The 9th Company
|The 9th Company|
|Directed by||Fedor Bondarchuk|
|Produced by||Alexander Rodnyansky|
|Written by||Yuri Korotkov|
|Music by||Dato Evgenidze|
|Edited by||Igor Litoninsky|
|Distributed by||Art Pictures Group|
The 9th Company (Russian: 9 рота, romanized: 9 rota) is a 2005 Russian war film directed by Fedor Bondarchuk and set during the Soviet–Afghan War. The film is loosely based on a real-life battle that took place at Elevation 3234 in early 1988, during the last large-scale Soviet military operation (Magistral) in Afghanistan.
At a farewell ceremony in Krasnoyarsk, a band of young Soviet Army recruits is preparing to leave for military duty. Lyutyi (Artur Smolyaninov) one of the conscripts formed a group along with Chugun (Ivan Kokorin), Gioconda (Konstantin Kryukov), Ryaba (Mikhail Evlanov), Stas (Artyom Mikhalkov), Seryi (Ivan Nikolaev), and Vorobey (Aleksey Chadov). They had different talents and personalities that made it hard for them to form a bond with each other at first.
On arrival at their bootcamp in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan they met another recruit, Pinochet (Soslan Fidarov), a Chechen recruit from Grozny, and their drill instructor, Senior Praporschik Dygalo, a seasoned, traumatized veteran of several tours in Afghanistan and a brutal trainer who treats the recruits harshly. During their training, the recruits overcome their differences and build bonds. Between the training sessions, they receive lessons in operating plastic explosives (which prompts some comic relief) and how to communicate with the locals in Afghanistan (underlining the vast cultural differences between Soviet and Afghan culture). During an orientation, a Soviet General asks if anyone in the VDV has changed their minds as they were about to be reassigned to another unit. Vorobey and Stas did plan to quit but halted their decision to quit as they saw themselves as a part of the family.
Lately Dygalo wakes up the recruits and beats everyone, although many claimed that he is suffering from mental breakdown, they lately knew that he wants to go with them to Afghanistan and his request got rejected. The recruits lately left for Afghanistan via plane.
On their arrival at Baghram air base they were greeted by a group of VDV troops who have fulfilled their military service and are due to return home. One of the departing soldiers gives one of the new arrivals, Lyutyi, a talisman that he claims has kept him safe through several tours and multiple firefights. Homeward bound, the departing soldier's transport plane is hit by enemy fire from the nearby mountains and crashes, giving the new recruits their first taste of war. Shortly thereafter, the soldiers are assigned to the 9th company, where their trainer and drill instructor, Dygalo, had previously served. Pinochet however was reassigned to another unit separating him to Lyutyi and his friends.
Upon arriving there, they met Warrant Officer Pogrebnyak "Khokhol" (Fedor Bondarchuk) who is Dygalo's second-in-command. They also met Sergeant Afanasiev "Afanasiy" (Dmitry Mukhamadeev) and Sergeant Kurbanhaliev "Kurbashi" (Amadu Mamadakov) who were Dygalo's former companions as he was claimed to be discharged. Meanwhile, Chugun was given the machine gun that Private Samylin equipped during his duty in Afghanistan by Pomidor (Aleksandr Bashirov). Khokhol tells about Dygalo's life on the company and tells his habits during his tours of duty in Afghanistan. Lately the company left the headquarters to deliver supplies in an outpost of Soviet troops which would be the new component of the 9th company. While travelling through the base, Afanasiy also told the new members of the company about the disadvantages of their allies, the Afghan Army that was demoralized and weakened by mass desertion of its officers during the war. Upon delivering all the supplies needed and spending most of the night in the base, Patefon (Aleksandr Sheyn) invited the company for a shooting exercise but came across in skirmish with a group of mujahideen led by Akhmed (Marat Gudiev). Lately Vorobey kills Akhmed making him the first one on the company to kill a Mujahideen. The company would soon leave for their next mission.
The company is soon deployed to the front as a part of Operation Magistral, they were given orders to hold a nameless hill at all costs. They fortified the hill and turned it into a base. That night however, they encountered a group of mujahideen again by this time, only Ryaba survived the attack as the far cordon was entirely annihilated by the attack, It made him speechless and crippled. To make sure that the mujahideen won't start an attack again, several soldiers were ordered to guard the hill as a part of their duty to prevent a surprise attack from the fighters. Stas however fell asleep during his duty and was beaten up by Khokhol, who gave him the full definition of being in the battlefield.
The next day, Gioconda was instructed to find matches at a nearby village. He encounters an old Afghan man whom he struggles to communicate with but was able to make him understand what he was saying. Upon entering the village, he found out what was the feeling of being an infidel entering Afghan villages. Upon making it inside the house of the man, he uses the word Haram to communicate with him. He was lately given matches by a group of kids living there who happen to be the grandsons of the man. Gioconda left the village in fear of being killed, he crossed paths with some members of the company led by Captain Bystrov (Aleksei Kravchenko), he was punished for leaving his position as they already planned to storm the village. Lately they encountered pockets of mujahideen who launched an ambush on a convoy, an injured Ryaba however suffers from a mental breakdown and was shot in the head as he yells to the company to stop firing, Captain Bystrov was also killed in action during the fight. It left some of the soldiers in the convoy dead and some of the vehicles there destroyed and damaged. Khokhol, Lyutyi, and Vorobey meanwhile attacked the positions of the mujahideen, but was forced to return upon learning that they were already in the village. The company lately stormed the village, they were greeted by silence there, however Stas was shot at the back, the company retreated back as they tried to save Stas from dying but he untimely dies from his wounds. The village was shelled afterwards by BM-21 Grad rocket launchers.This brought a great sorrow for the whole company especially on Vorobey.
Afanasiy led some men of the company to loot an approaching convoy only to be scared by the guards of it. The company then made turns on telling what will they do after being discharged from duty in Afghanistan, that night, the company celebrated New Year's Eve by listening to Mikhail Gorbachev's Speech via radio, making remarks on their fallen comrades, having toast and drinking alcohol, Pinochet however arrives in the company's base to reunite with his friends, he somehow got into some sort of trouble with his unit that caused him to be reassigned to the 9th company. The company then started the party by dancing while playing some Soviet pop Music. that morning, while the entire company was asleep, Gioconda went outside of the base but encounters a large pocket of mujahideen, he was unable to fully warn the company on the upcoming attack as he was shot on the head. The company was lately alerted when the mujahideen started the attack, it killed some of the men but the company were able to engage in the trenches, they were able to prevent the mujahideen from breaking in the lines until they were shelled by mortars. Patefon tries to contact the reinforcements but was killed by a mortar shell and disrupts the communication lines. The company was able to return in the lines and engage the mujahideen, Khokhol orders some of the men to shell the enemy positions with mortars but Khokhol's position was hit by a rocket that killed two of his men and abandoned any hopes to disrupt the enemy lines. The mujahideen was able to break in the lines forcing the company to fight in close combat. Stranded, with low ammunition, and disrupted communications, the company believes that there will be reinforcements arriving soon as they patiently wait to be taken back to Tashkent, the mujahideen meanwhile slowly gains the upper hand. Lately another shelling begins, a rocket kills Khokhol while Kurbashi was killed by a bullet. During the fight however, Lyutyi along with the surviving members of the company fought their way to prevent the mujahideen from launching a complete ambush on the convoy. Vorobey however was hit on his leg while fighting, unable to make his way to the lines of his comrades, Chugun uses his machine gun to attack the mujahideen in hopes to cover him but was killed instantly. Vorobey lately detonates a grenade to himself as he was approached by two mujahideen fighters. This led Lyutyi to fearlessly charge to the enemy lines with Samylin's machine gun along with the company. They briefly gain the upper hand and was able to push the fighters back in their positions. At the end, only seven of them survived and they started searching for any alive officers but only to be greeted by dead bodies of both Soviet and mujahideen fighters. Lyutyi along with Afanasiy led the last men of the company in defense of the hill. They lately encountered the last of the fighters and fearlessly fought them till the last man while being accommpanied by Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunships. Afanasiy was shot on the chest while the last of the men were killed on the gunfight, the helicopters then bombed the hill and started searching for survivors.
Lyutyi was the only alive by that time, speechless and severely crippled he tells to the Colonel (Andrey Krasko) that the convoy now may pass as the 9th company had already fulfilled their duty and mission. However the colonel said that there will be no convoy as the Soviets were already withdrawing from Afghanistan. However Lyutyi keeps repeating his statements, the colonel then lately asks him about the communication and comforts him. As he passed through the dead bodies of the entire company he cries and removes the Talisman from his neck as he kneels in the ground.
Lately on February 15, 1989, a column of BTR-80 was seen leaving Afghanistan, Lyutyi was in one of the vehicles along with other soldiers who had fulfilled their duty in Afghanistan. He expressed his sympathy as two years later the country they have been fighting for will vanish (Soviet Union). He also told the fate of most of the people in the military. This includes Senior Praporschik Dygalo being reassigned to Tula to train recruits, he then dies on a night march a year later due to stroke. Snow White and her mother along with other Russian families remain on Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan until they all disappeared without a trace. He also said that from years later the veterans like him in the conflict will be scattered ruthlessly by the new life. He lately said that the 9th Company won its own war.
In the film, only one soldier from the company is shown to have survived unscathed and the company is said to have been "forgotten" by command because of the Soviet withdrawal. In reality, the 9th Company, 345th Independent Guards Airborne Regiment was pinned down under heavy fire on Hill 3234 from 7–8 January 1988. They managed to stop three attacks by an estimated 200-250 mujahideen. The company lost a total of 6 men and killed around 200 mujahideen. Another 28 out of the total 39 were seriously wounded. Four of the killed soldiers were posthumously awarded the golden star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. The unit was in constant communication with headquarters and received everything the regimental commander, Colonel Valery Vostrotin, could provide in terms of rations, ammunition, reinforcements, and helicopter evacuation of the wounded.
- Artur Smolyaninov as Private then Sergeant Oleg Lutaev (Lyutyy)
- Aleksey Chadov as Private Volodya Vorobiev (Vorobey)
- Konstantin Kryukov as Private Ruslan Petrovskyy (Dzhokonda)
- Ivan Kokorin as Private Chugainov (Chugun)
- Mikhail Evlanov as Private Ryabokon (Ryaba)
- Artyom Mikhalkov as Private Stasenko (Stas)
- Soslan Fidarov as Private Bigbulatov (Pinochet)
- Ivan Nikolaev as Seryy
- Mikhail Porechenkov as Senior Praporschik Alexandr Dygalo
- Fedor Bondarchuk as Warrant Officer Pogrebnyak (Khokhol)
- Dmitriy Mukhamadeev as Sergeant Afanasiev (Afanasiy)
- Irina Rakhmanova as Belosnezhka (Snow White girl)
- Amadu Mamadakov as Sergeant Kurbanhaliev (Kurbashi)
- Aleksandr Shein as Patefon (as Aleksandr Sheyn)
- Aleksei Kravchenko as Captain Bystrov
- Aleksandr Bashirov as Pomidor
- Mikhail Olegovich Yefremov as Veteran, who gives talisman
- Stanislav Govorukhin as a training regiment commander
- Andrey Kras ko as unknown Colonel in Afgan
- Aleksandr Lykov as Major of combat engineers
- Aleksey Serebryakov as Reconnaissance Captain
- Oles Katsion as Mikhey
- Karen Martirosyan as Ashot
- Marat Gudiev as Akhmet
- Denis Moshkin as 'Chernyy aist' ('the Black Stork')
- Aleksandr Kucherenko as Barber
- Svetlana Ivanova as Olya
- Evgeniy Arutyunyan as Radioman
- Mikhail Vladimirov as Tank driver
- Mikhail Solodko as Military commissariat officer
The film received a mixed reaction from the veterans of that war, who pointed to a number of inaccuracies, but nevertheless, judging by ticket sales, it was embraced by the general public and even by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although first released in 2005, and broadcast on TV in several nations, it was not released in the US until 2010 on DVD.
- Brazil 29 September 2005
- Belarus 29 September 2005
- Kazakhstan 29 September 2005
- Russia 29 September 2005
- Ukraine 29 September 2005
- Estonia 14 October 2005
- Finland 3 March 2006
- France 20 May 2006 (Cannes Film Festival)
- Sweden 11 October 2006 (DVD premiere)
- Poland 12 October 2006 (Warsaw International FilmFest)
- Poland 20 October 2006
- Philippines 3 November 2006 (Cinemanila Film Festival)
- UK 16 February 2007
- France 17 February 2007 (TV premiere)
- Argentina 18 June 2007 (DVD premiere)
- Belgium 12 September 2007
- Netherlands 26 February 2008 (DVD premiere)
- Germany 26 August 2008
- USA 31 August 2010 (DVD and Blu-ray Disc premiere)
In 2006, Russia selected the film as its candidate for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film nomination. It was also given the Golden Eagle Award for Best Feature Film by the Russian Academy of Cinema Arts.
- Schofield, The Russian Elite, Greenhill, 1993, pp. 120-125
- "Putin praise for Russian war film". BBC News. 8 November 2005.
- "Afghanistan War Movie Breaks Russian Box Office Record". Mosnews.com. 2005-10-05.[dead link]