Battle for Sevastopol
|Battle for Sevastopol|
Russian theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sergey Mokritskiy|
|Music by||Evgeniy Galperin|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Battle for Sevastopol (Russian: "Битва за Севастополь"; Ukrainian: "Незламна" "Indestructible") is a 2015 biographical war film about Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a young Soviet woman who joined the Red Army to fight the Nazi invasion of the USSR and became one of the deadliest snipers in World War II. The film, a joint Russian-Ukrainian production, was released in both countries on April 2, 2015; its international premiere took place two weeks later at the Beijing International Film Festival.
The film is directed by Sergey Mokritskiy and stars Yulia Peresild as Pavlichenko. In addition to Beijing, where Peresild was awarded Best Actress award, the film has also appeared at Cannes Film Festival.
In 1941, Lyudmila Pavlichenko is a student who has just passed the entrance exams for a prestigious university; to celebrate, she goes to a shooting range with her friends including a female classmate named Masha. In a twist of events, her almost perfect shooting results at the range eventually result in the Red Army contacting her to enter a sharpshooting program. A Jewish doctor named Boris attempts to court her, but she rejects him and leaves to fight on the Eastern Front following the German invasion.
Eventually Lyudmila is partnered with a grizzled veteran sniper named Makarov, with whom she falls in love. He doesn't return her affections, however, and explains that he lost his family when the Germans invaded. She is also reunited with Masha, who is now a nurse engaged with a young pilot. While defending the city of Odessa, she is injured and Makarov drags her to safety to a local hospital, where Boris has volunteered as a military doctor. After awakening, Lyudmila manages to get Boris to sign her papers so that she can return to the front lines, but finds out that Makarov has died in battle and the Soviets are retreating to Sevastopol.
Once back on the front, Lyudmila is paired with a male sniper named Leonid. She begins to wound enemy soldiers to watch them suffer, to her new partner's horror. Despite a rough start to the relationship, the two eventually develop a close romance. Masha, now a nurse on the frontline, invites them to her wedding, but then reveals the death of her fiance. This development leads Lyudmila to tell Leonid privately that she wants a son.
While on patrol in a field, Leonid steps on a mine that triggers a flare, signalling artillery fire on to the pair's position. Lyudmila again wakes up in a field hospital, where Boris tells her Leonid died in the ambush. Though wounded and exhausted, she is ordered to kill a top enemy sniper for Soviet propaganda. The duel takes the length entire day, and, tired of waiting, Lyudmila steps out of cover, exposing herself completely. She is shot, but manages to pinpoint the enemy sniper's location and kill him. As Sevastopol is being evacuated under siege, Boris carries a broken and traumatized Lyudmila to a submarine that is evacuating the city. While panicked civilians attempt to board, Lyudmila realizes that Boris gave her his own papers to leave the city. A voiceover reveals that Boris, Masha, and countless civilians and soldiers died defending the city from the Germans.
Lyudmila's military record makes her a vital propaganda tool for the Soviets, who parade her around the world to collect funds for the fight against fascism. Encouraged by a meeting with the American First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyudmila attempts to embrace her femininity by wearing a skirt during a speech in New York. Though the Soviet propaganda minister on tour with her forces her to change back in to a Red Army uniform, she makes a vital impression on the largely male crowd, asking, "Don't you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?" After the success of Lyudmila's speech, she is approached by American folk singer Woody Guthrie, who eventually writes a song based on her exploits.
Roosevelt later visits Lyudmila after the war in Moscow, during a 1957 trip. The two attend the opera together with Lyudmila's son, who is implied to be Leonid's as well.
The filming began in 2012 after the first archive material devoted to Pavlichenko was examined. Serhiy Mokrytskyi, who is better known as a cinematographer, served as director; after his arrival, the plot was altered to more closely match Pavlichenko's life. During production, there was concern of the growing political tension between Russia and Ukraine. However, the film was successfully released in both countries on the same day, in each country's own respective language.