HISTORY

A Woman's War: an Antiwar Compilation

When war comes, it's a tragedy for everyone. War brings destruction and death, it damages our beautiful countries and steals the ones we love from us. All people get involved, it doesn't matter if they want it or not. People in Russsia tend to say that "war doesn't have a female face", meaning that the terror of the war is not for women. However, war doesn't care about it, so women have to go and fight alongside male soldiers or help in some other ways. In cinematography, the image of a woman in the setting of war is often used for showing how it changes the lives of ordinary people. Today we will focus on some movies dedicated to it.

by Lera Grebennikova and Diana Ushkar
11/03/2022

The Dawns Here Are Quiet (1972) is one of the most significant and influential military films shot in the USSR. In the center of the story are five young female soldiers. They have different personalities and stories, but one fate – to die for their homeland in a military operation. The director, Stanislav Rostotskiy, depicts the military realities, in which fragile women have to take up arms and fight till the last breath. The director doesn't try to hide the femininity of soldiers; instead, he adds some scenes to show it in all its beauty. For example, the episode of dancing, or the episode in a bathhouse show the contrast between the fragile nature of women and the terrible, cruel realities of war they belong to. After the first death occurs, the commander is mourning his soldier with the words: "She could have been a mother", and this leads us to the message of the film. War ruins the natural order of things. Instead of prosperity, youth, and love, it brings death and grief.
Beanpole (2019) is a perfect movie to feel the world's general confusion after WW2.

The action takes place at the end of 1945 in ruined and demolished Leningrad. Iya, Beanpole (Viktoria Miroshnichenko), works at a hospital. She is tall and thin, and has a disease similar to postwar PTSD: from time to time, Beanpole goes into strange trances. She is tormented by other people at the hospital as she doesn't fit in.

There are just two people who help her exist in such conditions: a little boy who lives with Beanpole and her wartime friend Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina), her roommate.
A real silent and cold inner war is going on inside these women. Masha, discouraged by life, still attempts to find solace in humans and frantically seeks comfort even from the nastiest things that surround her. Beanpole, still a warm-hearted and a little bit silly person, wants to be happy, but it sometimes seems like everything around her hurts and makes her feel guilty, as if fate does not favor her after all.

This incredibly beautiful movie tells us a story of women who are learning to live and love again after a war.
In Skammen (1968), the viewer faces two different inner worlds of a man and a woman suffering from their relationships in peaceful life in the first part of the movie, and then, in the second part, amidst the war.

Eva (Liv Ullmann) is strong, independent, and caring about her husband, while Jan (Max von Sydow) is weak and morally corrupt.

War changes everything. The main characters switch the socially constructed roles immediately, but at the same time they stay locked within their fear and loathing of themselves and each other.
Women are not fragile. They bear the binary of masculine and feminine traits, often revealing the best parts of those qualities in tough situations. There are a lot of substantial movies representing such images of women, and we have merely scratched the surface.
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