition, do you mind if we call this a movie review? It really is about a movie, which happens to be about an important story. It came up for me again today when I read where Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has made a statement regarding the slaughter of thousands of Polish men in the forest of Katyn in 1940. The news story states the number at 2,000. So, I'm left wondering if that's the official number that Russia is willing to apologize for murdering, or is that a misprint? Because the actual number is around 22,000. It included Polish officers as well as university professors and anyone else considered a part of the intelligentsia. They were, by orders from Joseph Stalin, executed one by one and then buried in a mass grave, with bulldozers doing the rest of that very dirty work.
Rather than show images from the excavation of those graves, I'd like to share a trailer for the film. Like so many foreign films, it deals with really tough subjects, but it does so in an atmosphere that constitutes some of the best cinematography one could find in film, which, in this case, serves to heighten the horror over what happened at Katyn. No, it's not so difficult to watch that one is left feeling manipulated, but it does underscore our terrible shared history. The key to films such as this is that one would hope it serves a greater good and that it would aid in not allowing history to repeat itself.
It follows the lives of four women who are impacted, each in their own way, by the arrest and eventual deaths of the men in their lives: brothers, husbands, fathers, sons. Directed by Andrzej Wajda, who is considered one of the finest directors we have, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2008. To add even more gravitas to the film, not that it needed more, Wajda's own father was among those murdered in the Katyn forest. His story is a very personal one, indeed.
When I read the statement by the Russian foreign minister today, I almost got angry all over again. The carefully worded statement is filled with the kind of political rhetoric that still runs rampant. He said, "Russia is ready to consider a perfectly legitimate request to declare these people innocent." Huh? It kind of reminds me of President Obama's wording in his statement today regarding the complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq by the end of the year - except for those who will be left to guard that monstrous multi-billion dollar fiasco built by taxpayers money, our money, called the American Embassy, another monument to American greed. Okay, okay, he said, "After nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over." Again, huh? I'm sorry, Mr. President, but that is not and never was, "America's war." It is and always has been a Bush/Cheney war and then it became Your war. So, please stop referring to it as "America's war." I take extreme umbrage to that bullshit. But, as they say, I digress.