How do you depict the heroics of Russian soldiers in World War II on a big screen? This challenge was successfully completed by the motion picture “They fought for their country.”
The movie, written and directed by Sergey Bondarchuk was released for the 30th anniversary of the Great Victory. But not everything went smoothly.
Shooting the Movie
Together with the order of the Ministry of Defence, Bondarchuk received a strong recommendation to shoot the movie based on the book of Marshal Grechko “Battle for the Caucasus.”
But Bondarchuk chose to film an adaptation of the novel with same title written by Sholokhov, who took an active part in the filming process.
Sholokhov wanted “to make the movie truthful to a fault.” That is why the shooting took place in Volgograd region, where most of the events described in the novel happened.
Soldiers in the Movie
To aid in the shooting a whole regiment was assigned. Soldiers helped digging trenches and mount set designs. The director of photography Vadim Yusupov recalled that during the digging of trenches they often found human remains from the Great Patriotic War, which were then given for burying. If unexploded ordnance were found, bomb technicians neutralized them on the spot.
July 1942. An infantry regiment took up defensive positions on the outskirts of Stalingrad. It was tasked to ensure the crossing of the Red Army over the Don River. For four days five privates have kept the defense under fire together with their regiment.
Large-scale battle scenes are not the most important in the movie. It’s a slow paced story about the characters, strengths and weaknesses of ordinary people, who defended their Motherland. There is also some Russian humor and thoughtful conversations.
Scenes of rural life, rye fields, wind-mills – all of this emphasizes the absurdity and horror of war.
Shukshin is Gone…
The role of a fun private Lopakhin was the last for the famous Russian actor Vasily Shukshin. He died on October 2, 1974. The actor died in his sleep. The remaining scenes of the movie were finished by another actor.
Among several awards of the movie the most honorable is the award of the Union of anti-fascist fighters.
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