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Film / Battle For Sevastopol

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One Woman Who Changed The World

Battle For Sevastopol (Russian: Битва за Севастополь; Ukrainian:Незламна, "Indestructible") is a 2015 Russian-Ukrainian Biopic war film about Red Army sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko, the most successful female sniper in history.

It follows Lyudmila's civilian life before World War II, her enlistment, her training, her involvement in the sieges of Odessa and Sevastopol, and her retirement into a Soviet propagandist.


The film provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Lyudmila's husband's name is actually Alexei Kitsenko, but she called him Leonid/Lyonya. And he called her "Lucy".
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Lyudmila is both on the giving end, and the receiving end. She loves Makarov but Makarov doesn't love her, and Boris loves her but she doesn't love Boris.
    • Makarov does change his mind after Lydmila is buried alive by a shell, but he's been killed in combat by the time she recovers.
  • Artistic License – History: There's one very glaring example. The film completely forgets the fact that her family's name was Byelov, the real-life Lyudmila had a son when she was 16 with Dr. Aleksey Pavlichenko, whom she also married (hence her last name) and divorced within a few months. In the film, she has a son with Leonid when she's 24. There's no mention of Aleksey in the film (though there is another doctor she's romantically involved with named Boris, who is fictional), and in real-life Lyudmila never had a child with Leonid.
    • The film portrays Lyudmila as almost obsessively focused on academic studies before joining the army with little interest in a social life, though she does at least have a few friends. Accounts of the real Lyudmila describe her as much more outgoing.
    • In the film, Lyudmila gets hit by two artillery shells and shot in the lung by a sniper, forcing her to retire. In real life, she only received one injury before being forced into retirement; a mortar shell.
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    • Lyudmila's real story was heavily propagandized and censored by the Soviet Union, with multiple conflicting accounts of her life and combat experience, leaving her Shrouded in Myth. A rumor even persisted for decades in the Soviet Military that she never existed at all, and was invented for wartime propaganda. Lyudmila was very real, very effective as a sniper, and very traumatized by the war, but the exact details of her life are difficult to pin down.
  • Artistic License – Military: The Sniper Duel scene is infamously unrealistic. 1, a sniper wouldn't reveal themselves like Lyudmila did, 2, a sniper wouldn't hesitate like the German did, and 3, no one would've survived getting lung-shot like Lyudmila did.
  • Babies Ever After: Leonid impregnated Lyudmila on the battlefield, and she presumably gave birth some time in 1943, after retiring. By 1957, she has an adolescent son she raised as a single mom. This is inaccurate. By 1957, the real Lyudmila's son was already 25.
  • Badass Adorable: Lyudmila is 5'1" and youthfully attractive. She's also slain 309 soldiers.
  • Badass Bookworm: Before the war, Lyudmila was just a Cute Bookworm. And after the war, she went right back to university, not missing a beat.
  • Best Friend: Lyudmila has two; Masha, her university classmate and sister-in-arms, and Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Lyudmila has three. What a player.
    • First, she kisses Makarov after rejecting another soldier's Forceful Kiss. He rejects her advances.
    • Second, she kisses Boris in gratitude for signing her medical report papers to let her get back to fighting.
    • Finally, she kisses Leonid, which seals the deal in their marriage. It's also a very bloody kiss, which is kinda gross.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Soviet Union is not mindlessly glorified. Their demonization of Germans is treated negatively, and when Lyudmila is confronted with her country's crimes (such as the gulags, the Invasion of Poland, and the Winter War) by a reporter, she has no valid rebuttal. Two German soldiers are also humanized. Still though, the USSR is simply defending itself from Nazis.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Lyudmila gets in a fist fight, Leonid saves her and gets his lip busted, then they make out. Instead of swapping spit, they swap blood.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: In her first time in combat Lyudmila knocks out a tank, then aims at an officer but hesitates to kill a man whose face she can see until the man next to her is killed, splattering her with his blood.
  • Buried Alive: Lyudmila is buried in her trench by a shell, but fortunately Makarov digs her out and rushes her to the hospital. Years later she still has PTSD over this.
  • Cassandra Truth: Lyudmila's boast of killing 309 fascists is so audacious that even Mrs. Roosevelt doesn't believe her at first.
  • Character Development: Lyudmila kills 308 fascists without remorse (even tortures some of them) because she sees them as subhuman. The 309th and final fascist she kills, she finds photos of his family and realizes that they are in fact very human.
  • Chest of Medals: Her decorations include the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union and two Orders of Lenin.
  • Chummy Commies: The friendship between the US and the Soviet Union during WW2 is emphasized in the film.
  • Coitus Ensues: There's a sex scene by between Lyudmila and Leonid.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Lyudmila likes shooting fascists in non-vital areas and watching them squirm for a moment sometimes. This is Played for Drama.
  • Cold Sniper / Friendly Sniper: Lyudmila is a sniper with a Sugar-and-Ice Personality.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Lyudmila wins a Sniper Duel by playing dirty and pulling a I Surrender, Suckers.
  • Cool Gun: After knocking out a tank by shooting the driver through his viewport with an armor-piercing round, Lyudmila is recognized by General Petrov and given a Tokarev SVT semiautomatic rifle. The next scene is Makarov teaching Lyudmila how to properly care for the accurate but notoriously high-maintenance SVT. Pavlichenko really used such a weapon, though there are conflicting versions of when and under exactly what circumstances she received it.
  • Covered with Scars: When Lyudmila undresses in front of Mrs. Roosevelt, she reveals a back full of scars. This is from the shrapnel she absorbed during her husband's death.
  • Crying After Sex: Lyudmila actually cries tears of joy during sex.
  • Cute Bookworm: As a civilian, Lyudmila is a meek and studious college student.
  • Damsel out of Distress: It seems like Makarov is gonna have to save Lyudmila from a Near-Rape Experience, but she saves herself.
  • Darkest Hour: The Siege of Sevastopol is this for the Soviets. It's basically their Dunkirk, complete with a desperate evacuation.
  • Death-or-Glory Attack: Weary after a long Sniper Duel, Lyudmila stands up to expose her position—she gets in a killshot but at the cost of a serious wound.
  • Dehumanization: Lyudmila kills "fascists" without remorse or hesitation because she considers them subhuman. She even gleefully tortures one of them by shooting him in non-lethal areas. This becomes a matter of contention between her and Leonid.
  • Dented Iron: Yes, Lyudmila survived two artillery shellings, but it shows.
  • The Dreaded: She didn't get the nickname "Lady Death" for hugging kittens.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Lyudmila has to put up with one at boot camp.
  • Dude Magnet: Lyudmila shares a kiss with four separate men. It's only serious with one of them though.
  • Final Boss: Lyudmila is ordered to duel her German counterpart for the sake of propaganda. It's a grueling, day-long Sniper Duel that she barely wins. This is her final action as a soldier.
  • Flames of Love: Lyudmila and Leonid make love in front of a fireplace.
  • Forceful Kiss: Two of them, back-to-back. The first one is a Soviet soldier sexually harassing Lyudmila, which is interrupted by Makarov. Then Lyudmila forcibly kisses Makarov.
  • Framing Device: The movie is framed as Mrs. Roosevelt telling Lyudmila's story.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: The Final Boss marksman Lyudmila fights a Sniper Duel with has a toothbrush mustache that makes him look suspiciously like Hitler.
  • Groin Attack: A creep in Lyudmila's platoon tries raping her, so she knees him in the crotch.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Leonid takes the brunt of an artillery shell for Lyudmila, dying in the process.
    • Boris also gives Lyudmila his evacuation pass, dooming himself to die in Sevastopol.
  • Historical Beauty Update: The real Pavlichenko was rather more plain-looking than Yulia Peresild, who actually bears more physical resemblance to Roza Shanina.
  • Historical Domain Character: Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Eleanor Roosevelt, Woody Guthrie, Major-General Ivan Petrov, and Leonid Kitsenko.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Boris follows Lyudmila to the ends of the earth, even though she only sees him as a friend.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: She didn't become the greatest female sniper of all time by being inaccurate. Her incredible performance at the shooting range is actually what gets the Red Army to invite her in the first place.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Lyudmila paints a cross on her forehead in blood, so when an enemy sniper sees her head, he hesitates, which gives her the chance to kill him.
  • Jeanne d'Archétype: Lyudmila is a young woman that is a legendarily effective soldier and a legendarily effective symbol.
  • Last Stand: The sieges of Odessa and Sevastopol are both this, which makes it all the more miraculous that Lyudmila survived them.
  • Lady of War: Lyudmila's femininity as a woman is emphasized just as much as her masculinity as a soldier.
  • The Lost Lenore: Lyudmila has three of these. Makarov, Leonid, and Boris all die, each breaking her heart to pieces.
    • Masha also loses her fiancée in the war.
    • Lyudmila theorizes Makarov won't date her because he's faithful to his dead wife, but he insists it's because he doesn't want to get too attached to a soldier that will probably die soon.
  • Made of Iron: Lyudmila is directly hit by an artillery shell not once, but twice, and gets shot close to the heart with a sniper, all in the span of a few months. But she just keeps fighting and fighting and fighting.
  • May–December Romance: Averted. Lyudmila wants to get in a relationship with Makarov (There's a 14 year age gap between the actors), but Makarov denies.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lyudmila kills an enemy sniper and loots his body, where she finds photos of his wife and kids. It makes her cry.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Lady Death.
  • Near-Rape Experience: A Soviet soldier tries raping Lyudmila. At first, it seems like Makarov is gonna have to save her, but she handles herself.
  • Odd Friendship: A Red Army sniper best friends with the First Lady.
  • Old Soldier: Makarov is a Red Army captain and veteran of the Winter War.
  • One-Woman Army: A real life example. In the span of only a year, Lyudmila singlehandedly killed an entire battalion's worth (309, to be exact) of German soldiers.
  • Overranked Soldier: A real-life example. Lyudmila went from a private to a lieutenant in just nine months, at the age of 24.
    • The most egregious example is when Lyudmila is in the war room planning with a council of generals, even though she's only a lieutenant.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: In real life, Lyudmila was 5'1".
  • Propaganda Machine: The Soviet Union turns Lyudmila into a propagandist to be paraded around America to push the call for a Second Front.
  • Red Baron: "Lady Death". Deconstructed in that Lyudmila hates this nickname, since it makes her feel like a monster.
  • Reds with Rockets: The film is all about the Red Army.
  • Rousing Speech: Lyudmila gives a very simple but effective one to the American people at the end, which helps convinces them to join the war against Germany. "Gentlemen, I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist invaders by now. Don't you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?"
  • Sadist: Lyudmila's hatred for fascists eventually devolves her into this.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: The sex scene is PG.
  • Shellshocked Veteran: When Lyudmila and Mrs. Roosevelt are cooking, Mrs. Roosevelt drops a frying pan. It reminds Lyudmila of an explosion and gives her a violent PTSD attack. Truth in Television, as the real Lyudmila was badly traumatized by her war experiences and became an alcoholic for the rest of her life, eventually dying of a stroke at the age of just 58.
  • Smooch of Victory: Subverted; Lyudmila kisses Boris for signing her medical papers to let her back into the frontline before she has fully recovered from her injuries. As Boris is in love with her, he's not happy about this.
  • Sniper Duel: Lyudmila has many of these. As a matter of fact, in real life, she had exactly 36 of these. The final one is with a top enemy sniper she's ordered to take out for propaganda purposes, despite having just been blown up by artillery. It lasts an entire day.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Lyudmila has this, in a "Duality of (Wo)Man" way. When she's a soldier, she's cold and emotionless. But when she's a woman, she's sweet and likable.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: The matter of Lyudmila's gender is a central theme of the film. At first, as a civilian, she's a girly girl, but boot camp and the Siege of Odessa forces her to toughen up into a tomboyish soldier. She only begins to reconnect to her forgotten femininity when she befriends Eleanor. A good example of this is when Eleanor encourages her to wear a comfortable dress instead of a stuffy military uniform at a speech.
  • Throwing Out the Script: Despite threats from her superior, Lyudmila refuses to give the Party-authorised script and gives the Rousing Speech above.
  • Ukrainians with Depleted Uranium: Despite being a Russian film, it's actually all about Ukraine and the Ukrainian branch of the Red Army. All Soviet settings (Kiev, Odessa, and Sevastopol) are in Ukraine.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Yulia Peresild is mindblowingly gorgeous. It's a shame she's caked in several layers of dirt and blood throughout most of the film.
  • The Unreveal: Mrs. Roosevelt teases giving Lyudmila's son a special gift, but it's never revealed what it is.
  • Winter Warfare: Duh, it's about the Eastern Front of WW2.
  • Waif-Fu: Lyudmila is tiny, hot, cute, and badass.
  • What Does She See in Him?: A genderflipped version. Mrs. Roosevelt tells Lyudmila she has no idea why Franklin married her, since he was handsome, social, and wealthy while she believed she was unattractive, shy, and underclass.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Two Germans are humanized: an injured one that simply wants some water, and a sniper that carries around photos of his family. The German Lyudmila tortures to death is also arguably humanized.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Lyudmila hates German soldiers so much that, at one point, she tortures a cablelayer by shooting him repeatedly in non-fatal areas with a smile on her face. Leoind gives him a Mercy Kill, then scolds her for this.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Leonid and Lyudmila turn up for Masha's battlefield wedding only to find her in tears because he's been killed in action.
  • William Telling: Downplayed. One of the sniper instructors tests the protagonist by standing next to the target she is firing on, while munching on an apple in reference to this trope.
  • You Go, Girl!: Most men don't take Lyudmila seriously since she's a woman in the Army. She proves them wrong.