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  • Help needed - Soviet Air Women

    Hi all,

    Hoping that someone might be able to give me some advice or point me in the right direction. I am a screenwriter based in the UK (one film credit to my name) and currently working on a new project. At the moment, my agent and I are researching the possibility of writing a screenplay about Soviet combat pilots in World War II.

    For dramatic purposes, we would like to focus on one woman as the main protagonist but are hoping to cover as much of the women's experience in war as we can. To that end, I was wondering if anyone could advise if there was a woman pilot, who trained with Raskova, was a "night witch", transferred to fighter units and was shot down and taken as POW, as this would allow us to explore all the aspects of the women's war, without straying too far into fiction.

    For example Anna Egorova was a fighter, and was shot down but as far as I know never met Raskova or Litvak, or flew with any of her regiments. Nina Karasova was with the bomber regiment, and was captured but never flew (she was a navigator)

    I have read Bruce Myles Night Wtiches, Egorova's memoirs, and Reina Penningtons Soviet Women in Air Combat, and have just ordered Cottams Women in Air War and Noggles A Dance With Death, which may be some help, but was wondering if anyone here could suggest a good character to build the story around so that we can stay as true to historical facts as possible.

    Many thanks and kind regards

  • #2
    Your best best is probably Lilia Litvak, who died a heroic death, according to legend. AFAIK, no female VVS aircrew were captured, or made it as far as a Stalag. I suspect I know the reason. There is no female equivalent of Steve McQueen at Stalag Luft III.

    I am old, bitter and cynical, especially where it comes to Hollywood. As I see it, you can tell the story of a brave woman who faced her fears and her adversity at the same time, a fact-based story without elaboration. You can invent a character, a la Enema at the Grate, based loosely (bowels again) on a historical personage, with much fantasy included. Or you can go pure Hollywood, and have a heroine that is actually a displaced American, a beautiful blonde with big tits who gets rescued by GI Joe.

    I don't know what instructions you are constrained by, or who you consider your target audience. My preference, in your shoes, I would educate rather than titillate. People in our world do not understand enough about the Soviet experience, and an opportunity to spread that experience should not be wasted.

    Regards, and an offer of help
    Scott Fraser
    Last edited by Scott Fraser; 03 Nov 10, 07:41.
    Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

    A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
      Your best best is probably Lilia Litvak, who died a heroic death, according to legend. AFAIK, no female VVS aircrew were captured, or made it as far as a Stalag. I suspect I know the reason. There is no female equivalent of Steve McQueen at Stalag Luft III.

      I am old, bitter and cynical, especially where it comes to Hollywood. As I see it, you can tell the story of a brave woman who faced her fears and her adversity at the same time, a fact-based story without elaboration. You can invent a character, a la Enema at the Grate, based loosely (bowels again) on a historical personage, with much fantasy included. Or you can go pure Hollywood, and have a heroine that is actually a displaced American, a beautiful blonde with big tits who gets rescued by GI Joe.

      I don't know what instructions you are constrained by, or who you consider your target audience. My preference, in your shoes, I would educate rather than titillate. People in our world do not understand enough about the Soviet experience, and an opportunity to spread that experience should not be wasted.

      Regards, and an offer of help
      Scott Fraser
      Except in most cases completely fact based movies with no embellishments would be a bomb (pun somewhat intended) I can imagine the production costs of such a film would require a number of projected ticket sales and I don't know how open a Western production company would be to shelling out that cash without certain elements that attract movie goers, especially in a not as well known part of the war. This is just pure conjecture though. As much as you and I would love for the general public to be educated on something like this, the general public wants to be entertained, and in order for them to be entertained they seem to require certain elements and embellishments.

      Though a film like this could open the door for people that want to be educated on the matter to have motivation to research the reality, or maybe a documentary special feature with the DVD release.
      Кто там?
      Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
      Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

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      • #4
        Thanks both for the replies. It is currently our intention to have Lily as a supporting character – simply for the reason that she did not survive until the end of the war and our intention was to show the whole arc of the conflict, from lives before to surviving to lives after – hence our desire to have someone make it through to the end. Based on all the research I have done so far, Egorova (or Yegorova depending on who is translating from Russian) is my favourite story in terms of fitting neatly into a dramatic arc but to use her story would mean leaving out Raskova and her three regiments and make it the story of one incredible and heroic women rather than many incredible and heroic women. I take the point about Hollywood history lessons, and that would be a great discussion in itself. There are outright lies and there are lies that tell the truth. (for example the film Michael Collins has a powerful scene where a British Armoured car opens fire on a crowd at a football match – except there was no armoured car – it was a squad of solders – reports vary as to whether they would have used the armoured car if it had fit through the gates. Is it accurate? No. Is it a lie? Well that’s more difficult – the kernel of the truth is there, but presented in a more dramatic ways.) Even if you decided you were going to stick to the truth, you will not please everyone. There are some who claim – with a reasonable amount of supporting evidence that Litvak was not in fact killed, but survived the war and moved t Switzerland where she eventually married and raised a family. William Goldman wrote often about the problem he had writing A Bridge Too Far where he attributed the line “I’m sorry we cannot accept your surrender as we have no facilities to take prisoners” to the wrong person. The line was accurate, and he wanted to include it, but the confines of the work made it difficult to attribute it to the correct person. Certainly my intent (and hopefully the intent of anyone who might become involved in the project is not to do a disservice to the women who fought bravely) but as Stryker said, there would always be a compromise between education and entertainment. Personally my own belief is that a movie should entertain, enlighten, treat the memories of people with as much respect as they deserve and encourage people to do their own research and educate themselves. I’ll keep researching.
        All the best

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ellian View Post
          Hi all,

          For example Anna Egorova was a fighter, and was shot down but as far as I know never met Raskova or Litvak, or flew with any of her regiments. Nina Karasova was with the bomber regiment, and was captured but never flew (she was a navigator)

          I have read Bruce Myles Night Wtiches, Egorova's memoirs, and Reina Penningtons Soviet Women in Air Combat, and have just ordered Cottams Women in Air War and Noggles A Dance With Death, which may be some help, but was wondering if anyone here could suggest a good character to build the story around so that we can stay as true to historical facts as possible.

          Many thanks and kind regards
          There were 3 women aircraft regiments formed with Marina Raskova's help
          (Aircraft group No. 122)
          586th Fighter Regiment (Yak-1)
          587th Diving Bomber Regiment (Pe-2)
          588th Night Bomber Regiment (U-2 (Po-2))
          Since March 1942 the 586th AR guarded Saratov been a part of antiaircraft forces of the town. (144th Fighter Aircraft Division PVO)

          Later two fighter and diving bomber regiments were reinforced with men-pilots. Only the night bombing regiment was women through all the war (later it became the 46th Guards Night Bomber Aircraft Regiment)

          I'd say it's hard enough to fulfill all your wills.
          To my mind the best choice would be Anna Timofeeva-Yegorova.
          http://www.ozon.ru/context/detail/id...?partner=amvas

          She was not a fighter pilot, but ground attack plane, namely - IL-2.
          That was more than rare case...
          Her memoirs (just which you have, I suppose) are quite enough for making a good movie.

          I can't remember other cases when women-pilots were taken as POWs.
          I think the reasons were
          a) First months they flew without parachutes
          b) Po-2 planes were caught by fire very quickly and leaving burning plane was a real problem
          c) Germans were too angry with them and killing of women-pilots instead of capturing can't be called too impossible case...


          Regards
          Alex
          If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi Amvas,

            Thank you for your reply - yes I have Egorova's memoirs - you spell it Yegorova although it is Egorova on the spine of the book which I assume is just differences of opinion on translation


            I also do agree that she would be a fine subject for a film. Hopefully I can get someone with several million dollars at their disposal to agree.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Ellian View Post
              Hi Amvas,

              Thank you for your reply - yes I have Egorova's memoirs - you spell it Yegorova although it is Egorova on the spine of the book which I assume is just differences of opinion on translation
              Yegorova is more correct, because in Russian language letter "e" (if it's not "э") sounds as "je" (or "ye"). If "e" letter goes after some consonant letter, that consonant got soft form and "e" itself sounds like English "e". In the case, when this is impossible, Russian "e" sounds as "je"("ye").
              If you directly transliterate some word from Russian having transliteration table where every letter has its equivalents in Latin alphabet you can all the time transliterate "e" as "e". But if you'd like to be more exact you can vary this taking into account what I said

              I also do agree that she would be a fine subject for a film. Hopefully I can get someone with several million dollars at their disposal to agree.
              Ohh... Good luck...
              Hope you are able to do this.
              However I'm quite skeptic about possibility to make really truthful movie on this subject. first of all because producers prefer to use well-known stereotypes This is typical not only for the western cinema, but for Russian too. For example the latest movie of Nikita Mikhalkov "Burnt by the sun-2" is so awful, that even unexperienced watchers can see much bugs in it..
              Ok, no offtop more on this painful item

              Regards
              Alex
              If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

              Comment

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