Bochkareva’s battalion fought near Smorgon
Minskers enjoy premiere of Igor Ugolnikov’s military-historical drama Battalion, at Moskva Cinema
Mr. Ugolnikov tells us, “After screening my Brest Fortress, I began thinking about the origins of the Second World War, realising that it was a continuation of unfinished business from the First World War.”
The film shows the history of the women’s ‘death battalion’ — established by the Interim Government to lift morale. The battalion was under the command of Maria Bochkareva, who held the full cavalier of St. George Order.
Mr. Ugolnikov believes that, if the film had been made two or three years ago, it would have been less relevant and instructive. “This is a unique story: women went to war to defend the Fatherland where men could not,” he explains. The actresses taking part were all required to cut their hair short for their roles: not only the leads but all those appearing in crowd scenes and cameo parts.
Authenticity is vital to a film, so costumes and weapons were chosen carefully. Even the sound of bells was original. Mr. Ugolnikov tells us that the creation of the trenches was perhaps the most difficult aspect, since Russian and German facilities differed greatly. He adds, “Belarusians are a unique audience. Minsk is my second home, to which I feel special gratitude; this inspired my desire to premiere the film first in Minsk. Bochkareva’s battalion fought near Smorgon.”
Yanina Malinchik, who plays a leading role, emphasises that much of the acting came easily once they were in costume and sitting in cold and dirty trenches. All the actresses underwent basic training, being taught how to hold rifles, conduct close fighting and march in step.
By Anastasia Shoplya