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 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.
The film opens and closes with post-war scenes from the perspective of Eleanor Roosevelt (Joan Blackham) as she visits the protagonist Lyudmila Pavlichenko (Yulia Peresild) during the former first lady's 1957 trip to the Soviet Union. Pavlichenko's story is told through flashbacks to 1942 when Pavlichenko toured the United States with Roosevelt, and further flashbacks to Pavlichenko's experiences in the Soviet Union. After the German invasion of the USSR, university student Pavlichenko becomes a sniper in the 25th Rifle Division. She fights in the Battle of Odessa and, eventually, the defense of Sevastopol. After 309 confirmed kills, she is sent to the United States to campaign for American support. Eleanor Roosevelt invites her to the White House, and the two become friends.
In 1941, Lyudmila is a student who has just gotten into university; to celebrate, she goes to a shooting range with her friends including a classmate named Masha, doing exceptionally well despite never have shot before. At home, her father shows no pride in her, having desired a son who could become a soldier. In a twist of events, her perfect shooting results at the range eventually result in the military contacting her for a sharpshooting program, as Germany has just invaded the Soviet Union. Though a doctor courting her, Boris, tells her she should stay with him, she rejects what she perceives as cowardice and leaves to fight on the Eastern Front.
During training, Lyudmila is shown as an excellent sniper, and eventually is partnered with a grizzled veteran named Makarov, who she falls in love with. He doesn't return her affections, however, and explains that he had lost his wife and family when the Germans invaded. She is also reunited with Masha, who is now a nurse engaged with a young pilot. During battle 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 frontlines, but finds out that Makarov has died in battle and the Soviets are retreating to Sevastopol.
She is paired with another superior, Leonid, and begins to show signs of trauma, showing signs of cruelty by shooting enemy soldiers to wound them and watch them suffer, rather than kill them instantly. Thus, their relationship starts off rough, but they eventually develop a close romance. Masha invites them to her wedding, but at the wedding reveals that her fiance had died, leaving her alone. This 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. Immediately, artillery shells begin to pummel the field, and Leonid shelters her from them with his body. Lyudmila again wakes up in a hospital, where Boris tells her Leonid has died. Though in a broken state, she is ordered to kill a top enemy sniper for propaganda purposes. The duel takes all of a 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 kills him.
Boris eventually is able to pull her away from battle. As the city is being evacuated, Boris carries a traumatized Lyudmila to a submarine that is evacuating the city. As panicked civilians attempt to board evacuating ships, Lyudmila realizes that Boris isn't coming with her, as he gave her his ticket. A voiceover by Eleanor Roosevelt reveals that Boris, Masha, and countless civilians and soldiers died defending the city from the Germans.
Roosevelt later visits Lyudmila after the war, where she is now a mother. They attend the opera together, with Lyudmila's son.
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.