9 Rota (The 9th Company) (2005)
Director: Fyodor Bondarchuk.
Starring: Fyodor Bondarchuk (Khokhol), Aleksei Chadov (Vorobey), Mikhail Yevlanov (Ryaba), Ivan Kokorin (Chugun), Artyom Mikhalkov (Stas), Konstantin Kryukov (Gioconda), Artur Smolyaninov (Lyutyi), Mikhail Porechenkov (Praporshik Dygalo), Irina Rakhmanova (Belosnezhka - 'Snow White'), Aleksei Serebryakov (Kapitan), Mikhail Yefremov (Dembel), Aleksei Kravchenko (Kapitan Bystrov), Andrei Krasko (Kompolka v Afgane), Stanislav Govorukhin (Kompolka v Uchebke), Aleksandr Bashirov (Pomidor).
Russian/Finnish film about Russian soldier fighting in Afghanistan
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
1988. For nine years the USSR has been at war in Afghanistan.
Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, 1988. Day 1. New army recruit Vorobyeu has to say good-bye to his girlfriend. He is just one of the many army recruits set to get on the train to go to basic training. At their new home, the young men get all their hair cut off. One of the fellows, Oleg Lyutaev, is a bit of a tough guy and after he gets his hair cut off, he uses the hair clippers on his barber to take a bit of his hair off in the front.
Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan, Day 3. The recruits land in Uzbekistan. There they meet their drill instructor, the massive-framed Warrant Officer Dygalo. It is his job to get the fellows into shape. The guys go through the training that is pretty standard for the armies. The Soviet Union training, however, allows the use of physical contact, including the striking of recruits by the drill instructor and fighting between recruits. Dygalo oversees Recruit Stas's defeat of Vorobyeu in a fight with bare fists.
The recruits are taught the use of plastid, an explosive that looks and feels like clay. The artistic recruit Petrovsky forms the material into the shape of a penis and the men have some fun at the expense of their explosives teacher.
Dygalo has his unit run up a steep hill. Their assignment is to take the hill. At the top, the trainees get a shock when they are met by a group of soldiers who push them back down the hill. They fail in their mission to take the hill. At the end of the training, the trainees are able to take the hill.
Dygalo wanted to go to Afghanistan with his trainees. He is denied permission and he freaks out. He hits a number of the trainees with his fists, knocking them down. Just before heading for Afghanistan the trainees have sex with a pretty local girl with a bad reputation nicknamed Snow White. The young men have definitely bonded with each other.
Bagram, Afghanistan, Day 153. The new guys coming into Afghanistan meet some veterans heading out of Afghanistan. The vets get on a plane and take-off for home. Their plane, however, is hit by a rocket. The plane tries to make it back to the airport. It succeeds but explodes while landing. Part of the group of new men are sent to the 4th Company, while the rest are put in the 9th Company. Warrant Officer Pogrebnyak of 9th Company greets the new guys. Some of the equipment the men are given is defective. For instance, one of them is given a rifle with a bent barrel.
Anava Outpost, Day 164. The new men are called out to help fire on a group of five or six Afghan soldiers. The vets wanted to kill their arch enemy Akhmet, but failed once again. Vorobyeu, however, accidentally runs into Akhmet at a watering hole. Akhmet speaks with the Soviet soldier in a friendly manner and then starts to slink away. Vorobyeu gets startled and shoots Akhmet in the back.
The men of 9th Company hop on the tanks and are driven out to their new assignment. Arriving at the site, they climb to the top of the heights. There they start to dig in to stay for awhile.
Khost Province, Height 3234, Day 181. The new men see one of their own who went with the 4th Company upon arrival in Afghanistan. There was heavy fighting in the man's area and he was the last survivor of the assault. Stas falls asleep while on sentry duty and is given a beating by his comrades.
Khost Province, Height 3234, Day 210. Petrovsky has the assignment of getting two box of matches for the Warrant Officer even though there are only a few matches left in the company. So he has to accompany an Afghan merchant to the local village. Petrovsky is very nervous about going into the village. When he gets the match boxes, he quickly heads out of the village.
The column of tanks, trucks and helicopters arrives in the area. From the heights along the road, the Afghans attack the convoy. They hit the Soviets very hard and kill quite a few men and destroy a lot of Soviet equipment. The Soviet troops head into the Afghan village. Stas sees a young Afghan boy but relaxes and turns his back to him. The boy grabs an AK-47, shoots and kills the soldier. This unleashes a full-scale destruction of the village by the soldiers.
Day 237. The men of 9th Company steal supplies from the backs of passing trucks.
Khost Province, 3234, New Year's Eve, 1989, Day 267. The men celebrate with a lot of liquor. Petrovsky goes off to sketch a view of the beautiful valley spread out before him. The Afghans come up from behind him and shoot him in the head. Then, with many men, the Afghans attack the Soviet outpost. Many of the men of 9th Company are killed. In another attack Vorobyeu is badly wounded in his legs. Knowing the Afghans are virtually on top of him, he pulls out a grenade and detonates it in his hand when the Afghans reach him.
All the officers are dead. Lyutaev, the tough guy, takes command. He tells his men: "We're fucked." The Afghans attack again. Most of the soldiers are killed. Soviet helicopters arrive to open fire on the Afghans, but they also kill some of their own men. Lyutaev ends up being the last survivor of his company. When the Soviet Colonel arrives Lyutaev tells him that 9th Company has been victorious. The Colonel, however, has to tell Lyutaev that the Soviet army is leaving Afghanistan.
Later Lyutaev learned that Warrant Officer Dygalo was transferred to Tula. He died of a stroke on a night force-march. Snow White and her mother with another group of Russians were moved out of their border town. Soon after they disappeared.
The movie was based on real events of January 8, 1989on the Djardan 3234 heights.
Good war flick. When you get to know the Soviet soldiers, it is hard to see them get killed. I had to keep reminding myself that it was the duty of the Afghans to drive the Soviets out of their country. Since the new soldiers of 9th Company were all volunteers, they fought very well. They were, however, badly outnumbered by the Afghan soldiers in the area. The end result was not that surprising. The Soviets had some tough hombres in the field, but the odds against them were very great.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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