9th Company

9th Company

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of 9th Company

That 9th Company garnered itself a nomination for the 2007 Best Foreign Film is an indication of the quality this solid war genre film has to offer. It’s fitting then that director Fyodor Bondarchuk’s depiction of the 1980’s Soviet Union conflict in Afghanistan is supported by a stout two disc DVD release.

Visually, the picture quality stands up well and the images Bondarchuk has created are still strong on the transfer. Particularly effective are the respectively warmer tones of the picture when the new recruits sign up and undergo training, contrasting with the harsh, grittier scenes when the reach Afghanistan. Similarly, the surround sound punches through bombastically when it has more to work with.

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Disc two holds the features. Russian and English trailers. And while trailers are trailers are trailers to most, interestingly the various Russian edits appear to treat the audience with more intelligence. The Making Of is a fairly comprehensive affair, with multiple contributions from the ensemble cast and crew, including Aleksei Chadov (who plays the sensitive Vorobey), adding to his combat CV after Aleksei Balabanov’s War in 2002. Bondarchuk, who played the sensitive bull of a leader Khokhol in the film, seems to have not chomped his acting chops too far, taking a similar approach to his directing. Throughout everyone is very respectful of the Motherland, the solders’ sacrifices and the fact that Russian cinema has never really portrayed these events from its country’s history before.

The shorter Premiere piece features interviews similarly focusing on these elements, again emphasising how important the film is as a document of Russian history.

But it’s the 20 Years Later featurette that resonates most soundly. Featuring a number of concise interviews with former soldiers who were in the real 9th Company and saw action, their anecdotes actually help to make some of the film’s seemingly stereotypical episodes ring more true. Plainly stating their cases and experiences, they add more real weight here than anyone else and it is their contribution that perhaps most justifies the overtures of historical import. Crucially, it is their even-handed and non-Soviet promoting perspective of their incursions into Afghanistan that reverberate strongly with contemporary conflicts around the world today. Imagine if it had won that Oscar…

Reviewed on: 04 Jun 2007
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9th Company packshot
Raw Russian recruits join an elite brigade in the mountains of Afghanistan.
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Product Code: CTD51176AR0

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digitial 5.1, Russian DTS, English subtitles

Extras: Making the Movie, 20 years Later, The Premiere, trailers

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