Panfilov’s 28 (2016)

I usually prefer to talk about the a film, what’s on the screen and not about what’s going and what’s being said around it, but I’ll make a slight exception.

Russia churns out a lot of war films and a lot of films with patriotism as the key (sometimes only) ingredient. There is an understandable fatigue of these films (just like some are tired of comic book or superhero films) so people are now giving low scores to any war film, regardless of its merits.

Russia also has a lot of people that love to see Russian films fail. Russia produces a lot of trash and cash-grab (popsa) films so you have people that call everything that comes from Russia as popsa and want to see it fail.

No, this film is not a box office failure nor a financial failure. Yes, the budget is underreported, (which is strange considering people want to see bigger budget films) but it seems to have made its money back already. One cannot compare it to American films with bigger budgets, star power, the advantage of English, etc.

Without going into spoilers, this film is about a battle, or series of battles, between a Nazi Germany Panzer division and Soviet (Russian and Kazakh) defensive positions. If you want a love story, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you want a superhero, you’ve come to the wrong place. Rambo doing it all by himself, taking down the Wehrmacht and killing Hitler himself? Wrong place.

This film has been de-Sovietized, reducing references to Stalin, red flags, Marxism, Communism, etc. People seem to take issue with that and feel that this point makes this film a 1/10 film.

The fact is defending a trench is defending a trench. It makes no difference if one does it for the union of republics (USSR) or for a particular republic (RSFSR). In this case, the soldiers were defending (the road to) Moscow and it was not inaccurate that they were defending Russia. Yugoslav WW2 films also have people talking about taking/defending particular regions (Slavonia, Vojvodina, Kosovo, Serbia, etc.) and that does not necessarily mean they denied the existence of Yugoslavia.

Not that this film has not been de-Sovietized. It has, but it’s not such a big deal. People still referred to each other as comrade, and yes, there were not a lot of flags and hammer-and- sickle stuff, but this was an undersupplied unit, lacking both men, guns, ammo and supplies.

The production values are quite high and this film lacks the TV-cheesiness of many Russian films and shows.

The Russians are not presented as good people, nor are the Nazis presented as evil. There is no need for that. We know who’s who. This was like two boxers in the ring – “this is where we are now. Let’s settle this.”

It’s dark, without being gloomy and depressing. It’s violent without being disgusting.

It has professional acting, professional camera work, professional lighting, sound and CGI.

The script is not very deep because this is a film about men defending a trench. It sets out to do one thing and does it very, very well.

Review by charmaments

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