‘War is barbaric!’
Two films based on Alexey Dudarev’s scripts shot by Belarusfilm National Cinema Studio
By Natalia Ivanovskaya
Two films based on famous Belarusian playwright Alexey Dudarev’s scripts are being shot in Belarus: Don’t Leave Me is based on his play of the same title while Belye Rosy-2 is a continuation of his famous story about the Khodos family, thirty years on.
Don’t Leave Me
Shot by Alexander Franskevich-Laye, known for In June 1941, which brought him the Presidential Award.
Alexander, why have you returned to the theme of war?
It’s not easy to shot a war film but it’s always interesting. Naturally, they’re full of drama and human emotions. However, ‘Don’t Leave Me’ isn’t really a war film, as it only has explosions and shooting in the final scene. It’s rather a war story, focusing on the fates of its major characters.
Four slight yet courageous girls launch Operation Bagration, losing their lives in the process. The campaign of summer 1944 was a breaking point in the Great Patriotic War and the film covers a period of two weeks. Led by Captain Mikhasev, a group prepare to infiltrate a German communication point and set explosives, with the girls posing as actresses. To complicate matters, a love story develops.
Why do you use Belarus so often for shooting?
It’s convenient, as you still have machinery, weapons and costumes from those times. Moreover, it’s easy to quickly move from one place to another within the country.
It’s probably cheaper to shoot here…
Not really — everything costs something. However, the traffic is much lighter than Moscow, where you can waste hours changing location. In Belarus, it can take just half an hour to move to a new spot.
We return to the Khodos family, in a film shot by a young Alexander Butor, who is known for his music videos and TV projects. Belarusfilm General Director Oleg Silvanovich liked Alexander’s idea for the film and, despite some initial feelings of reservation from Mr. Dudarev, the latter was eventually convinced to alter his script.
In Belye Rosy-2, elder son Andrey is now the head of the family and, tired of city life, he moves to the village. His peace is soon disturbed by the arrival of young businessmen who have plans to build a modern spa in the picturesque spot. Sadly, their plan also involves ousting local villagers. Mr. Khodos attempts to oppose them, defending the village’s identity and tranquillity.
Several famous Russian actors are among the cast: Andrey Merzlikin and Galina Polskikh, with Juozas Budraitis in the lead role. Pleasingly, Belarusian Pavel Kharlanchuk, Sergey Zhbankov and Yulia Smirnova also play significant roles.
The film will be screened next spring.
I wrote Belye Rosy-2 in 2010, simply at my own initiative, although I’m usually against remakes. However, I was keen to continue the fate of Belye Rosy and it took me a month to write the script. I’m pleased that Belarusfilm showed interest in my work; the life of the village and of the Khodos family never ends.
Don’t Leave Me had been staged in theatres in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and, on seeing it, Mr. Franskevich-Laye was filled with a desire to film it for the big screen. We’d known each other for some time and I know that the theme is one he finds painful, since war is barbaric. It’s even more awful when women are involved. In the film, young girls — future mothers — are sent to their death with no real understanding of the danger. The director became interested in the idea and asked me for a script which differs from the theatrical performance. I wrote it for him and we changed a few elements after discussion. You’ll see the result on screen.