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392. The Last Witness; movie review

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Title : 392. The Last Witness; movie review
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Cert 15
90 mins
BBFC advice: Contains disturbing images, stromg violence

I am stunned. I thought I watched Andrzej Wajda's Katyn only a couple of years ago and searched on the everyfilm archive for my reflections.
Then I discovered it was released in 2007 - four years before the everyfilm blog began!
It demonstrates my horror at the Russian massacre of Polish intelligentsia that it is still vivid today.
The Last Witness focuses on the same history but packs less of a punch because it doesn't attack it head first. Instead, its makers have come up with a rather clumsy tale about an investigation by a whisky-addled English journalist (Alex Pettyfer).
The reporter who works for a Bristol-based newspaper is intrigued by the latest suicide of a former Polish soldier who was billeted in a nearby post-Second World War camp.
Against the specific instructions of his editor (Michael Gambon), he pursues his interest in the death and hands his assignment to a cider festival to a typist.
Having been a journalist for more than 30 years, I could pick a dozen holes in this basic premise but top of the list is the idea that all reporters are drunks and cannot take instruction.
The truth is that we lived in fear of editors, particularly back in the day. If they gave instruction, it was gospel.
The stereotypical portrayal of the journalist is not the only distraction from the laudable main point of the film which is to highlight British complicity in covering up the Katyn atrocities.
The reporter is also embroiled in an entirely unnecessary romance with the convenient wife (Talulah Riley) of a senior army officer (Henry Lloyd-Hughes).
Nevertheless, Pettyfer's character manages to inveigle himself with the Polish officers and a Russian (Robert Wieckiewicz) who reveals the previously unknown Katyn story.
He then faces huge hurdles to try to publish it.
There is no doubt that the Polish people faced a huge injustice after the Second World War with the cover-up of Katyn and the erasing of its pilots from the history of the Battle of Britain.
Indeed, their sad story deserves a big budget retelling.
Unfortunately, movies such as Piotr Szkopiak's don't have enough financial backing to bring the subject in front of the masses.
The Last Witness has hardly been seen at the cinemas and I rented it on iTunes.
I understand why because it lacks finesse and is punctuated by stereotypes. Nevertheless, its heart is in the right place.

Reasons to watch: The Katyn story is one of the most disturbing of World War II
Reasons to avoid: A rather clumsy British take on it.

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 5/10

Director quote - Piotr Szkopiak: “The best reaction I had to the script while I was writing it was people would read it and then say, ‘Is this real?’ I would explain that it was real and it was a big surprise to them.” 

The big question - Why have atrocities such as Katyn taken so long to be exposed?

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