Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Soviet-Era Film On Battle For Moscow Premieres Again, 40 Years Later

"Za nami Moskva" (Frontline Moscow), a popular Soviet-era war drama, is making its return to the international stage, some 40 years after the film first debuted. Mazhit Begalin's 1968 movie, which is being screened at a film festival in Moscow on November 7, is dedicated to the Red Army's battle to defend Moscow. The screening of the film is timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of a military parade marking the Bolshevik Revolution held as Nazi troops approached the capital. From the Red Square festivities on November 7, 1941, Soviet troops went directly to the front. Despite the traditional film culture of the time, which dictated that the main character of Soviet war films be an ethnic Russian, "Frontline Moscow's" main character and hero was an ethnic Kazakh. Those close to Begalin say the Kazakh film director, a war veteran himself, had to overcome many intrigues and confrontations to get his movie made and released. ​​"Frontline Moscow" depicts a three-day battle fought in the village of Matrenino outside Moscow in November 1941. The movie shows how a military unit led by Bauyrzhan Momyshuly, an ethnic Kazakh, takes up defensive positions and forces the enemy to retreat from the area, suffering heavy casualties. The unit was part of the Red Army's 316th Rifle Division, which played a key role in defending Moscow. Across the Soviet Union, the division was better known as the Panfilov Division, named after its commander, Red Army General Ivan Panfilov. Begalin's problems began with the film's script, which was originally based on Russian writer Aleksandr Bek's novel "Volokolamskoye shosse" (Volokolamsk Highway). In turn, "Volokolamsk Highway," a wartime Soviet propaganda book published in 1943, was based on Kazakh commander Momyshuly's accounts. By the 1960s, Momyshuly had published his own memoir, "Frontline Moscow. Commander's Notes." Bek's friends and relatives recall that much to Bek's annoyance, Momyshuly had always considered himself a co-author of the book, a claim the Russian writer refused to accept. ...

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