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A view on Blu-ray by Brian Montgomery


Katyn [Blu-ray]

(aka "Post mortem. Opowiesc katynska")


(Andrzej Wajda, 2007)




Review by Brian Montgomery



Theatrical: TVP S.A.

Blu-ray: Artificial Eye (spine # 009)



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:01:47.758

Disc Size: 35,410,353,536 bytes

Feature Size: 21,827,426,304 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.93 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 22nd, 2010



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video




DTS-HD Master Audio Polish 1931 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1931 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Polish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB



English, none



• The Making of Katyn (27:00)

• Interview with Andrzej Wajda (49:34)

• Theatrical Trailer

• Trailer Gallery



The Film:

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.

Excerpt of review from Roger Ebert located HERE


Image:    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The image on the recent Blu-ray of "Katyn" from UK based Artificial Eye is yet another example of the outstanding work that the company has been putting into their recent releases. Although the overpriced, Koch Lorber, SD-DVD was originally released last year in a heavily cropped 1.78:1 (and interlaced - reviewed HERE), this HD edition restores the film to its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. What's more, the image on the disc is again very impressive with minutely sharp detail, crystal clarity, gorgeous grain levels, and colors that are well suited to their environments without any sign of over saturation or muting. All in all, it's another stellar job and one that I can't even find one little thing to complain about.
















Audio & Music:

I know that I might sound like a broken record at this point, but the audio here is very, very strong as well. AE gives their viewers the choice between listening to the film in its original Polish using either DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1. Again, both do a competent job, but it's the former that does the better job. The HD track sounds virtually flawless on my system and captures ever minute detail that the soundtrack has to offer. Also included are optional English subtitles that always readable and never obstructed the image. Finally, I'm happy to say that this disc is region free!



Aside from a series of trailers, the disc comes with two lengthy extras. First up is another "making of..." documentary that offer a tremendous amount of insight into the production of the film using both raw footage and talking heads. Second, the disc also boasts a 50 minute long interview that is an absolute must watch for anyone interested in this film, Wajda's career, or even Polish history. It's really essential viewing.



Bottom line:

This is the latest masterpiece from Wajda and should be owned by anyone interested in his work. Here he once again shows why he's generally considered to be the master of Polish cinema, and the disc does a stupendous job translating his vision for home viewing. Once again, I give this my highest possible recommendation and consider it to be essential for most DVD collections.

On a side note, I've now gone through five Blu-Rays that I've recently been sent by Artificial Eye for review, and I must say that I've been enormously impressed with each one of them. Not only are they currently putting out some of the most important works of contemporary cinema (along with many classics from the great auteurs of Europe), but they're consistently releasing them in excellent packages. Although they did face some problems in the past, this is one company that cinephiles should keep their eyes on. With their recent spat of releases, they've become one of the most important and relevant production companies working today and their HD releases are on the same level as those from other companies like Criterion, MoC, or BFI.


Brian Montgomery
May 4th, 2010





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