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News

One of the Best Films about the Great Patriotic War

29.05.2019

45 years ago, late in May 1974, near Melologovsky Village, the Volgograd Region, the film director Sergey Bondarchuk started the filming “They Fought for Their Country” based on the title unfinished novel by M.A.Sholokhov. According to many viewers this film even now is one of the best films about the Great Patriotic War.

When the filming began, S.F.Bondarchuk said in one of the interviews, that long before, he had decided to film Sholokhov’s novel, talked to M.A.Sholokhov about it and the writer supported him with enthusiasm. It took them long to chose the site for shooting, and Mikhail Alexandrovich showed it. The success of the film depended on the selection of the performers for the main roles. Bondarchuk managed to gather such actors who were able to personalize Sholokhov’s images in cinema. Vasily Shukshin (Pyotr Lopakhin), Georgy Burkov (Alexander Kopytovsky), Vyacheslav Tikhonov (Nikolay Streltsov), Ivan Lapikov (petty officer Poprishchenko), Yury Nikulin (soldier Nekrasov), Sergey Bondarchuk (Ivan Zvyagintsev), Angelina Stepanova (a Cossack old woman), Lidiya Fedoseyeva-Shukshina ( Glasha) and other masters of the national cinema did not perform, but lived the lives of their personages.

On July 10, 1974, during the break in filming, about 10 persons of the film crew visited M.A.Sholokhov in Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya. On that day the writer talked with S.F.Bondarchuk and V.M.Shukshin. Shukshin, who met with the author of “And Quiet Flows the Don”, for the first time, said: “For me Sholokhov is a personification of the chronicler…”

A special regiment of military personnel was formed to be involved in the shooting for taking part in the mass scenes and giving assistance in the organization of “fighting operations”. The field shooting took place in the sites of real battles, near a small village of Melologovsky. For shooting it was added with new houses, which then “burned in the fire of the war”.

The film director S.F.Bondarchuk again showed himself a master of battle scenes. During the summer hot days, in the Don steppe dried up by the winds and the sun, he managed to organize the work of the whole film crew, and by the end of September the main episodes of the film had been made.

On the first of October, there happened a trouble: at night, in the cabin of the river hotel, V.M.Shukshin died. The colleagues survived an unexpected blow very

hard, but the filming crew did not stop working: all they realized that the film was to have been ready by the next spring, the 30th anniversary of Victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War. M.A.Sholokhov later said about it: “…Vasily Shukshin is very good in the film… I am very sorry for him… He could do a lot more…”

The debut film screening “They Fought for Their Country” took place in May 1975, and during the first year of the film run it was watched by over 40 million viewers. It was a great success.

According to the “Sovetsky Ekran” magazine poll, the film “They Fought for Their Country” was voted “The Best Film of the Year”. The best actor of the year was Vasily Shukshin.

The film was awarded the RSFSR State Prize named after Vasilyev Brothers. As well, the laureates of this prize were the film director S.Bondarchuk and the cameraman V.Yusov. At the XX International film festival in Karlovy Vary the film was awarded the prize of the Union of Anti-Fascist Fighters of Czechoslovakia, and the XVI film festival in Panama awarded S.Bondarchuk for the best directorial work, 27 performers of the male soldier roles for the best acting work and Tatyana Bozhok for the role of a nurse.

A sculptural composition based on the film was opened on November 30, 2016, in Moscow, at Frunzenskaya Embankment near the building of the Ministry of Defence of Russia.

The film is shown in the online cinema of the “Mosfilm” studio.

 

Larisa Bukina