Convoy 48 (Koridor bessmertiya—"The Immortal Corridor") is a 2019 film from Russia directed by Fyodor Popov.
January, 1943. The tide of the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany is starting to turn. In Stalingrad, a German army is trapped and starving. Up north, in Leningrad, the good news is that the Soviets have managed to open up a corridor to the city of Leningrad, after the Germans besieged the city for a year and a half and a million Leningraders starved to death. The bad news is that the land corridor to Leningrad is a quite narrow one along the south shore of Lake Ladoga, some 4-8 km in width. While the Russians control the land, the corridor is still subject to artillery shelling from the Germans on the heights to the south, as well as Luftwaffe bombardment.
Enter Masha and Sonya, two young women barely out of high school. With the whole nation mobilizing to defeat the Germans, the two girls are assigned to the 48th locomotive column, to learn how to drive trains. They come under the supervision of Jora Federov, an experienced engineer. Unsurprisingly, love blooms between Masha and handsome, mustachioed Jora. Everyone is a little busy, however, with World War II, and the trains running a route to and from Leningrad that is called the "corridor of death".
- Artistic License History: A title card at the end of the movie states that the Russian physicists rescued by the train, and the cyclotron that came with them, were instrumental in the development of the first Soviet atomic bomb in 1949. The fact that the Russians only developed a bomb because they had a spy in America who smuggled out all the technical data (Klaus Fuchs) goes unmentioned.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: An understated example when Masha hears some rumbling in the distance.Masha: The shelling has started!
Sonya: Are you sure?
A shell lands right next to them, and the girls duck
Masha: I guess so!
- Big "NO!": Masha screams "NYET! NYET! NYET! NYET!" when Jora dies of his wounds moments after the climactic firefight with the Germans.
- Binocular Shot: The typical two overlapping circle shot as Jora looks out from the front of the train, to an area where he suspects that they will be attacked by a German mortar on a train car.
- Bittersweet Ending: Ends with the deaths of both Masha's best friend Sonya (killed by a German shell during the climactic train trip) and Masha's lover Jora (killed exchanging small arms fire with the Germans). But the train got through, the orphans and the Russian physicists were both rescued from Leningrad, and the city is no longer on the edge of starvation.
- Bomb Disposal: In one scene the train is halted when an unexploded German shell is found sitting directly on the tracks. The sappers won't be there to defuse the bomb until morning—so Federov and his sidekick remove it from the tracks themselves. The sidekick takes the shell into the woods, Federov is horrified to hear it go off, then Federov is hugely relieved to see his friend coming back on his own feet, having gotten rid of the shell before it went off.
- Chekhov's Gun: It's established that there is a grade on the railroad going out of Leningrad, steep enough that it could be a challenge to a train that is underpowered or overloaded. This comes back in the climax when a coupling on the train breaks, causing the rear of the train, including the car with the 27 orphans, to slide backwards into the open area where they are vulnerable to German attack.
- The Ghost: The Germans are never seen, only what they do, namely, shelling and strafing the railway. In the one scene where a German does appear onscreen, when a pilot bails out and parachutes down in the distance, the workers rush over and kill him, and his face is never shown.
- Heartwarming Orphan: 27 of them! The climax of the movie involves the crew of Convoy 48 having to haul, among other things, a group of 27 war orphans. The presence of the children on the train lends greater urgency when the train coupling breaks, and Jora has to go back with the engine to retrieve the children.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The route to Leningrad is called the "corridor of death".
- Lecture as Exposition: A briefing of Soviet commanders in an early scene imparts the necessary information, namely that while they have succeeded in reclaiming a land corridor to Leningrad, the corridor is very narrow and precarious and subject to bombing and shelling by the Germans.
- Narrator: Occasionally Masha is heard on the soundtrack, providing exposition.
- Old-School Dogfight: In an early scene the railroad crew is strafed by a Luftwaffe plane, only for a Red Air Force plane to show up, triggering an old-school dogfight. The workers cheer when the Soviet plane wins. After the German pilot parachutes to earth, the workers rush over and kill him with shovels.
- To Absent Friends: Veselayov is killed when the Germans shell the train, on their first trip to Leningrad. When the rest of them have a little dinner after making it back, Veselayov's picture sits with them at the table.
- Vehicular Sabotage: Keshka, the nephew of one of the engineers, turns out to be pro-German. He sabotages the train to slow it down before it passes through the area vulnerable to German bombardment, then murders his uncle when the uncle catches him. He's motivated by some personal hatred for his uncle, who somehow ruined his father in the past.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: There was just such a train that did go on extremely hazardous trips across the narrow corridor to Leningrad, but all the characters are fictional.