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The Dawns Here Are Quiet (А зори здесь тихие, A zori zdes tikhie) is a 1972 film from the Soviet Union, directed by Stanislav Rostotsky.

1942, the Eastern Front of World War II, specifically the province of Karelia on the front with Finland. Sgt. Vaskov is the commander of a supply depot which apparently is well behind the front line but still subject to German air raids, which is why there's an anti-aircraft battery. When his officer visits and criticizes the un-military state of the anti-aircraft battalion, Vaskov complains that it's hard to keep the men away from vodka and village girls.

The officer responds by sending him a crew of women. Among the members of the all-female anti-aircraft squad are: Kiryanova, the leader; Rita, a war widow; Lisaveta, a young peasant woman from the country; Zhenya, transferred to the battalion after getting caught in an affair with a married officer; Galka, an orphan; and Sonya, a student. The tone is light comedy as the gruff sergeant puzzles with his pretty young soldiers—until Rita spots some German commandos in the forest, and things get deadly serious.

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Based on a novel. Re-made into a Russian TV miniseries in 2015.


Tropes:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Pauline is utterly unashamed when Vaskov upbraids her for cheating on her absent soldier husband. She tells him straight up that she's horny and there are men around.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Pauline and the other civilian women attach themselves to the men of the anti-aircraft unit, causing problems. Later the women of Kiryanova's squad giggle about Sgt. Vaskov. In one of Lizaveta's flashbacks, she comes into the room of her family's handsome boarder, in her nightclothes, making a very thinly veiled offer of sex, only for the boarder to gently turn her down.
    Pauline: A woman lives on caresses. That's a well-known fact.
  • Amazon Brigade: Pretty common for the Soviets in World War II, when the dire necessity of the German invasion often led to women in auxiliary combat roles like manning anti-aircraft batteries. The feminist message behind this depiction of women in war is somewhat undercut by the flashbacks, which shows all of them except for Galka motivated to fight by love of a man.
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  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Vaskov complains that he can't stop his men from drinking and having sex with local girls. He is rather shocked when he finds out that his CO solved this problem by sending him an Amazon Brigade.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Vaskov has finally cornered the last three Germans, a communique over the radio announces that there were no major engagements that day, but a few minor actions. Part II of the movie, the part that deals with Vaskov and the squad in a battle to the death in the forest, is titled "A Minor Local Fight".
  • The Cavalry: The reinforcements from the supply depot finally arriving, just as Vaskov crumples to the ground with exhaustion as three German prisoners march ahead of him.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: She doesn't get the throw off, but Zhenya, out of ammo, picks up a rock and has raised her hand to throw when she's gunned down.
  • Dies Wide Open: Both Zhenya and Rita die this way.
  • Doorstop Baby: Eventually it's revealed that Galya was one. Her surname "Chetvertak", given to her by the orphanage, means "new penny".
  • Dwindling Party: The five women in Vaskov's squad are picked off one by one. Lizaveta drowns as she attempts to cross the lake and get help. Sonya foolishly goes back for Vaskov's tobacco pouch and is knifed to death by a German. Galka freaks out during a firefight, tries to run away, and is shot In the Back by the Germans. Zhenya goes down in a firefight with several Germans. Finally, Rita, who is bleeding out from a stomach wound, kills herself before the Germans can find her.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: All of the women in the battalion are attractive, but they all still goggle when Zhenya enters the steam bath naked, her long red hair cascading. They call her a "mermaid", and one lady soldier can only gasp, "Putting a shape like that in an army uniform...."
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: All five women in Vaskov's patrol are killed.
  • Fanservice: Is there a scene where the women of the battalion have a steam bath? Yup.
  • Flashback: Many, of the lives of the women in the squad before the war and before they were sent to the supply depot.
  • Framing Device: Besides the flashbacks in color and the imagine spots in color, there are also occasional cuts to a group of people in color who appear to be in a later time frame, camping in the area near the church by the lake. The ending reveals that they are there to lay a memorial plaque to the five women who died on the patrol. Among them are an older Vaskov, and Rita's son Igor, a small child when his mother died, now a grown man who calls Vaskov "dad".
  • Glasses Pull: Misha, Sonya's boyfriend, does this when she tells him that the Germans have taken their hometown of Minsk. This happened only a few days into the war and was the first sign of how very badly things were going at the front.
  • Good-Looking Privates: A gender flip. Vaskov's squad is composed almost entirely of young, trim, good-looking women.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Zhenya makes a lot of noise and even sings a song to draw the Germans away from Vaskov and Rita. When she runs out of bullets she throws her gun at the Germans, and she's about to throw a rock when she's gunned down.
  • Imagine Spot: Towards the end of the film Vaskov starts having visions of his squad in civilian dress. After he sees Lizaveta's pack and realizes she drowned he has a vision of her in an angelic white dress, and he asks her what happened. ("I went too fast.")
  • Impairment Shot: Vaskov's vision starts to blur as he's marching the Germans away. Just as he's about to pass out, he turns around and sees the rest of the anti-aircraft battalion coming to the rescue.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Vaskov is shocked when he's presented with a squad of women. He can't deal with the bras and panties hanging from a laundry line, and he has to build an outhouse for them. Finally he stumbles into a civilian's hut and says "Maria, do you have any moonshine?"
  • It's Personal: For more than one member of the squadron. Rita's husband was killed on the third day of the war, so she has "a score to settle." Zhenya says she has a score to settle too, revealing that the Germans massacred her family (her father was a senior Communist Party member). Galka doesn't know for sure, but she thinks that she's probably an orphan, as her family is Jewish and they were in Minsk when the Germans came.
  • The Mistress: Zhenya was sent to the battalion after she was found to be having an affair with a married colonel. Zhenya reveals that she was deeply in love with him, and further that she has no one else in the world, her whole family having been massacred by the Germans in 1941.
  • Monochrome Past: Inverted! Although the present-day 1942 story is shot in black-and-white, all of the flashbacks, mostly dealing with the lives of the women before the war, are in color.
  • Monochrome to Color: Repeatedly throughout the film. The main story of the Amazon Brigade meeting their sergeant at the depot, getting to know each other, and eventually going off to fight German paratroopers, is in black and white. However, all the flashbacks and imagine spots, used to fill in the back stories of the main female characters, are all in color. This may symbolize the difference between the horror and suffering of the war and the better lives that the women in the film were having before the Germans invaded (and the better future that Russia would have after).
  • Nobody Here but Us Birds: Vaskov asks the girls if they know how to do bird calls, for signaling in the woods as they approach the Germans. They draw a blank. One soldier can make a donkey bray. After calmly telling them that there are no donkeys in the woods, Vaskov teaches them a duck call, which they later use.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Based on Rita's sighting of two Germans in the woods, Vaskov picks five soldiers from his battalion and goes off into the forest to hunt them. Galka and Vaskov have their Oh, Crap! moment at the end of Part I, when they spot the Germans across the lake and realize that there aren't just two Germans, there are sixteen.
    • Towards the end of the film Vaskov has one of these when he sees Lizaveta's pole sticking out of the lake, pack attached, and he realizes that she drowned and help is not coming.
  • Old Soldier: Vaskov is an old veteran. The women of the battalion are brave, and quite competent at manning the anti-aircraft guns, but Vaskov has to give them some last-minute tips when they go off as infantry to hunt down the paratroopers.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: None provided for the chatter of the German paratroopers.
  • Repeat Cut: In Rita's first flashback, there's a shot of her husband walking out the door to join the army, then a repeat cut to the exact same shot. Later we find out that he was killed on the third day of the war.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Zhenya, when she undresses down to her slip and jumps in the lake, in an effort to fool the German patrol into thinking that the squad is actually a bunch of civilian woodcutters.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Galka gets insecure, and says that she's ugly. The other girls give her a little makeover, and sure enough she looks lovely.
  • Sole Survivor: Vaskov is the only member of the patrol to make it back alive.
  • Title Drop: When Galka is standing watch and Vaskov is telling her to be quiet so she doesn't alert the Germans.
    Vaskov: The evening air is thick and humid, and dawn is quiet around here.
  • Two-Act Structure: Part I, which mostly deals with the whole crew at the supply depot, is called "In the Second Echelon." Part II, "A Minor Local Fight", features the squad engaging the German paratroopers in combat. The first act is mostly light comedy while the second act gets very dark and tragic.
  • Vertigo Effect:
    • Used rather unconventionally to suggest Love at First Sight, when Lizaveta the innocent peasant gets a first look at the handsome boarder who's come to stay with her family for a while.
    • Later this is used again for Vaskov's first flashback, when he remembers his wife, the one that eventually abandoned him, bringing dinner to the table.
  • White Void Room: Many of the flashbacks are presented this way, in stylized unreality within a White Void Room.
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