Follow TV Tropes


Film / White Tiger

Go To

White Tiger is a 2012 Russian film set in World War II. During the Vistula-Oder offensive in early 1945, Soviet forces find themselves facing a mysterious white-painted Tiger tank, which would appear without warning and wreak havoc on their own armour before vanishing without a trace. In the wake of one such encounter, Ivan Naydenov, a tank driver, is pulled out of his knocked-out tank with 90% burns throughout his body, which mysteriously heals within days. Unable to remember anything and yet claiming to possess a link to the White Tiger and the tanks it has killed, Naydenov is given a tank, a crew, and the task of finding and destroying the White Tiger, which may or may not be a supernatural force.

White Tiger was directed by Karen Shakhnazarov.


Tropes appearing in this film:

  • Ambiguous Ending: The final scene is of Adolf Hitler giving a monologue about human nature to an unknown, shadowed figure in a chair beside a large fireplace. Guesses of who the figure is range from Martin Heidigger to Satan.
    • The last we see of Naydenov is him telling Fedotov that even though WWII is over, the White Tiger is not destroyed and could return any time. He then gets back into the T-34 he was working on. When Fedotov looks back, Naydenov and his tank seem to have vanished.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Naydenov remembers nothing from before his recovery in hospital, except how to make a tank go.
  • Antagonist Title: White Tiger is the titular tank's nickname which becomes the Soviet's boogeyman.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The other wiki put a theory which states White Tiger is personification of horror of war and Naydenov is personification of men traumatized by war and opposes war in all form as a result.
  • Arch-Enemy: The White Tiger to Naydenov.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: At the final duel, the crew manage to land a shot on the White Tiger's turret, seemingly damaging it and causing it to retreat. While rolling forward to finish it off, Naydenov accidentally drives the tank into a muddy ditch, clogging up the main gun with mud and causing it to burst when they try to fire, which allows the Tiger to escape. Whether it's purely a freak accident or something else is up to your interpretation.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Naydenov prays to the Tank God, Kriuk is a lecher who regularly brings women inside the tank, and Berdyev is a drunkard. They are the best tank crew Soviet forces can gather at short notice.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Naydenov. He says that tanks talk to him (and to everyone else, but only he can hear them) and calmly gives two officers a long, detailed description of the "tank god" up in the sky who has a golden T-34. Many characters say he's insane.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Fedotov, an intelligence major who is tasked with supervising the mission to destroy the White Tiger. He starts out being skeptical of Naydenov's ability to talk to dead tanks, as well as the nature of their target, only to witness the phenomena with his own eyes. After their disastrous first attempt to ambush the Tiger, he has to repeatedly try to convince his superiors of Naydenov's potential.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. A Panzer-IV is camouflaged inside a barn and waiting to ambush the Russians. Naydenov spots it and orders his gunner to fire a shot through the barn wall. A wooden wall does nothing to protect the Panzer from an armor piercing round.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Any time the White Tiger appears against "ordinary" tank crews, the results are always spectacular - and horrifying.
  • Daylight Horror: The weather is beautiful and sunny for the whole film.
  • The Dreaded: Soviets, and to some extent Germans, are very scared of White Tiger. With. Very. Good. Reason.
    Major Fedotov: What is it like, this White Tiger?
    Naydenov: It's dead, Comrade Major.
    Major Fedotov: What do you mean by dead? What are you saying?
    Naydenov: There are always men sitting in a tank. Fascists, yes, but people. Either they're cowards, or they're fumbling around, or they are too brave and take risks. But this one is dead. It's not timid, doesn't fumble, it does everything just right. From it, there's no salvation.
    • Even the Germans apparently fear the White Tiger; despite it only attacking the Russians with deadly effectiveness, they sense overwhelming dread when it is sighted and feel no relief even as it devastates their enemies.
  • The Film of the Book: Based on the novel Tankist, ili belyy tigr by Ilya Boyashov.
  • Just a Flesh Wound:
    • Naydenov takes this trope Up to Eleven. His injuries should have killed a normal human being but he recovers very quickly without any scars. Beside the amnesia he seems to not be traumatized by being burned alive. In another incident he takes a bullet to the leg and simply walks it off while the wound heals on its own.
    • Naydenov's powers seem to have transferred to his tank as well. The White Tiger shoots the T-34 point-blank in the rear and the tank only sustains minor track damage. Naydenov's tank has thicker armor than regular T-34s but it should not have been enough to protect it from such a shot.
  • Historical Domain Character: Wilhelm Keitel, Hans-Georg von Freideburg and Hans-Jürgen Stumpff are seen signing the German Instrument of Surrender towards the end of the film. Adolf Hitler, or something that looks like him, also gives a monologue at the ending.
  • Hope Spot: Late in the film, Naydenov and co. manage to corner The White Tiger after they manage to disable the White Tiger's turret. They move forward, only to get the plugging the gun with mud and damaging the end. Then the gun breaks when they try to fire at White Tiger.
  • Industrialized Evil: The White Tiger takes the form of sleek product of the 20th century arms industry, and this fits well with the theory that it represents the horrors of war, which only got worse with the emergence of total war between industrialized nations.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's strongly hinted but never confirmed that the White Tiger is a supernatural being.
    • Nadyenov's miraculous recovery and Healing Factor are theorized to be a medical phenomenon, but there is much to suggest a supernatural origin.
  • Moby Schtick: Naydenov becomes obsessed with destroying the white tank that burned him and killed his crew.
  • More Dakka: The White Tiger appears to fire its main gun at a supernatural rate, wiping out a company of Soviet tanks before any of them could respond.
  • Motive Rant: The last scene is a monologue by Hitler (if it is indeed him) about why he sought to exterminate the Jews and conquer the USSR.
  • No One Should Survive That: At the start of the film, Naydenov is taken to a field hospital with 90% burns, and is nearly triaged straight into the graveyard. He makes a full recovery, and is not even scarred. The doctors are mystified.
  • Never Found the Body: At one point the White Tiger is declared destroyed after it retreated into a swamp, where it surely must have sunk. Of course it hadn't. Like any good Supervillain, it fooled them into thinking they were dealing with something skilled but ordinary, instead of something with superpowers.
  • One Tank Army: The White Tiger alone blows tank after tank, whittling down the Soviet assault to pieces. This is based on a Real Life incident, the Battle of Teterevino of July 8, 1943. The single Tiger #1325 led by SS-Unterscharführer Franz Staudegger from the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler got caught under attack by a Soviet force of 53 tanks (34 T-34s and 19 light T-70s) while undergoing repairs in the village of Teterevino. As the only available tank on the spot, the Tiger crew and some SS-Panzergrenadiers fought the Soviets over the next hours, reportedly knocking down 17 tanks and routing the others before other SS units from the "Das Reich" division intervened. Undaunted, the Soviet 26th Tank Brigade counterattacked twice the same afternoon and gave up after two German responses by tank forces and an airstrike.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Ivan Ivanych Naydenov. Naydenov means "found." He was found in a tank, and taken to hospital.
    • The White Tiger as well. No one in neither Soviet nor Wehrmacht forces know who or what it is. Only it exists.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: By Richard Wagner, which is especially fitting considering he popularized the Flying Dutchman legend and Hitler was famously a fan of his work.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Major Fedotov believes and pays attention to what Naydenov says.
  • Red Shirt: Slepov, a T-34 commander assigned to help Naydenov on his first outing by scouting out the White Tiger and luring it into an ambush. His tank gets unceremoniously blown up before Naydenov's crew could respond.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: two officers discuss whether Naydenov's special powers are supernatural, or an evolutionary response to extreme conditions. Events towards the end of the film favour the first explanation.
  • Sapient Tank: Implied, given that the titular White Tiger is never shown with a crew operating it, and the tank itself somehow manages to destroy dozens of tanks with apparently superhuman coordination and skills.
  • Shown Their Work: A T-34/85 going over uneven terrain accidentally hits the ground with the cannon, plugging the gun with mud and damaging the end. They try to fire it anyway, which blows the end off their cannon and allows the White Tiger to escape. Due to the length of the 85mm gun barrel, this was a real-life problem for tankers.
  • Super Hero Origin: The entire movie could be framed as this. You have all the elements:
    • A terrible injury no ordinary person could survive, which leads to...
    • Superhuman powers, in this case related to "tank whispering", as well as a Wolverine-like Healing Factor.
    • Retrograde amnesia, which results in a new identity and a "code name" (Naydenov, "found").
    • A Supervillain nemesis in the form of the White Tiger, which easily destroys ordinary tanks and puts up a hell of a fight against our hero.
    • Neither manages to destroy the other, though the Supervillain is wounded, it successfully escapes to fight another day. After the war ends, our hero disappears to continue the fight against his nemesis.
  • Tank Goodness: The film offers a generous display of the Red Army's T-34 fleet, particularly the T-34/85 variant, as well as the ISU-152 assault gun and SU-100 tank destroyer. Lend-Lease vehicles such as the British Matilda and the American M3 Lee can be seen in the background as well. Finally, on the German side, we have a handful of Panzer IVs (mostly in the form of knocked-out hulks) and the titular White Tiger.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks:
    • Averted with the T-34/85s, played straight with the white Tiger. Originally it was planned to build a replica Tiger for the film, but when the prop was not finished in time, a redressed IS-2 was used instead. In fact, if you look at the movie poster for this page, it is a blatant IS-2 with no make-up or redress whatsoever.
    • A standard T-34/85 had a crew of five: commander, driver, gunner, loader and a radio operator/machine gunner. Naydenov's tank had thicker armor and a bigger engine so it had less space inside and the crew was reduced to three.
      This is realistically played: a T-34, due to very sloped, turtleback-like armor, had ridiculous interior space. A T-34/76 was even worse than a T-34/85 by having not only small interior of the hull, but also a smaller turret. Anything added inside cut even more from the available space. Just as expected, all 3 crewmen are small and thin.
      Getting rid of the radio operator/machine gunner would not have been a big problem since its mission had it operate behind the front lines. However, combining the position of commander with that of the driver does not make sense. The tank commander was not just the senior soldier, he was also the tank's eyes and ears. He would occupy the highest point in the tank (often standing exposed in the tank's cupola) so he had a good view of the battlefield and could direct the tank. In contrast, the driver occupied the lowest point in the tank and had a very limited field of view. If there really was no space for a fourth man then it made more sense to combine the commander and gunner positions.
    • It worked In-Universe only for Naydenov had a psychic ability to feel the tanks around even as he didn't see them.
  • Technopath: Naydenov says active tanks tell him how to dodge shells, and wrecked tanks tell him how they met their ends.
  • Those Two Guys: Kriuk the gunner and Berdyev the loader, two laid-back soldiers who just happen to be very good at their jobs.

  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Berdyev and Kriuk aren't seen after the climactic battle.
    • They are off partying. "It's the Victory Day after all."
  • Vodka Drunkenski: Elite loader Berdyev's special ability is that alcohol doesn't impair him from doing his job well.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: