Victory on the Right Bank Ukraine | Chicago Reader

Victory on the Right Bank Ukraine

This 1944 documentary, which focuses on the Red Army's campaign to retake Ukraine from the Germans, is arguably propaganda. The German soldiers are described in voice-over as a “crossbreed of hangmen with gorillas,” and Stalin is treated worshipfully. And the horrendous destruction caused by the Germans—shown in stark images, some of them captured from enemy forces—is imperfectly described: we hear of the 200,000 murdered at Babi Yar, but no mention of the fact that they were Jews. Yet director Alexander Dovzhenko's intercutting of diverse moving shots and static images that show movement is frequently brilliant, bringing the chaos to life, and there's a stunningly visionary cut from a close-up of a man whose sight has been surgically restored to a montage of the Ukrainian countryside, transformed from devastation to arcadian splendor. In Russian with subtitles. 64 min.

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