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 HQ Batallón) April 07, 2015

A film about the legendary Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko directed by Ukrainian director Sergei Mokritskiy and shot in Ukraine has topped the Russian box office over the weekend, while also earning critical acclaim.

The film, called The Battle of Sevastopol, retells the story of the woman regarded as the greatest female sniper in history who helped fight off the Axis invasion of the USSR, including the battles of the Ukrainian city of Odessa and the eight month siege of the Crimean city of Sevastopol.

Russian actress Yulia Peresild portrays the film’s main heroine, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who was born in the town of Bila Tserkva in Kiev region, present day Ukraine, and is credited with over 300 kills during WWII. Peresild’s performance has already been applauded as “brilliant” by Russian newspaperKommersant while the film itself has won over critics for its visually striking depiction of the second world war.

Writing for Kommersant, film critic Mikhail Trofimenkov called the picture “the best local film about the second world war in the last quarter century.”

According to Crimean press the film’s theme song - a cover of Kukushka by Soviet rock pioneer Victor Tsoy, performed by Russian singer Polina Gagarina - has already made its way to number three on iTunes Russia. Gagarina’s own original song with which she will represent Russia in Eurovision this year is three places behind. The film’s full soundtrack is to be released later this week and is currently only available for pre-order.

The film has also inspired a smartphone app which combines images of from the movie and provides the reader with historical information about their real-life inspiration, including the stories of Pavlichenko and other characters depicted.

The war drama has also been received well in Ukraine, though there it has been released with a different title - Unbreakable - and a Ukrainian language redub. According to French TV channel Euro News over 100,000 Ukrainians have seen the film since it was released over the weekend.

However Forbes Ukraine laments on the lack of specifically Ukrainian elements in the picture,  writing that despite the number of Ukrainians involved in its making the film’s Ukrainian redub and retitling were the “unfortunately” the only noticeable Ukrainian aspects of the film, although the magazine highlights that Ukrainian experts were behind the film’s striking special effects.

According to the magazine, the production of the film started long before the start of armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine and was finished as relations between the two countries were deteriorating.


Damien Sharkov (www.newsweek.com)

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