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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 21:52 GMT
Digital leap for Russian war film
By Patrick Jackson
BBC News Online

Attack on unidentified ship in Arctic convoy
The film commemorates the sacrifice of Allied seamen
Work has ended on Russia's first war film to make full use of digital special effects, Moscow media report.

Convoy PQ17 tells the true story of an Arctic convoy devastated by German bombers in the summer of 1942.

Video clips posted on newsru.com website show Allied AA gunners in unequal combat with the planes.

The TV film took its creator, Russia's Semyon Levin Studio, about a year to make, using archive material to recreate the ships, planes and subs.

"Nothing remains of the armaments of that time," Mr Levin told newsru. "War and time left nothing. We had to recreate them from scratch."

Veterans who served on the Arctic convoys were interviewed by the makers to help explain how the ships operated while attention was paid to every detail, from the camouflage paint used to the fonts for the markings.

Rich tradition

PQ17 was a joint Allied convoy which aimed to deliver weapons and other supplies to the Eastern Front under cover from UK and US warships.

However, its escort was withdrawn to counter a reported threat from the German battleship Tirpitz and Nazi bombers and submarines were left to pursue the scattered ships of the convoy between Iceland and Russia's Arctic ports.

The UK's Royal Navy records that 153 seamen died and more than 20 ships were lost, representing almost 100,000 tons of cargo: more than 400 tanks, 210 aircraft and 3,300 other vehicles.

Russia has a rich history of war cinema stretching back before the Second World War to such works as Chapayev (1934). Morale-boosting feature films like Two Soldiers (1943) were a vital part of the Soviet war effort during the actual conflict.

But many of the greatest war films such as Ballad of A Soldier (1960) have been slightly let down by lack of authentic period detail in the German tanks and planes featured.

Whether Convoy PQ17 possesses the human depth of its predecessors has still to be seen but its action scenes seem set to rival Hollywood's Pearl Harbour.

The UK's Arctic graveyard
12 Oct 03  |  From Our Own Correspondent
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31 Aug 01  |  UK News
Sub film's tricky Russian outing
13 Oct 02  |  Entertainment

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