August 12, 2020

46 years Only Old Men Are Going to Battle

On August 12, 1974, a movie was released on the screens of Soviet cinemas which immortalized the name of Leonid Bykov, "Only Old Men Are Going to Battle".

In fact, the date of birth of the film could be considered January 11, 1974, when the first screening of the film took place in the Kiev cinema named after Dovzhenko. But at that show there were only "chosen ones", mainly officials, figures of Ukrainian cinema and the military. And it was the officials of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, who hardly had any significant military experience, who considered the film "implausible, non-heroic, and not about war at all." And they put the film "on the shelf."

And then real front-line soldiers, viewing participants, among which there were several twice and thrice Heroes of the Soviet Union, recalling their heroic past, rushed into battle against officials of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, just as they threw themselves at the fascists 30 years before. Ukrainian officials resisted long and hard. As much as six months - longer than the Nazis defended Berlin. But the pilots were stronger. And on August 12, the film was released in all cinemas of the country!

However, a lot of articles have been written about the history of the creation of this film, about the real "torture" during its filming. For example, here and here (in Russian).

But I want to share my thoughts-doubts-questions for the following reason. It is known that Leonid Bykov wanted to make a film in color. But the meager budget did not allow this. However, having shot the movie on a black and white film, Bykov was pleased with the result and, moreover, realized that in black and white the film turned out to be more realistic.

In 2009, on the initiative of the Federal TV Channel One and in violation of both the will of the heiress of the late director - his daughter Maryana, and copyright belonging to the film studio named after A. Dovzhenko - the film was colorized. (For more information on violations, click here (in Russian). Colorization was carried out by the American company Grading Dimension Pictures, which received $ 500,000 for this work. (Note that Kinopoisk has once again "lied" by giving this amount for the budget of the film. I wonder what was the motivation for such falsification?)

In fact, the approved budget for the painting was only 381 thousand rubles! And it cost 325 thousand rubles. Of the saved 56 thousand rubles, a bonus was paid to Leonid Bykov - as much as 200 rubles. And three performers of the main roles in the film received another 50 rubles each. And also estimate how much the budget received thanks to the fact that in just one year the film was watched by more than 44 million moviegoers.

But in this case, I'm not talking about money matters and not about copyright. More important is another: in America, the film was not shown. Neither in the 70s, nor later. This is evidenced by the lack of reviews of professional film critics on the IMDB website, the absence of this film in the lists of the best, even Russian-speaking, films compiled by American film critics and film experts. We know the reason: the silence of Soviet and Russian films about the Great Patriotic War is an integral part of the general strategy to create the myth that the Americans exclusively won the World War II.

But why, in such circumstances, to hire an American company to colorize a film that has more than dubious expediency for a very round sum? Or probably someone from the Federal TV Channel One management, according to Russian tradition, warmed their hands on a pullback? And after that, does the Federal TV Channel One have the moral right to angrily denounce the so-called “falsifiers of history” almost every day?

However, one thing remains, as usual, to remember and believe the poet: "But there is also God's judgment, the confidants of debauchery."

Despite all the obstacles posed by the party authorities to this film, despite the actual ban of this film in Western countries, more than 88% of IMDB and Kinopoisk users around the world rated Leonid Bykov’s film masterpiece from 8 to 10. Thanks to this indicator, according to FilmGourmand the film “Only Old Men Are Going to Battle” has a rating of 8.805 and takes the 207th place in the Golden Thousand.