During the war in Afghanistan a Soviet tank crew commanded by a tyrannical officer find themselves lost and in a struggle against a band of Mujahadeen guerrillas in the mountains. A unique look at the Soviet 'Vietnam' experience sympathetically told for both sides. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
At the start of the film, just after the Columbia Pictures logo the following quote is given: When you're wounded an' left on Afghanistan's plains. An' the women come out to cut up your remains, Just roll to your rifle an' blow out your brains, An' go to your Gawd like a soldier. - Rudyard Kipling See more »
This neglected and largely unknown anti-war film, ranks as one of the best of the genre. Since other posters have commented extensively on this movie, I'll limit myself to a few comments about those elements others have not addressed.
In it my understanding from material I read at the time the movie was in release (I saw it in Los Angeles when I was living there in the late 80s) that the actors who portrayed Afghanis learned and delivered their lines phonetically. The fact that the "Russians" sound like Americans, and the Afghans are speaking the language without subtitles is a brilliant dramatic device. Virtually no one is going to understand what the Afghanis are actually saying, but it is possible to get the gist from the context and from body language. This has the effect of alienating the viewer from the freedom fighters and making them tend to identify with the Russian tank crew. The movie then operates subversively against this natural tendency throughout the remainder of the story.
The hunting of the tank by the Mujahadeen has an almost mythic quality, except for the fact that the T-62 is real and it has a human crew. And leading that crew is the tank commander whose entire life was shaped by his experiences in "The Great Patriotic War" against the Nazis when, as an 8-year-old, he was used by Russian troops in Stalingrad to help kill German tanks. The commander is as monomaniacal as Ahab, but instead of pursuing the whale, he is it's animating spirit.
There are a lot of layers to this movie -- it will definitely repay repeat viewings.
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