January 22, 2017

1943. The Film "She Defends Her Country" Debuts in Moscow

Film Review for "She Defends Her Country"
A still featuring actress Vera Maretskaya (right) in the 1943 Soviet film "She Defends Her Country," also known by the title "No Greater Love" (source)
From the Kansas City Kansan:
She Defends Her Country

Moscow, June 8, 1943

By Bill Downs

Released in Moscow this week is a film dedicated to the Soviet women entitled 'She Defends Her Country.' It was produced by the Central Amalgamated Studio of Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, and stars the popular stage actress, Vera Maretskaya. It was directed by Fridrikh Ermler.

It is the story of how the residents of a captured village west of Moscow became partisans during the German drive of last year.

Technically, it is the best Russian film produced during the war. It is excellent propaganda for the Russians and is currently packing them in. The entire audience has a good cry and emerges in a fever of hate for the Nazis.

Maretskaya portrays Praskovya Lukyanova, cornily built up as the happiest woman in the village, the best tractor driver, and an ecstatic mother of a five-year-old son. However, the film settles down when the village is evacuated under German attack. In a single day Lukyanova loses her husband while her son is cold-bloodedly shot and she ravished. She wanders through the forest where she finds distraught villagers and finds her hair turned white. She becomes 'Comrade P,' woman leader of guerrillas.

The love interest is provided by a young couple from the district who also join the guerrillas.

The film is dramatically well put together and holds interest with the same type of action as the western thrillers. The tone is tragic and American audiences might find the scenes of the shooting of children, crushing of soldiers under tank treads too strong for their stomachs.

However, totally, it is an intelligent job of interpreting the spirit of hatred which is the basis of the entire guerrilla movement—which causes peaceful farmers to join the movement and which offers no quarter; whose only fate, if captured, is death.

Atrocity is brutally treated in this film, and if shown in America could give reaching confirmation of what every foreign correspondent has seen. The film's sincerity overcomes its shortcomings.