Bitva za Sevastopol (Battle for Sevastopol) (2015)

 

 

Director:      .

Starring:     Yuliya Peresild (Lyudmila Pavlichenko), Evgeniy Tsyganov (Leonid Kitsenko),  Joan Blackham (Eleanora Ruzvelt), Anatoliy Kot (Nikolay), Oleg Vasilkov (Makarov), Nikita Tarasov (Chopak), Stanislav Boklan (otets Lyudmily).

Lyudmila Pavlichenko, legendary female sniper

 

Spoiler Warning:

 

Moscow, Vnukovo Airport, 1957.  Eleanor Roosevelt arrives in Moscow from the United States.  A Russian official, Mr. James, sits in the limousine with Mrs. Roosevelt and tells her that Mr. Krushvhev has invited her to a solemn reception in honor of her arrival in the Soviet Union.  Mrs. Roosevelt, however, wants to go meet a woman first.  Mr. James protests but Mrs. Roosevelt is determined to visit the woman first.  She says she will introduce the woman to Mr. James. 

Mrs. Roosevelt says she first saw Lyudmila in 1942 at the Student Assembly.  She was just a young girl, but she impressed Mrs. Roosevelt.  The first lady was meeting heroes of the Red Army in fights against the Germans.  Lyudmila introduces herself as sublieutenant Lyudmila Pavlicheko.  Mrs. Roosevelt is amazed to find out that this young girl was a sniper  --  a sniper who has killed 309 fascists.  The first lady asks how did she feel as she killed the enemy? 

Flashback.  Kiev State University, 1937.  Student Lyudmila passes her courses and is happy, but happy in a very subdued way.  She goes home and asks if her mother will allow her to wear one of mom's fancy dresses?  Yes.   Her father, a soldier in uniform, comes home and sees his daughter all dressed up.   Lyudmila tells him that she was accepted.  In fact, her name was first on the list.  Lyudmila is disappointed when her father acts like it's no big deal and Lyudmila tells him that at least, he should be proud of her.  Mother scolds her husband for not being gentle with Lyudmila.  Lyudmila wants her father to be at tonight's celebratory dinner for her being admitted.  Dad is not gentle with his daughter.  He says he has to report for duty.  He leaves the apartment.

Lyudmila wants to do some firing at the rifle range.  The guys laugh at her but she demands to be allowed to shoot.  Lyudmila wins the shooting contest. 

Lyudmila is called out of her class to come see the rector.  The rector says that her shooting abilities have earned her some notoriety.  So, they have decided to send Lyudmila to a 6 month course for shooters.  Then she can come back and rejoin her studies.  Lyudmila asks if she can say no to the offer.  She is told that they would not advise that.

Lyudmila gets ready to head out for her training.  She refuses to say goodbye to her father.  She leaves.  Mother complains that dad made a boy out of their girl and now dad sees what has happened.  Dad says:  "At war the worst happens to women.  And soon there will be another war."

At a Student Assembly, Lyudmila is asked to say something to the assembly.   She is reluctant, so Mrs. Roosevelt gets up to say something.  But then Lyudmila gets up and, speaking of the United States, says: "It is useful to have friends who can give you weapons.  But it is even better, when you have friends who take their weapons and fight side by side with you."

Lyudmila and her friend Masha are studying in the library, but the librarians tell them to go down to the beach where they can meet some eligible military men.  So the girls go down to the beach.  There they meet two military men, Kolya and Grisha.  Then they meet another man, named Boris, a doctor who is the brother of a female friend named Sonia of the two girls.  Sonia wants to match up her brother with Lyudmila, so she takes Masha with her to go wading in the water.  Kolya and Grisha invite the girls and Boris to a celebration of their victory at beach volley ball.  They all have a drink. After that Lyudmila  goes with Boris and Sonia over to their parent's house for lunch.  Masha goes with the two military men.  She gets attached to one of them, Grisha. 

At the lunch, the parents ask Lyudmila a lot of personal questions, but Lyudmila doesn't mind. They are interrupted by the news that Nazi Germany has attacked the Soviet Union.  Zhitomir and Kiev were bombed. Sevastopol, Kaunas . . .   The Germans also attacked from Romania and Finnish territory. In the evening, Lyudmila goes to a play with Boris, but she can only think of the war and her duty.  She leaves Boris behind to report for military duty. 

USSR Embassy in the USA, 1942.  Lyudmila tells a male Russian soldier that there is a war going on in the Soviet Union.  They are interrupted by two embassy males wanting to know from Lyudmila what did she say to Mrs. Roosevelt, because Mrs.  Eleanor Roosevelt has invited Miss Pavlichenko to live in the White House during her visit to the United States.  And the invitation was only for Pavlichenko.  Lyudmila says:  "I can stay here."   The men tell her that she may decide for herself.

Lyudmila decides to go the White House.  Mrs. Roosevelt says that she wanted to understand Lyudmila as a woman.  "How can you kill 309 people? . . .  This is not the work of a woman."

Flashback.  Training Camp.  Summer of 1941.  The first task of a sniper is to be out in position unwitnessed.  For this, the sniper must learn how to crawl.  The drill sergeant goes through the women's belongings and pulls out all the feminine articles.  Hen the lines the women up with their feminine belongings and asks them:  "And how are you going to fight using that?"   The male soldiers laugh at the women, but the drill sergeant nips that in the bud.  He says that none of the soldiers, male or female, seem to realize just how serious their situation is.  The Germans have taken Zhitomir, Riga, Kiev and Leningrad.  He says if the soldiers do not wise up, it's going to be them who are killed at the front and not the Germans.  He then makes the women burn their feminine things. 

The training is rough on the snipers.  During the training, the drill sergeant is shown an order to take his snipers to the front.  The drill instructor says the men are ready to go, but he needs to teach the women some more valuable lessons. He hasn't had the women shoot yet.  The officer tells the instructor that all his people are already good shooters from previous trainings.  So, the instructor will give up his students.  The instructor puts in a good word for soldier Pavlichenko and asks that they watch out for her, for she will be at war more than the officers will be. 

Odessa, Ukraine [located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea near the country of Moldova], September 1941.  Pavlichenko is at the front with German airplanes bombing the Russians followed by the coming of the German tanks.  A piece of German equipment is broken lose and comes hurdling down toward Pavlichenko's position.  She does her best to get out of the way of the debris, but, where it lands, it almost crushes her face and skull.   That really frightened her. 

Lyudmila is very scared, but she overcomes it.  She returns to her position, gets her weapon and starts firing at the tank driver.  She badly wounds the driver on her second shot, after breaking the glass of the driver's window.  Men are dying all around her.  She starts shooting the German infantry soldiers. 

The Russians maintain their ground.  The captain comes over to check on Lyudmila.  She is badly shaken, but functioning. 

Lyudmila wins an award for taking out the tank.  The captain is told to make sure he keeps an eye on Lyudmila, a hero soldier of a hero soldier father. 

Lyudmila asks the captain if he has a wife.  He tells her that he is divorced.  Suddenly, Lyudmila hears Masha calling for her.  She runs to greet her.  They hug each other with great joy.  Masha sees the captain looking at them and asks Lyudmila if the man is hers.  Lyudmila says: "He will be mine."

Odessa, September 1941. Lyudmila continues to rack up the number of her kills. Orders come in to start the preparations for the evacuation of troops to the Crimea.  The troops will gather at the port.  The captain's task is to hide them.  The captain is upset that they are leaving Odessa to the Germans. 

Masha is reunited with Grisha.  Grisha's friend is there with him and he tries to kiss Lyudmila.  Lyudmila pushes the man off her.  The captain shows up and Lyudmila tells him that he doesn't have to rescue her that often.  The captain is hurt and walks away.  Lyudmila feels badly about it and goes after him.  She catches up with him and kisses him, but he does not respond to her. 

Now Lyudmila is mad at the captain.  He tries to shovel her fox hole for her, but she does not respond.  He explains why he didn't return her kiss last night.  He is afraid she will be killed.  Lyudmila tells him that he is a coward. "You must believe that they are not going to kill us."  As the captain walks away, an explosion knocks the captain over.  He gets up and runs back to Lyudmila.  He has to dig Lyudmila out of her foxhole.  He takes her to the doctor, who turns out be be Boris Larionovich.  When she awakens, she tells the captain that she loves him. He urges her to sleep.  Boris tells the captain that he loves Lyudmila too and will take good care of her.

The White House, 1942.  Lyudmila shows Mrs. Roosevelt how to make Borscht.  The first lady drops a frying pan and it makes a lot of noise.  This scares Lyudmila and she ducks behind the kitchen counter.  Mrs. Roosevelt goes to her and asks Lyudmila to tell her what happened to her.  Lyudmila replies:  "I fell after an explosion and almost died."   Mrs. Roosevelt is very compassionate with Lyudmila. 

Evacuation to Sevastopol.  Fall 1941.  German planes attack the Soviet ships killing many people on the ship decks. Lyudmila is very afraid.  Masha tends to her telling her not be afraid.  Lyudmila tells Boris to fix her up now so she can go back to fighting. 

Headquarters of Sevastopol.  Defensive area, November 1941.   Lyudmila reports to a friend, Ivan Evimovich, Gen. Petrov.  He signs her certificate that says she is healthy. 

Petrov tells the officers in the briefing room that the first line of defense now is 13 km away from Sevastopol. The city is vulnerable to German artillery. They cannot repel the enemy beyond the city.

Lyudmila looks for her captain, but finds out that the captain was killed in action.  A friend gives Lyudmila the captain's rifle.  Now Lyudsmila gets Boris to sign her health certificate.  She kisses him for this.

The White House, USA, 1942.  Mrs. Roosevelt presents Lyudmila with a pretty dress.  She wants the gentlemen to see the woman in the stern Lyudmila.  

Odessa.  Captain Leonid Kitsenko is Lyudmila's new boss.  Lyudmila is back at her sniper job.  The captain tells her to kill with one shot rather than put three shots into the target.  Cruelty will make her too much like the fascists.

Lyudmila really loves her job.  Meanwhile, the captain begins to be captivated by Lyudmila. 

Sevastopol will live! Free from the Germans. Happy New Year, 1942!  Captain Kitsenko kisses Lyudmila a Happy New Year kiss.  In private they kiss some more.  Later, they have sex together.

Chicago, USA. 1942.  Lyudmila is starting to be treated as a hero in the United States.  She gets offers of a million dollars for letting advertisers use her picture. 

Sevastopol, Spring 1942.  Masha and Grisha were supposed to be married, but on their wedding day Grisha is killed in action. Lyudmila cries for her friend.  In private she tells her captain that she wants a son.

Back in the USA, her Soviet manager scolds her for not appearing in her uniform.  He says she should only be thinking of Stalin, her country and the west opening a second front.  The manager leaves the room.  Mrs. Roosevelt wants to comfort her and discovers that her back has been scarred up.  She tells Lyudmila that her fellow soldiers should have protected her. 

Sevastopol, summer 1942.  Captain Kitsenko, walking through an orchard, steps on a flare that shoots up into the sky.  German artillery shells start falling just behind them and the captain and Lyudmila start running for their lives.  Lyudmila falls down and the captain jumps on her back to protect her.  The captain is hit badly and Lyudmila drags him behind her.  As she nears the Russian lines, she yells out for help. She wakes up in a hospital bed with wounds on her back. Boris takes care of her.  He tells her that her captain is dead.  And now the Soviets will use Lyudmila as the hero that she is.  But, first, they want her to kill one of the top German snipers, Otto von Singer.  At first, she says no, but the officer convinces her to do it in memory of Captain Kitsenko.

Lyudmila is back at her sniper job and out there too is Otto von Singer.  Lyudmila makes herself very visible. She then sees him move to shoot her and she shoots him dead.

Boris pleads with Gen. Petrov that Lyudmila must be taken off the front lines.  Boris gets her out.  She is put onto a Russian submarine.  She is upset that Boris is not going with her.  He tells her that he will go on the next steamer:  "I am a Jew from Odessa.  I will get away."

Mrs. Roosevelt says:  "Lyudmila opened one of the most terrible pages of this great war.  The defense of Sevastopol lasted 250 days, but the city still was captured by the enemy.  The evacuation of troops and citizens was not organized.  General Petrov and several dozens of officers of the command were evacuated on boats. The total amount evacuated by submarines, aircraft, and boats from Sevastopol to the Caucasus was three thousand people.  Admiral Oktyabarski was evacuated by plane. It was a miracle that Lyudmila was saved.  Boris rescued her.  A man who has never managed to make a proposal.  He gave her his pass and an opportunity for a future life.  Boris, who loved Lyudmila, her friend Masha and about 80,000 inhabitants and defenders of Sevastopol remained on the ground fighting the enemy.  They were sentenced to death or captivity.  Lyuda often told me, that they were all heroes."

In her speech in Chicago, Lyudmila says:  "Gentlemen, I am 25 years old.  And I have killed 309 fascist occupants by now  Do you think, gentlemen that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?"  She gets a strong round of applause.

Mrs. Roosevelt says:  "We became friends.  From the letters I know that she didn't return to the front.  She worked as an instructor in a sniper school.  After the war, Lyudmila finished a college.  She was awarded the highest rank: Hero of the Soviet Union."

Moscow, 1957.  Mrs. Roosevelt says:  "She won all the wars.  As a soldier, as a diplomat and as a woman.  I want to see her son.  I have a present for him.  I'm sure he looks just like her."  Mr. James replies:  "Yes, Mr. Khrushchev can wait." 

Mrs. Roosevelt goes to the ballet with Lyudmila and her son.

 

Good movie.  We don't see many movies about women sniper.  In 2016 combat roles have been opened to women.  In the future we will probably see movies about female American snipers.  Yuliya Peresild (as Lyudmila Pavlichenko) was good, but her role was of a tough, stern woman, which limited her opportunities to display a wider set of feelings.  Joan Blackham (as Eleanore Roosevelt) was good in her part.

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background (Wikipedia):

22 June 1941   --  Axis invades the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa.

autumn 1941  -- Axis land forces reached the Crimea and overran most of the area. The only objective not in Axis hands was Sevastopol.

October and November 1941  --  several attempts were made to secure the city.  A major attack was planned for late November, but heavy rains delayed the Axis attack.

17 December 1941  --  under the command of Erich von Manstein, Axis forces were unable to capture Sevastopol during their first operation.

December 1941  --  Soviet forces launch an amphibious landing on the Crimean peninsula at Kerch to relieve the siege and force the Axis to divert forces to defend their gains. The operation saved Sevastopol for the time being.

May 1942  -- the bridgehead in the eastern Crimea was eliminated.

until the middle of 1942  --  after the failure of their first assault on Sevastopol, the Axis opted to conduct siege warfare on Sevastopol.

middle of 1942  --  the Germans attacked the encircled Soviet forces by land, sea, and air.

2 June 1942  --  the Axis began their operation, codenamed Störfang (Sturgeon Catch). The Soviet Red Army and Black Sea Fleet held out for weeks under intense Axis bombardment. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) played a vital part in the siege.

4 July 1942  --  the remaining Soviet forces surrendered and the Axis seized the port. Both sides had suffered considerable losses during the siege and attack.

The Germans suffered 17,123 killed or missing and the 45,675 wounded.

The Russians suffered at least 18,000 killed and 5,000 wounded. 95,000 captured. (2/3s wounded).

 

 

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