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"Charge scene from the movie "Chapaev"" Topic

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Altius09 Jul 2008 8:38 a.m. PST


I came across a link to this the other day, but can't remember where I originally saw it. I really liked it and thought I'd share it with you guys. Not sure how historically accurate it is (it was Stalinist propaganda, after all), but I read that the director of the movie Chapaev tried to film the battle scenes at the actual locations whenever possible. In any case, I'm really pumped to start painting up my Kornilovtsys now. :)

wargamersmarket09 Jul 2008 9:35 a.m. PST

Interestingly they seem to be wearing white caps/black uniforms which I thought wer Markov units rather than Kornilosky(red caps??).

Not sure any unit ever looked like that or went into battle like that in reality!

Great to watch though -thanks.


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Altius09 Jul 2008 11:28 a.m. PST

I was aware of the red caps, but they do say that they are Kornilov troops. It wouldn't be the first time that a moviemaker got a detail wrong. Maybe the director thought the white caps would look better on B&W film. Does look great, though, doesn't it?

IGWARG1 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian09 Jul 2008 12:39 p.m. PST

It's a bull sheet Stalinist propaganda. If I remember correctly it's suppose to be attack of officer regiment commanded by generals designed to intimidate simple peasants and workers. I refuse to believe that any experienced commander would order such attack, especially after years of WW1 and Civil War. Thanks for the clip, last time I saw that was about 20 years ago.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine09 Jul 2008 1:09 p.m. PST

That was great, I've just finished painting my Drozdovski rifle regiment and the Kornilovs where next on my list. Can't wait to get my standard done now. That's a very cool standard.

Mark Plant09 Jul 2008 9:36 p.m. PST

They are meant to be representing Kornilovitsy, but are in white caps because it is more dramatic in B&W film.

They have a flag based on the WWI Kornilov flag of the skull and cross-bones. (NB: this does not seem to have been the RCW flag for the unit.)

Some of them are wearing arm badges, like the Kornilov ones, which other coloured units did not wear.

The coloured units early in the war probably did advance in line sometimes. However, it would have been the "chain" formation with men 3 metres apart and each line a few hundred meters afterwards.

Advancing like that into MGs or artillery would have been suicidal.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine09 Jul 2008 11:17 p.m. PST

They have a flag based on the WWI Kornilov flag of the skull and cross-bones. (NB: this does not seem to have been the RCW flag for the unit.)

Thanks Mark,
I've just looked at the flags on the guantlet site sadly the RCW flag isn't quite so exciting. Still glad you pointed it out before I'd made the mistake of putting the wrong flag on my unit.

Mark Plant10 Jul 2008 3:10 a.m. PST

Wrong perhaps as the regimental flag. I would be happy to have a version of the skull and crossbones flying in the front of the "Officer Company" of my Kornilovs in 1919.

(Except I have Markovs.)

AlanYork10 Jul 2008 12:22 p.m. PST

Aaaaargh! I was looking forward to a cinematic moment where the Soviet Heroes gunned down the Class Enemy!!!! I'll hopefully be doing a bit of that myself on Monday night.

I've never heard of this film. What happens next? Is there more on YouTube?

Thanks for posting, great stuff.

wargamersmarket10 Jul 2008 1:52 p.m. PST

Well I liked the skull flag so my Kornilovky Division has it!

sergeis11 Jul 2008 9:13 p.m. PST

Well, allow me to disagree here on several points.
In the movie the Whites are reffered to as "Kappelevtsy"- ie Kappel's officer regiment. "Psyche" attacks were not uncommon during Civil War- as I recall on one occasion Red sailors undressed during winter campaign and charged, wrapped in red sheets across the snow- it worked. Frontal shooting with HMG vs the advancing unit is actually by far not as effective as interlocking flank fire. As one can observe from the movie- Anka is firing wildly and largely hitting short of advancing Whites- you can see the bursts quite before the infantry line- they waver and recoil largely due to fear factor. However she quickly runs out of ammo ( as the old gunner told her) and is a sitting duck for charging Cossacks, only saved by Chapaev's countercharge. Movie is made in 1932- one of the first Soviet cinema masterpieces, and quite NOT a piece of Stalinist propaganda- See "Kuban Cossacks" for that.
I do have the movie- it is readily available on several Russian book estores, but is in PAL and with no subtitles.
There are several great fighting scenes in the movie- counterattack againg the Chech legion, fight with whites, some great conversations, armoured train scenes, etc.
It is based on the book by Furmanov ( who was Chapaev's chief of staff). I believe before the revolution Chapaev was a rotmister in Csarist army with several St george crosses for bravery.

sergeis11 Jul 2008 9:38 p.m. PST

Just to add here: In the movie Reds are portrayed in the begining as a rabble unable to fight. They flee the bridge they suppose to hold against Chech legion, dropping their weapons in the river. Only personal interference of Chapaev saves the day and beats back the Chechs- after he orders the troops to fish out all their dropped guns or else. During Whites charge Chapaevs cavalry squadron mutinees and he has to shoot a guy to make them fight.
One of the most sympathetic characters in the movie is a white cossack who changed sides after his brother ( orderly) was beaten to death by drunken White officers.
He is not allowed to fight first and is taking care of the field kitchen. During the fight he tells a helper kid a whole philosophical tale on why people kill other people in the civil war.

Mark Plant12 Jul 2008 5:19 a.m. PST

movie is made in 1932- one of the first Soviet cinema masterpieces, and quite NOT a piece of Stalinist propaganda

And based on a book written before then, of course.

You are right that they cannot be Kornilovtsy but Kappelevtsy because they are on the Eastern front. But the flag and the arm badges are taken from the Kornilov regiment, not the Kappel one(s).

Frontal shooting with HMG vs the advancing unit is actually by far not as effective as interlocking flank fire.

Frontal fire against a unit packed like that is quite effective enough. A couple of 76mm shells landing in the middle wouldn't be as effecitive as 122mm ones either, but would soon spell the end of the unit.

Yes, attacks based on moral superiority made a reappearance in the Russian Civil War. The White cavalry's charge with sabre being famously effective -- even facing MGs and cannon. But there are limits.

Clearly it is done for dramatic effect. Just as every cavalry charge on screen involves a wild mob hurtling at the gallop, in defiance of actual warfare.

sergeis12 Jul 2008 2:08 p.m. PST

I am sure some uniform details were taken in the movie for a greater effect. At least it is historically accurate- unlike most of modern Hollywood crap. During the scene of the "psycho" attack- with fifes and drums playing/cool customers Whites puffing on their cigars- one of the scruffy Reds is talking to other:
- Look at them coming!
- Yep, intelligencia!
Followed by Reds screaming : " Why arent they shooting at us?" and taking to their heels.
Actually that type of bayonet charge was quite popular in Russian army ( not in such packed formations) since the time of Alexander Suvorov said " Bullet is bumb, bayonet is a lad!" I whould trace a tactical lineage all the way back to Swedish Ga-Pa ( fall in) tactic, when a unit advanced at brisk pace, delivered a volley at close range and immediately charged. Russians learned their lessons well in 7YW. A very famous episode of WWI come to mind, when the only female in history of Russia recieved officer's grade St George for bravery. A regimental nurse personally headed the regimental bayonet charge after all officers were dead or wounded. She herself recieved 11 bayonet thrusts in the melee and was awarded the cross postumously.
I'd recommend Furmanov's book "Chapaev", also Isaak Babel's "Konarmia" It is a pretty sobering account of a ordinary trooper' life in 1st mounted army- pride of Reds.
Book was published in USSR, despite the rage and protest or Semyon Budennyi.

sergeis12 Jul 2008 2:10 p.m. PST

Oops, my mistake- not 7YW, rather Great Nothern war.

Mark Plant12 Jul 2008 4:27 p.m. PST

Advancing without firing until close was quite common in the early Russian Civil War, especially by the Whites. Shortages of ammunition made it a necessity. The morale effect may have been a bonus.

Babel's "Konarmia" is generally entitled "Red Cavalry" Stories in the English versions. It is a great read, but care should be taken that although it includes real people (Budenny, Voroshilov) and is based on the 1920 campaign that it is fiction. Babel paid for his impertinence with his life.

Alexander Kutepov13 Dec 2019 11:45 p.m. PST

The flag looks like it comes from Annenkov's black hussar unit and the uniforms have a passing resemblance.

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