saving leningrad cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres from writer/director Aleksey Kozlov and Universal Pictures International is the story of hope and survival when SAVING LENINGRAD.
It is war between the Russian people and German soldiers in the Soviet Union in 1941 and the people of Leningrad are being evacuated. On Lake Lodoga is an old barge, number 752, that is being loaded with soldiers and civilians. Trying to get on board is cadet Kostya Gorelov (Andrey Mironov-Udalov) and his girlfriend Nastya Tkachoyva (Maria Melniova). Also getting on board is Vadim Petruchik (Gela Meskhi), a NKVD investigator who has papers that he deems important to the war.
When Gorelov’s group is taken off the boat to head to the front, his father Col. Nikolai Gorelov (Vitaliy Kishchenko) makes a last minute decision. What Nastya doesn’t know is that after leaving her mother Nariya (Anastasiya Melnikova) behind, that her father Alexandr (Valeriy Degtyar) has been released from prison and sent to that very front.
Petruchik recognizes Nastya and can’t stop himself from bringing up her father’s past or putting thoughts in her head about Kostya. He also realizes who Kostya’s father is but has no problem threatening him as well. Trying to make the best of the frightening situation isn’t helping the couple deal with their own issues.
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On land the fighting increases as the soldiers march toward the battle. In front of them is a hill that is wiping out soldier after soldier. That doesn’t stop the men from doing what they must to hold the enemy back. When leaders of the platoons fall, new leaders emerge with a call to arms that the Germans couldn’t even imagine coming.
Believing the barge is the only chance for evacuation, it is sent out onto the lake for the crossing. What they didn’t expect was a storm that ravages the ship to the point of bring on water and have to start dumping everything on the deck. Nastya sees that Kostya is doing his part as more and more being to try and save the ship.
Thinking they might still have a chance, from the air comes more terror as the scattering begins. Those on board don’t have much to fight with and try to fight back with all they have but it might not be enough to save the barge or the people below in the holds.
This is a story of survival.
Mironov-Udalov as Kostya is clearly a young man in love but he is also a soldier. Sort of a considered a lady’s man, no one is really sure if the new girl is serious or he’s just trying to impress her. That perception changes quickly when he makes sure she is safely aboard the barge. It is his own father that makes arrangements for Kostya and it is something that troubles him not wanting problems for his father. With the decision made, Kostya doesn’t hesitate to do whatever is necessary to save the people on board.
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Melniova as Nastya is a young woman in love who will follow her man to start a new life. The problem is the old one isn’t quite finished with either of them yet. Trying to be supportive, she does manage to let Petruchik get into her head questioning Kostya’s motives. Eventually she sees what her man is made of! Melnikova as mother Nariya has tried to live her life raising daughter Nastya alone while her husband is in prison. Trying to stay clear of losing her job with the government (not a good idea to anger them), she knows her daughter is on the barge and husband is being sent to war.
Meskhi as Petruchik is a power hungry narcissist who has a penchant for striking fear into people. He causes trouble between Kostya and Nastya in different ways. Petruckik makes it perfectly clear that all he has to do is snap his fingers and life will be difficult for them both, the thing is they have more serious problems waiting for them than his snappy fingers. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the character of Petruckik could be their poster child!
Degtyar as Nastya’s father Alexandr is finally released from prison but doesn’t escape his fate. Being sent to fight the war may seem crazy considering his age but he accepts it and is stronger than most of the soldiers. Kishchenko as Col. Nikolai Gorelov is definetly a military man who is facing some hard and painful decisions. He may be a soldier but he’s also Kostya’s father and when those two parts of him collide, one side wins out.
Other cast include: Aleksey Shevchenkov as Erofeev, Elena Zimina as Zoya, Sergey Zharkov as Gena Bukin, Ivan Lyrchikov as Andrey Babintsev, Maria Kepustinskaya as Sveta,Yesenia Raevskaya as Pomerantseva, Vadim Andreyev as Skyortsov, Inga Strelkova-Oboldina as Galochka, Vladimir Petrov as Sasha, Stepan Yakovlev as Seryozha, Vladimir Seleznev as Yarygin, Mikhail Morozov as Vitya, Evgenia Lyubimova as Lyusya, Pavel Grigoriev as Mikhail and Natalya Tkachenko as Liza.
SAVING LENINGRAD is a story of a young couple in love, parents and their children, soldiers, enemies and war. It is also about decisions made because of connections people have with one another. There are good guys and there are bad guys and the problem can often be that both of those are on the same side.
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I am a serious lover of period pieces and this film falls nicely into that category. The costuming and sets all take the viewer into that time period. It is in the costuming and sets that we as the viewer either go for the ride the story is telling or fall behind. I went completely for the ride. Having never heard this story I was interested in every aspect of what was happening and shared in the characters ultimate acceptance of how it all turns out.
They story is based on the actual events of barge number 752. Initially, the barge was used to transport supplies to Leningrad for the survival of the people. Their food transport had to be used for people because an evacuation was deemed an emergency and 1,000 people were loaded on. On September 17, 1941, 460 people would lose their lives on barge 752 and the tow boat Selemzha.
Although SAVING LENINGRAD is a film about the war between Germany and Russia, once the boat sails it becomes about the barge 752 and those aboard. Already considered a dangerous proposition, the fight for survival began the moment it left the dock – little did they know that survival was about to be taken to a higher level.
In the end – the fight has just begun!