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They Fought for Their Motherland

Oni srazhalis za rodinu
[They Fought For Their Motherland aka They Fought For Their Country]

Sergey Bondarchuk

Soviet WW II drama that follows the remnants of one particular infantry regiment as they retreat to the River Don whilst struggling vainly to stem the tide of the German advance across Russia.

Mixing both action and character study with a smattering of arthouse it's perhaps not always the most straightforward of films but imo generally works quite well and even if a little ponderous in places is a rather engrossing watch overall. Whilst admittedly some of the characters may be a little larger than life they are all well enough played and the action scenes (of which there are enough) are generally decently staged.

It's the human drama that really drives this movie though, heroics are thankfully generally kept to a minimum - these are primarily soldiers trying to survive and make as best of a bad situation as they can. The camaraderie between them feels honest, and the humour which at times is allowed to come very much to the fore (especially in the second half) is surprisingly warm. That a number of scenes are visually quite striking certainly doesn't hinder any enjoyment either.

They Fought For Their Motherland may not always be the most realistic but is a rather effective and enjoyable watch imo and I've no hesitation in awarding it a