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Film about WWII sniper ‘Lady Death’ kicks off ‘2019 Russian Film Exhibition’ in Beijing


From spring to winter, Lyudmila and her beloved Leonid stay together day and night, working in tandem to shoot the enemy. Everyone thinks they are the perfect sniper couple, until one day Leonid sacrifices his life by throwing his body on Lyudmila's to protect her from a flare he triggered by accident. She cries and screams her lover's name until her voice turns hoarse…

The scene of the desperate woman moves the audience in the movie house to tears.

The opening film for the 2019 Russian Film Exhibition that kicked off on Tuesday at the China National Film Museum in Beijing, Russian film Battle for Sevastopol won a round of applause from Chinese movie fans.

The biographical war film depicts the real story of Soviet Russia's deadliest sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, during World War II. With 309 confirmed kills, she is the most successful female sniper in history, earning her the nickname "Lady Death." A Ukrainian-Russian co-production, the film was a huge success at the Russian box office, earning $8,702,274.

Touching feminism

"I couldn't help but weep when I saw all the many tragedies the sniper, Lyudmila, suffered throughout her life. The scene in which Leonid's blood flows down Lyudmila's face after he jumps to protect her stabbed me deep in the heart," Zhang Xiaopeng, a 41-year-old woman living in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Zhang noted that Soviet culture had a huge influence on her and her parents' generation, and that she has watched a lot of war films, but this one felt very fresh since it was filmed from the perspective of a woman.

"The most impressive part of the movie to me is that the director managed to depict grand topic of war through such a little figure, a woman, with delicate and clear shots, which is very different from the grand scenes on display in Chinese war films. In Chinese films, the directors pay more attention to the entire picture and like to make a lot of people appear in one shot to express the horrors of war, but I think the detailed scenes in Battle for Sevastopol look more realistic," Zhang said.

The film has a 7.5/10 score on Chinese media review site Douban, with many reviews praising one particular line from the film: "Gentlemen, I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist occupants by now. Don't you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?".

"This movie was filmed from a perspective of a woman, and conveys the message that women perform great during the war. We have our current stable lives thanks to the great contributions and spirit of sacrifice of the heroine in the war," Russian actor Nikita Tarasov, who plays one of the protagonists in the film, told the Global Times on Tuesday. He noted that World War II was devastating for nearly every Russian family, and that one of his young relatives died during the war.

"War is cruel, but people still support and care for each other, which is the theme that the movie wants to express to the audience," Tarasov said, adding that the love in the film is very rare in today's modern life.

"The military doctor's love for Lyudmila was pure. They could not see each other often, but his love was always so strong, and in the end, he used his travel permit to send Lyudmila back to a safe boat while he stayed behind in a hopeless region in the war."

Future cooperation

Tarasov pointed out that he thinks that Chinese audiences will be able to understand the film even though it is in Russian.

"Many audiences, including those in Europe and Asia, shed tears while watching the film because the theme of the film is about humanity. It can touch everyone," Tarasov said.

He also noted that he looks forward to cooperating with Chinese actors in the future.

"China also joined in World War II and I am sure we can co-produce some wonderful films around this theme."

"The film industry between China and Russia has long-term and good exchanges and cooperation, and we have participated in international film festivals held by each other a lot of times. Film plays a role as a messenger and bridge between the people of the two countries, and we hope to promote a stronger and longer-lasting friendship between the two countries through cultural exchanges," said Tang Kaiwen, the curator of the China National Film Museum, at the opening ceremony of the exhibition on Tuesday.

As an important cultural event for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Russia diplomatic relations, the film exhibition will show eight outstanding Russian films covering comedy, fantasy and war including Battle for Sevastopol, Tank and A Rough Draft, from Tuesday to Sunday.

Global Times

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