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The Battle of Russia

The Battle of Russia(1943)

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This film was subtitled "Project 6004; Information film #5." According to government documents at NARS, this film's working titles were Know Your Ally: Russia and War in the East, which was also used as a working title for The Battle of China. Work began on the scenario on April 1, 1942, and an answer print was submitted for approval on July 9, 1943. Of the film's 7,363 ft., 4,542 ft. came from Russian sources, about 500 ft. from American newsreels and Hollywood studios, 496 ft. from seized enemy newsreels or documentary films, and 77 ft. from Allied documentaries. Footage from some Russian films was used, including Alexander Nevsky, Moscow Strikes Back, Soviet Frontiers on the Danube, Diary of a Nazi, Russians at War, Girl from Leningrad and One Day in Soviet Russia. Footage from RKO's The Navy Comes Through was also used. According to Capra's autobiography, he was nearly placed under military arrest for going to the Soviet Embassy to arrange for footage, an episode that ended in a reprimand. Music used in the film was drawn from classic Russian works, such as "The Rite of Spring" and the "Firebird Suite" by Igor Stravinsky, Dimitri Shostakovitch's Seventh Symphony, Peter Tchaikovsky's Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Isle of the Dead," and music from the film Alexander Nevsky by Sergei Prokofiev.
       Inserts, optical printing, fades and dissolves were made at Twentieth Century-Fox, while the music recording was done at Paramount. According to Daily Variety, Dimitri Tiomkin conducted the seventy-five piece orchestra that recorded the music.
       There were three versions of the film in lengths of six, nine and ten reels. Modern sources state that the film was released in two parts, the first half covering events through 1941, the second tracing the war since then on the eastern front. According to New York Times, a passage in the original film about Russia's pre-war advances into Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bessarabia and Poland was deleted from the print showing in New York. It May be that the nine-reel version was exhibited publicly.
       The film was well received critically and was given an award by National Board of Review in 1943, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary that year. According to the Washington Post, the State of Pennsylvania censors cut out all newsreel excerpts showing Nazi atrocities in Russia.
       For a French version, Charles Boyer recited Andre David's translation of the narration. According to modern sources, the picture was translated by the Soviet Union into a score of dialects and shown throughout the USSR, with a special prologue by Joseph Stalin, and was extremely popular. W. Averell Harriman, American ambassador at the time, reported that Stalin personally told the visiting Capra that he was pleased with the film.