The film is said to have some basis in fact. In World War 2, the Germans have a facility testing anti tank weapons on captured tanks crewed by Russian POWs and concentration camp inmates ...
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The film is said to have some basis in fact. In World War 2, the Germans have a facility testing anti tank weapons on captured tanks crewed by Russian POWs and concentration camp inmates who are usually killed during testing or as they bale out of the damaged tanks. Before tests,they have to ready the tanks for trials in a hangar. One POW prevents another from sabotaging a tank, and plots something with others. Three POWs and a French concentration camp inmate crew a tank and drive to the proving grounds. In the trials they are shelled but survive and, by a ruse, pretend the tank is knocked out. When the Germans approach, they are able to steal a weapon and speed away, crashing out of the proving area and wreaking havoc in a nearby town where they do a smash and grab raid at a clothes shop. They flee into the countryside as search parties are mobilized. They drive through a field of female workers from the east who recognize the tank as one of theirs and run after it. The tank ...
I don't know why there's only few films about tank drivers or leaders, although tanks are among the most cinematic of all vehicles: frightening, attractive, impulsive... These symbols of war are loaded with the kind of emotion that is the essence of cinema. Unfortunately they are mainly seen as external effects, and war is only rarely seen through tank crew's eyes. Luckily we have "Zhavoronok", a Soviet masterpiece that almost makes any other tank film seem unnecessary.
The story is about four POW's who escape from Nazi testing ground driving a T-34, and are chased through Germany while the tank itself proves to be nearly invincible when handled the right way. The tone is heroic, but not without ironic touches. The story has been handled with even more appealing sense of action than the American WW2 films of the time, although it's makers never forget to add exciting (and deeply Soviet/Russian) sequences with nightmares and absurd visions.
"Zhavoronok" is a quite rare film. I myself have seen it only on VHS-tape I bought from Moscow. It didn't have even subtitles, although it didn't need them. I sincerely hope that now, on the era of DVD's, "Zhavoronok" will make it's way to foreign markets, so that western viewers could also find this astonishing chase movie.
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