About a heroic deed of thirteen Soviet frontier guards who are killed in a battle with a numerous band of basmatches. The scene is laid in the 20s. Source : www.mosfilm.ru
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The only Red Western from the 1930s, the darkest period of Stalin’s years of terror, with a fascinating influence of silent cinema from the 1920s, and the earliest sound experiments. Made by Mikhael Romm, who later became a (propaganda) master of socialist realism.
Red Army commander Ivan Zhuravlev accompanies ten honourably discharged soldiers on their way to the city. In the middle of the Karakum Desert they stumble upon a hidden well located near an ancient tomb. They also find brand-new weapons belonging to Shirmat Khan and his anti-Bolshevik bandits, the so-called basmachi. Zhuravlev gives orders to wait for Shirmat Khan and fight him until regular Red Army troops arrive.
The Thirteen is one of the most remarkable Civil War thrillers in Soviet cinema. Dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Red Army, its story was inspired by John Ford’s The Lost Patrol (1934). The film’s well-paced adventure plot and psychological plausibility meet the highest international standards.
The heroism in Romm’s film is of an unspectacular kind - no wounds are shown, no cries are heard. This understated pathos is unusual for Soviet cinema in the 1930s and has secured the film's freshness and enduring appeal.