First up, I don't have a Russian dictionary/Cyrillic type pack installed on this computer, so can anyone translate this? The same goes for the text that opens the film. I have a feeling both could be of enormous help.
I have an overall impression of the film, but I want to get there after making note of a few things.
1. This looks to be fairly standard WWII-era tank; the profile looks pretty much like a T-34, so going off the other cues/clues from the film, let's just assume it's that.
2. This scene shows a soldier running down a trench. Also, all the soldiers seem to be wearing gas masks. While there was significant entrenchment in Stalingrad and the siege of Leningrad, these images really seem like throwbacks to WWI — especially since they're combined. On their own, they don't signify much, but together they seem like artistic choices deliberately meant to evoke a memory of Great War-style warfare.
3. That said, while the first two pictures ground us in WWI and the early years of WWII at the latest, this image establishes that this video can't pre-date 1945.
4. The presence of the balloon, though, makes me reluctant to date this much later. And this is a significant reach on my part, so feel free to call me on it. The thing looks like it's delivering a bomb payload, but why? Balloons are incredibly unreliable, and the bomb could wind up anywhere. No country is going to go to the balloon (pardon the totally inappropriate metaphor) well if they have access to supersonic jets; the value you get out of a balloon is so much less than a jet delivery of a bomb. So that makes me want to date this no earlier than 1945 but no later than 1948 — 1949 at the latest.
5. This actually looks like a souped-up B-29 or an end-of-war prototype for a super-fortress style bomber. Actually, what it really reminds me of is the Spruce Goose, only with four fewer engines. The important distinction here is that it's very reminiscent of American bomber designs. That's actually helpful, because it only helps further anchor this film in the immediate post-war period. If you'll recall, both Lend-Lease and our open allied partnership with the USSR from 1941-1945 saw American arms shipped to the Soviet Union en masse. There was no shortage of Douglas and Lockheed aircraft in the Soviet Air Force and Army support, so it would make sense for Russian artists to go with what they knew. What they knew was a lot of American designs. It would make sense to date this video in a period before the two Air Forces significantly diverged.
6. I literally have no idea what this guy is doing, but I've been watching a lot of Pushing Daisies lately, so every time I watched this video (which was about a round ten, trying to figure it out), I thought, "Meanwhile, The Piemaker...." So that's who this guy is: The Piemaker.
As I've said, I don't see any reason to date this later than 1949 at the very latest, and because of the balloon technology and absence of jets, I really want to date this film to 1945-6. Remember the old adage: generals always fight the last war. Consumed with the desire to correct the mistakes they made last time, they make mistakes by ignoring the new details of this time. Artists make the same mistakes. They always have difficulty envisioning the next conflict (the few who don't are the real geniuses), and because of that they tend to describe what they just saw. The presence of WWI-era gas masks and trenches and WWII-era tanks and propeller planes date this as the product of the Second World War or its immediate aftermath. The presence of an atomic mushroom cloud gives us a hard date of 1945 at the earliest.
I have no idea what this video is for, just yet. Anything I say would be wildly off-base and just what I want to hear. Right now, though, the only supposition I feel comfortable with is that this is either:
a. A recap of WWII, in instructional form, maybe meant for the civilian populace's education/entertainment.Of course, a lot of that speculation hinges on what this guy is here for:
b. An immediate post-war video meant to show the Soviet Union's continued mobilization for war and readiness for national defense.
Right now, I don't know. Something about him doesn't sit right with me at the moment.
Either way, that's my speech. What do you guys think?