T-34: An Education in Comparative Propaganda
An Education in Comparative Propaganda
Publication date: 2021-12-17
The T-34, to later become the T-34-85, was probably the most influential vehicle of armored warfare during WWII. The only people who know about it are those who study military history, or play video games like "World of Tanks".
In 2018 a movie, using both major variants of this tank, was released. For students of military history, or players of relevant video games, the movie is very good in presenting a moderately "film" realistic view of tank warfare between this tank at its German counterparts.
Players of "World of Tanks" will appreciate the tank orientation, with the turret and gun pointing over the side as the heroes escape the German prison camp, and particularly the gun/turret pointing over the rear as it charges out of the camp gates. Always align your strongest armor towards the threat, is the principle being shown.
All of that aside, its a good film. Nothing special, a pleasing standard yarn, but with a humor, Russian in style I presume, which is a pleasing change from what "the west" receives from USA movie production houses. T-34 is not a Russian "Batman". Actually, it feels like what the USA produced before they hit the "Rambo" phase.
The usual themes of WWII are there, with the evil Germans, and the concentration camps. But, it is not overplayed. A little brutality is used for character development and story line purposes. The social themes are conservative. There is no "naked flesh", the female lead is tentative but strong, and the "tankers" (the tank crew) show a "brothers in arms" bravado, but also weaknesses.
It is a film. It is scripted. There are plot points to be made. Its not "Avante Garde" or whatever. It is a straight up simple narrative plot.
The natural question is "why the hell are you talking about this?" Yep. The reason is that I look at this film as a combination of Rambo and M*A*S*H. Its Russian propaganda in the same way that those were USA propaganda. I think T-34 is a little lighter on the propaganda front than Rambo, and less subtle than M*A*S*H, but both of those USA propaganda efforts flew under my radar when I was so young. It was my enjoyment of the simple, and well produced, film T-34 which lead to my reflection.
So, watch T-34, after dinner, as an "easy" film for a night-at-home comfort occasion. And while you're watching it and feeling that you are being propagandized by Russia, think about Rambo and Top Gun and Black Hawk Down and all the other USA war propaganda films. I think there is much to be gleaned in comparison on top of enjoying the "good yarn" that T-34 is.
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