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Clipped wings and field romances. Soviet films about female pilots in the Great Patriotic War
Clipped wings and field romances. Soviet films about female pilots in the Great Patriotic War
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Clipped wings and field romances. Soviet films about female pilots in the Great Patriotic War
Clipped wings and field romances. Soviet films about female pilots in the Great Patriotic War

From 500,000 to a million women - so many served at the front in different periods of the Great Patriotic War. Perhaps the most legendary of the Soviet female warriors are pilots. One night bomber regiment, one fighter and one high-speed bomber. The girls in the sky terrified the enemy. Unsurprisingly, their feat is immortalized in at least five Soviet films.

"Heavenly Slow", comedy, 1945

The renowned pilot Bulochkin, due to injury, was redirected to a night bomber regiment and now flies on completely unheroic-looking light aircraft. In a new place, he meets the bomber pilots and introduces them to his two best loyal friends. Meanwhile, a young correspondent arrived at the front. In short, everyone falls in love with each other.

The film was shot on fresh tracks, so the emphasis in it is not on the heroism of pilots in such, according to traditional views, a non-female profession. On the contrary, their feat is everyday. They are professional, and it never occurs to anyone to ask how it happened. We got used to it during the war.

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On the set of the film, the performers of the roles of Bulochkin and correspondent Petrova really fell in love, got married and lived together for twelve years. The backup actors in the air were real military pilots who had just returned from the front, they also acted as consultants.

In 1970, several scenes were cut from the film, shortening it by 10 minutes. For example, three scenes permeated with a playful mood disappeared - flirting with a nurse, a flirtatious dance of Clouds and Kutuzova, and memories of a doctor performed by Raevskaya about past novels. By the way, the pilot Tucha as a character appears again in a children's film thirty years later! Performed by the same actor.

The movie now has a colorized version
The movie now has a colorized version

"Wings", psychological drama, 1966

A simple director of the educational institution, Nadezhda Petrukhina, served in a mixed aviation regiment during the war. After the victory, women were no longer allowed into the aviation. But departures are not only the worst thing that Nadezhda remembers, but also the most beautiful. She is haunted by a longing for the sky and haunting memories of the war. The ban on women from pursuing a career in aviation literally cut her wings. In the end, Petrukhina decides to hijack a training plane. Just be in the sky one more time.

During the war years, Nadezhda served in the air regiment. Still from the film
During the war years, Nadezhda served in the air regiment. Still from the film

The film stayed in the Soviet box office for only three days. But he was not banned! It was just that the distributors thought that he would not make the box office, so rare screenings in clubs and at themed evenings became the lot of the picture for many years. The drama is built typical of the auteur cinema of the sixties (as far as can be considered auteur cinema, non-format films, nevertheless, paid for by the state) - without a linear narrative. The heroine's past is built on snatches of conversations, memories, visual hints. The camera often comes from the heroine's face, from her eyes - at what she is looking at, as if silently turning her into the main contemplator, more important than the viewer on the other side of the screen.

Actress Maya Bulgakova stunningly played a person with PTSD after the war, and she has seen such people many times in her life. Still from the film
Actress Maya Bulgakova stunningly played a person with PTSD after the war, and she has seen such people many times in her life. Still from the film

Nadezhda has a hard and painful look at the same time - the actress, who did not fight herself, was able to capture and convey this expression of the eyes of those whose souls were burned by the battles. One of the most dramatic scenes is when Nadezhda wanders around the local history museum and hears how, at the stand dedicated to her exploits, they say that she has died. Observers of Soviet cinema consider the film one of the best female films (that is, filmed by a woman and about a woman at the same time) in the twentieth century.

One Thousand Nights, Documentary, 1970

Sergei Aranovich has been ill with the sky since childhood, he wanted to become a pilot. And definitely something extraordinary! So he graduated from the Institute of Naval Aviation, began to serve in the Arctic Circle. But six years later he had a serious accident, he was treated for a long time, and he had to change his profession. Sergei became a director. Of course, I could not pass by the theme of "Night Witches": I shot a documentary about them.

The memories of the pilots are read out by the actresses-announcers in the first person, which turns the film into an almost fictional one
The memories of the pilots are read out by the actresses-announcers in the first person, which turns the film into an almost fictional one

In the frame - not only the names of the pilots, but also their activities before the war. An astronomer, an aviation club instructor, a future doctor, a student of a flight school … Each of them was preparing for a peaceful life, to bring daily benefits, or was already living for herself and people. Memories from the first person and footage of the military chronicle. Perhaps this film is the most complete study during the lifetime of those pilots who returned from the front, moreover, served so artistically that it seems like a cinematic poem.

"Only old men go to battle", drama, 1973

The plot of the picture revolves around military male pilots, but the fate and feat of the pilots are especially noted in it. A light night bomber makes an emergency landing at the airfield; inside - girls named Zoya and Masha. Masha falls in love with one of the male pilots, and he reciprocates her.

Even in war you want to fall in love. Still from the film
Even in war you want to fall in love. Still from the film

For the next concert, the squadron invites a female air regiment stationed nearby. Pilots in love decide to marry and ask permission to do so. But alas, the groom is mortally wounded in battle. When friends go to inform the bride about his death, they find out that she also died.

This short appearance of the pilots in the picture captivates with the simplicity of presentation, without drama beyond what any death of young people is, without endless surprise that a woman can conquer the sky and fight.

Pilots Zoya and Masha, Still from the film
Pilots Zoya and Masha, Still from the film

READ ALSO: "Only old men go to battle": Real stories and mystical coincidences associated with the film by Leonid Bykov >>

"Night Witches" in the sky ", drama, 1981

The first feature film dedicated to the very legendary aviation regiment. And no wonder! It was removed by the former "night witch" Yevgeny Zhigulenko, who once returned from the front with the rank of Guards Major and Hero of the Soviet Union. She really wanted to capture the fate of her friends, as only those who were around knew them. Time was running out, and veterans were also passing away …

The film about female pilots was shot by one of the famous female pilots
The film about female pilots was shot by one of the famous female pilots

Already in our time, viewers who do not know that an eyewitness and a participant in the events filmed the picture sometimes undertake to assert that many of the scenes shown are unrealistic. Ladies? Were carrying a hundred-kilogram bombs? What nonsense is it? But that's how it was. Others enlighten that the pilots did not like the nickname "night witches", it insults their femininity and kindness. But the director is proud of him, and probably her friends were proud too.

How you want the memory of what they did for their descendants to always be alive "Night witches" and other Soviet pilots who were feared by the Germans.

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