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A full-length film released in February 2015 under the title "Battalion", became the first and so far the only war film in the history of Russian cinema that has received more than 30 international awards at various festivals on three continents - in the USA, Europe and Asia! At the same time, this film has caused considerable resonance among critics and discerning viewers. The producer of the film himself, Igor Ugolnikov, believes that Battalion is a kind of ambassador for peace, since the film deals with incompatible things - women and wars.
The idea of creating the film was born after the release of the film "Brest Fortress". Studying the reasons for the outbreak of World War II, the filmmakers found out that its roots go deep into the First World War … In March 1917, by order of the Provisional Government, a female military unit was created to raise the morale of the Russian army, whose soldiers, refusing to fight the Germans, and deserted from the front line. It was this historical fact that was taken as the basis for the plot of the 4-episode film.
For the sake of this military drama by Dmitry Meskhiev, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, all the project participants (about 300 people) were shaved baldly and underwent a real soldier's drill, experiencing all the hardships and deprivations of military service in their own skin. They have become a real example of heroic courage and self-sacrifice. In the film, bright domestic actresses were brought together for the main roles - Maria Aronova, Valeria Shkirando, Maria Kozhevnikova, Yanina Malinchik, Anna Kuznetsova, Mila Makarova, Alena Kuchkova, Irina Rakhmanova, Maria Antonova, Evgenia Natanova and other actresses.
Historical events taken as the basis of the plot of the movie "Battalion"
In Russia at the beginning of 1917, the February revolution radically changed the course of events not only in the protracted hostilities at the front, but also in the life of the country. Emperor Nicholas II abdicated the throne, and power was concentrated in the hands of the Provisional Government … On the fronts, where the exhausting confrontation with the Germans has been going on for more than one year, the Bolsheviks were propagandizing with might and main. The Russian army, plunged into anarchy and chaos, was on the verge of final decay and decay. Soldiers joined the soldiers' committees created by the Bolsheviks, officers were deprived of the right to command, vote, and sometimes even life. Rampant drunkenness and moral decay literally reigned in the trenches on the front lines.
And in order to somehow save the situation, the Provisional Government to raise morale, issues a decree to create a female Death Battalion under the command of the Knight of St. George, Maria Bochkareva. With its service, the battalion had to set an example of bravery, courage and heroism, raise the spirit of the soldiers and prove that each of these female soldiers deserves the title of a soldier of the Russian army.
Hundreds of women of various social strata, from princesses to peasant women, sometimes along with servants, volunteered for the battalion. They took everyone who wanted to serve, but the most enduring remained in the battalion. The women who had passed the preliminary selection were placed under the command of the Knight of St. George, Maria Bochkareva, who, on her own initiative, organized the "suicide bomber" unit. The soldier, as befits in the army, was shaved bald, and black shoulder straps with a red stripe and the emblem in the form of a skull and two crossed bones were sewn onto their tunics, which symbolized "unwillingness to live if Russia dies."
The battalion commander, Maria Bochkareva, who came to the front in 1914, was a legendary person, despite the fact that her life began in a very banal way. At the age of 15, she was married to a drunkard, having escaped from whom, she tried female happiness with her second husband. But, alas, she did not find him with him either: her husband traded in robbery, and also often "rewarded" his wife with beatings, and then was completely convicted of banditry. When the First World War began, Maria left to defend the Motherland - the only thing she had left. After a while, Bochkareva admitted that the most joyful days of her hard life were precisely the years of service at the front.
Read more about the fate of this heroic woman: Just Maria: Russian Jeanne d'Arc and her female death squad.
In June 1917, Maria Bochkareva formed a women's "death battalion" from young ladies who had withstood military training, trained and ready to lead the general offensive of the Russian army. Rather, they were to become a moral example for male warriors. Maria stated so:
Before being sent to the front, the battalion numbered about 300 people. Seeing off the legendary unit, called the 1st Petrograd Women's Death Shock Battalion, was indicative and pompous. He was solemnly presented with a specially made banner - a golden cloth with a black cross and the inscription: "The first female military command of the death of Maria Bochkareva." Bochkarev herself was promoted to ensign, and General Kornilov handed the courageous woman an officer's saber.
By the end of June, the battalion became part of the 525th Infantry Regiment, and at the beginning of July, women went into battle for the first time, in which the battalion suffered losses: 30 killed and 70 wounded. Nevertheless, the soldiers showed true heroism, courage and courage - the German fortifications were captured.
However, despite the successful military debut, the further use of female units in battles was considered inexpedient and he did not participate in active hostilities anymore. And the battalion entered the history of the First World War as the only female unit that, under the command of a female officer, fought on the Russian-German front. Maria Bochkareva was promoted, her photographs did not leave the pages of Russian newspapers and magazines. The further fate of the heroic woman was sad: she was shot by the Chekists in 1919 for cooperation with the White Guards.
By the way, by the end of 1917, there were several more female units in the Russian army, which they wanted to set as an example for our demoralized units, but they were not involved in the combat lines.
K / f "Battalion" (2015)
It is about this unprecedented event in world history - the Women's Death Battalion - that the historical 4-episode film "Battalion" was filmed. The film, released on February 20, 2015, caused a huge response. Disputes about how the events reflected in it are so reliable and truthful do not subside until now. Opinions of both critics and viewers were polarized. The producer of the film himself, Igor Ugolnikov, claims:
In this war drama, both the "stars" of the cinema, and theatrical and non-professional actresses were filmed. For a long time, the creators of the picture tried to select the cast on the principle of not only external resemblance to the soldiers of the First World War (of course, many photographs have survived since those times), but also those that would correspond to the spirit of that rebellious time.
The main cast of the main characters and about 200 girls from the crowd lived during the filming in one camp in rather harsh conditions. Needless to say, what tests, what physical activities the actresses had to endure, transforming into the images of their prototypes. What was only worth deciding on a mass tonsure. It was one of the most touching and impressive moments of filming … The girls had their hair cut right in the frame, many had tears in their eyes. Moreover, the haircut was not done with electric razors, but with real German clippers from the beginning of the last century. The blades have, of course, been replaced with modern ones.
By the way, in order to support the spirit of the actresses, some members of the film crew, including director Dmitry Meskhiev, also shaved their heads.
Actress Maria Aronova, who played the role of the main character - Maria Bochkareva, canceled almost all of her performances in advance, and plunged into the filming process.
Curiously, the initially striking role of Countess Natalya Tatishcheva, played by Maria Kozhevnikova, was much richer. But already during the trial filming, it turned out that Kozhevnikova was pregnant. (Filming began almost immediately after her wedding.) And the actress had to be removed from the scenes of military battles, which required serious physical activity.
Many believe that the film is literally saturated with excessive pathos and inconsistency of historical facts, pretense and unreality of some moments. However, despite the flurry of indignation and accusations, this film received more than 30 awards and nominations at many film festivals held both in Russia and in the USA, Western Europe and Asia. Here is a short list of nominations: Best Drama Film, Best Director (Dmitry Meskhiev), Best Screenplay (Ilya Avramenko), Best Actress (Maria Aronova), Best Supporting Actress (Maria Kozhevnikova), Best Debut (Yanina Malinchik), Best Producer, Best Film Editing, Best Film Score, Best Sound Engineer, Best Cinematography.
According to the creators of the picture themselves, "Battalion" is a film about a war with a woman's face. And this face is beautiful no matter what.
Continuing the heroic feminine theme, read: 8 Legendary Women of the First World War: Military Feats and Post-War Fate.