We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
In 1940, some 15,000 officers of the Polish army were rounded up, transported in sealed buses to a forest named Katyn, shot in the back of their heads by the Russian KGB and buried in mass graves. That is the simple truth. When the nation was occupied by both the Nazis and Soviets, their deaths were masked in silence. Then the Nazis dug up the graves and blamed the deaths on the Soviets. After the defeat of Hitler and the Soviet occupation of Poland, history was rewritten and the official version blamed the massacre on the Nazis.
One of the officers murdered that day was Jakub Wajda, whose son Andrzej would become a leading Polish film director, and one of the chroniclers of the Solidarity movement. Now 82, Andrzej has evoked what happened that day and how it infected Polish society for 50 years. Reflect that everyone in Poland knew the truth of the massacre, but to lie about it became an official requirement under the Soviet-controlled regime. Thus, in some cases, to gain immunity or advancement in postwar Poland required parents and children, brothers and sisters of the dead to remain silent about their fates.
This poor bruised nation, trapped by time and geography between the two dark evils of 20th century Europe, has prevailed, and its survival is embodied in the career of Wajda, who in key films starting in the 1950s found a way to say what he needed even under communist national film censorship. His early films, "Kanal" (1957), about the Warsaw Uprising, and "Ashes and Diamonds" (1958), about the Polish Resistance during the war, involved Poland’s two oppressors.
A single image at the beginning of “Katyn” expresses the nation’s dilemma. A bridge is crowded by fleeing civilians — from both ends. Some flee advancing Nazis. Some flee advancing Russians. As the two armies, in concert under the Hitler-Stalin Pact, acted together, such situations took place. The refugees are not tattered stragglers, but ordinary civilians, torn so quickly from domestic security that they carry suitcases, although they could have little idea of the journey ahead for them.